Location lighting – what’s in the bag?

Richard Charpentier Arizona Photographer, Gear Review, Off Road Adventures, Photographing Arizona, Photography, Portrait Work, RLC Design 3 Comments

Portable lighting can really add to a location shoot. In the case of the recent trip to White Pocket portable strobes helped make the difference between “snap shots” and dramatic images.  If you’ve been following recently, you know what I mean.  Take a look below at the location “snap shot” as we prepared to get rolling with our shoot.

Now there’s nothing wrong with the snapshot style.  I shot it in aperture priority mode, the camera metered on the overall lighting, and we created an image of Joni & Jodi sitting on the rocks.  We’ve got our hot spots and our shadows.  Okay.

Once we got going for the shoot though we broke out some lighting gear.  Specifically an Alien B800, a Lastolite 24×36″ softbox, and a Lastolite grip to hold the Bee on.  That’s all that was used while we were in White Pocket.  Anything more would have required more assistants given the 50 – 70 mph wind gusts while we were on location.

A single Alien Bee with a 24x36 Softbox at 3/4 power.

A reader recently asked me what we’re using for shoots now, so I’ll give you the whole list.  It’s not too big, but it is full of gear that works well for me.

  • Alien B800 (x2):  I now have 2 Alien Bee’s from Paul Buff.  Fantastic lights, super reasonable prices, great service & support.  I purchased the second Bee December of 2011 as a backup, and as another powerful light source for doing a little more dramatic lighting beyond “one light.”
  • Radio Poppers JrX Studio Set:  For my wireless control I’m still a Radio Popper guy.  I’ve been using them a few years now and they don’t disappoint!  I’ve got 4 receivers, 2 transmitters.  That’s all I need.
  • Canon 580EXII:  The 580 comes out regularly.  It’s super portable, but not super powerful.  It will not overpower the sun, which is why I have the 2 bees.
  • Canon 430EXIIs”  Got two of these and I always look at them with regret.  I have nothing against Canon Speedlites, but I screwed up getting them.  See, the 580EXII has an external power pack, the 430’s do not.
  • Lastolite Softboxes:  Ah, I’ve got several of these.  24×24, 14×14, 24×36, 36×36.  Absolutely love them.  Portable, easy to assemble, etc, etc.  Nothing but good things to say about Lastolite’s products.
  • Paul Buff Octabank:  I love this Octa!  Fantastic in studio, manageable on location.
  • Stands and such: C-Stands (2), Impact stands (4), Justin Clamps, and random stuff.

So, there you go, that’s what I’ve got for lighting gear at the moment.  Below you can see a photo from today as I was setting up for a composite session with a client.



The tiny studio. It works for individual portraits, so no complaints!

Oh, and just for fun today I put myself in front of the screen to test lights before the client arrived.  3 lights.  2 Alien Bees (one grid spot, 1 24×36 softbox) and the 580EXII with a grid spot.

Self portrait in my "micro studio" before a high school senior composite session. Hey, you gotta check the lights.


Comments 3

  1. Post


    Yup the Vagabond Mini Lithium. It totally rocks! One of my best investments last year was that power pack!!!

    Tombo……oh Tombo….. I have an idea for a composite and wanted some light back there. I will be burning some of the brightness down. But (ha) an Alien Bee 800 with the 24×36 softbox.

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