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Thread: Gear for mobile portrait studio

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    Subscriber Member mwalker's Avatar
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    Gear for mobile portrait studio

    Please help me identify what equipment I need for a mobile, minimal, portrait setup from background, lighting, remote triggering devices ect....I will be using a M8, M7, and a Sony a900. Thanks!!
    Mike

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    A north facing window is the minimum.
    -bob

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    Subscriber Member mwalker's Avatar
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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    A north facing window is the minimum.
    -bob

    Can I carry it in a suit case?
    Mike

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    I use an elinchrom Ranger Speed AS, skyports, a couple of heads, a beauty dish, a grided reflector, four stands, a folding pole, a large folding reflector, and a grey muslin.
    But, a good North window works pretty well, often alone or with just a reflector.
    -bob

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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    Mike,
    Some of your needs may depend on the type of portraits you are trying to capture. Like Bob, I have hauled a lot of stuff (pack, 2-3 heads, PocketWizards, stands, reflectors, 2 different softboxes, collapsible background, full background stand and muslins, and even a small posing bench), sometimes putting most of it to use, other times, just using that north window light to get simple soft shot with a Noctilux on the M8.

    If you are doing something like corporate portraits, you may be able to take advantage of the location, and just bring a couple small flash units, umbrellas, and stands. If you are doing family or kid shots, again, the location may provide a nice backdrop, and you may only need a reflector or something with good light.

    If you are planning on doing more formal studio type portraits, then you might need to bring more stuff.

    Right now, I have two different "kits" that I work with. One is a tiny "grab 'n go" type thing consisting of a couple 580EX flashes, lightweight stands, Lightsphers for the flashes, one reflector and a collapsible background for just in case headshots if things look too distracting. The other "kit" is all the stuff mentioned above. Presently, it has DynaLites, but those will be changed out with Profotos soon.

    The beauty of shooting with the Leicas is that you can take best advantage of soft, natural lighting to capture some very nice portraits. Add a small reflector to fill a bit and you are done....provided you have sufficient good light and like that style of shooting. I usually bring both my Canon and my M8 bag, and make the call once I know the setting. Sometimes one will get what I want better than the other. Just some added thoughts...

    LJ

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    Subscriber Member mwalker's Avatar
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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    Thanks Bob, LJ
    Mike

    website under construction

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    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    Quote Originally Posted by mwalker View Post
    Can I carry it in a suit case?


    H

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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    Helen,
    Actually......there is a frame built with ScrimJims and fluorescent lights that one could pack down into a suitcase, and it does create a giant window light......but I did appreciate both Bob and Mike's repartee on that one ;-)

    Heck, some of the softboxes folks use are big enough to serve as that window with soft north light....no matter where or what time of the day or night. However, I do like seeing a clear blue sky thought one, instead of wires and bulbs and fabric ;-)

    LJ

  9. #9
    Ranger 9
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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    Quote Originally Posted by mwalker View Post
    Please help me identify what equipment I need for a mobile, minimal, portrait setup from background, lighting, remote triggering devices ect....I will be using a M8, M7, and a Sony a900. Thanks!!
    I faced a similar situation a few months ago when I had to do a series of matching corporate headshots in three different locations, using a kit small enough to carry on a Learjet 25 (which has very limited luggage space in the cabin.) What I wound up with:

    -- One of those Westcott collapsible backgrounds that springs open and then twists up into a small round package. (Warning: practice stowing it a few times before you try to use it for real! There's a knack to getting it to fold.) I needed this because I couldn't count on uniform, consistent backgrounds in all the locations.

    -- Three battery-powered electronic flash units (I used Nikon SB 800 and 600 because that's the kind of camera I have. You can use anything you like.) One of them should have some kind of diffuser, although in a pinch you can just stick a white foam coffee cup over it. You'll also need two slave triggers to fire the off-camera flashes; if you'll be shooting at fairly close distances, you can use inexpensive optical triggers such as Weins rather than radio slaves. The Weins are nice because they're very compact, don't need batteries, and are pretty much unbreakable.

    -- A lightweight collapsible lightstand, with an adapter to hold one of the flash units and an umbrella.

    -- A small white umbrella to go in the adapter.

    -- A big roll of gaffer tape. Optional: a little box (I use a tin that a gift card came in) with bits of colored gels, rubber bands, and some folded-up aluminum foil.

    The flash units and other gizmos will fit in a small camera bag; you can carry the stand, umbrella, and folded-up background in a bundle.

    How you use this to make portraits: Deploy your background and stand it up against a wall. If it won't stay standing, use some of your gaffer tape.

    Put one flash on your camera, pointed straight up, with the diffuser over it. This is your fill light and also triggers the other lights. Doing it this way means you don't need any cords.

    Put one flash, with a slave unit, on your lightstand/adapter/umbrella. This becomes your main light.

    Put the third flash, with slave, wherever you need it, using a combination of gaffer tape, found objects, and trickery. You might want to bounce it off a ceiling to fill in the background, or tape it to the top of a door behind your subject to create a film-noir rimlight, or whatever. For extra style, use the contents of your little tin box to add a color gel, shape some aluminum foil into a snoot or a gobo, or whatever you want. The rubber bands plus more gaffer tape will form whatever "adapter" you need to attach your accessories to the third flash.

    Okay, it's not as minimalist and classical as a north-lit window and a background wall of gently weathered brick. But both those things can be hard to find in office buildings, especially if your photos need to match across locations. The above kit (plus whatever camera stuff you need, of course) was about the smallest way I could think of to solve the problems of consistency, versatility, and portability. Maybe you can think of something smaller or cooler; this is just intended as a starting point for your own inspirations.

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    Subscriber Member mwalker's Avatar
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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    Thanks thats exactly what I needed to know. I do not do portraits. But it happened last year and I ended up spending a lot of time on the computer when I got back.
    Mike

    website under construction

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    Deceased, but remembered fondly here... johnastovall's Avatar
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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    The sun, a camera and white paper that's all Avedon need for 'The American West."

    Avedon at work..

    "The market wants a Leica to be a Leica: the inheritor of tradition, the subject of lore, and indisputably a mark of status to own."
    Mike Johnston


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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    Quote Originally Posted by johnastovall View Post
    The sun, a camera and white paper that's all Avedon need for 'The American West."

    Avedon at work..
    Pretty close to a north window and a reflector.
    -bob

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    Subscriber Member mwalker's Avatar
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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    A north window, reflector, a M7 with Fuji Neopan 400 and a 75 Lux is it.....and maybe a collapsable background.
    Mike

    website under construction

  14. #14
    Oxide Blu
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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post

    A north facing window is the minimum.

    If you are below the equator can you use a south facing window with the same results?

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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    Of course, south of the equator, north light comes from the south, but not until you are well south, otherwise it is harsh equatorial light.
    Below the equator is something entirely different.
    -bob

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    Re: Gear for mobile portrait studio

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    Mike,


    Right now, I have two different "kits" that I work with. One is a tiny "grab 'n go" type thing consisting of a couple 580EX flashes, lightweight stands, Lightsphers for the flashes, one reflector and a collapsible background for just in case headshots if things look too distracting.
    LJ
    Just added a Lastolite EZYBox for flash...large softbox dedicated to off camera small flash...for those times when the north window is paper'd over.

    Bob

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