Friday, June 6, 2008


To serve as a reference, my lighting equipment is as follows:
(I've made them links to B&H so that you can see photos, read a more detailed description, or purchase the exact units. I get no kickback from this, it's purely for convenience)

Two Vivitar 285hv battery powered flashes
These are my main light sources. They are quite powerful and durable. They use 4x AA batteries. By default, they can zoom from 3 different settings, from wide to telephoto to throw the light wider or farther (useful for when you want to light a specific area) and can power down from 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, and 1/32 power with a dial. I have hacked one of mine to now go from 1/1 - 1/1024 in one stop increments. I used this page to figure out how to hack the light. It was quite easy. A few dollars in supplies and about one evening took care of it. I only hacked one, as I most of the time need my main light to be quite strong, so I use the unhacked for the main, and the hacked for the weaker secondary. If I only take one flash, I take the hacked version for more flexibility.

Manfrotto lightstand
Small, light, durable, aluminum, and fairly cheap. I have two of these. They are for putting the flashes on and holding at a certain height. In order to attach the flashes though, you need,

Umbrella swivel
This lets you attach the flash to the stand, insert an umbrella if you wish, and angle the flash up or down. You can also attach it sideways to angle the flash out from the stand.

Softens the light, or if you get silver, it will let you bounce it into it. It serves to modify the light, and make it softer.

This is my wireless system for triggering the flashes. It allows you to place a small, matchbox-sized black box on your camera hotshoe, and then small units on your flashes, and when you take a photo, it will trigger the flashes. This allows you to be very mobile, with no cables, and also to be quite far away. I highly suggest going wireless, but this is the priciest part of the kit. For every new flash you add, you need this kit to trigger it as well.

Skyport to 285hv custom cable
Skyports will NOT fire the new 285hvs without this special cable. It has circuitry inside it of some type so that the two will talk to one another. I chose skyports and the 285hvs because they are the least expensive, but reliable, way into off camera wireless flash. These cables are a small caveat to this combination. The nice thing is that they can now be plugged directly into the flash with a single cable.

Rosco gels
These are for coloring your flashes to either compensate for existing lights that have a color cast (flourescent, tungsten, sodium vapor, candle, etc) or to color your light so it doesn't look neutral. These can be added to your B&H order for 1 penny, but if you find any nearby theatre lighting shops, they will most likely have these, and you can offer to buy one, they'll most likely give it to you. I had to build the edges of mine up with electrical tape so they will slide into the vivitar 285 slot.

Maxpedition sling pack
I love this bag. It's not a camera bag, so it doesn't scream to thieves to steal it. I have to keep my lenses in lens pouches to make it more padded, though the bottom is padded, just not the sides. The reason it's so nice, is that it has compression straps on the bottom, which hold a lightstand and umbrella just great. Since it holds them on the outside, it adds no bulk to the bag itself, so when I am not carrying the lightstand/umbrellas, I can travel with a lighter bag that's still small. It has a ton of pouches for various stuff, and the straps on the outside let me attach my lens pouches stably so that I can have more room inside of the bag. I can carry both flashes, three lenses, the camera body, both lightstands and umbrellas, plus my skyports, gels, extra batteries, etc, all in this bag. I like that it's a sling bag, because I can rotate it around without taking it off, very convenient for a prime lens user like me, where I have to change lenses often.

All of this information is explained very well at the strobist website. I'm only collating an easy to use list to purchase, and explain what I'm using in a quick post. Almost all of my knowledge started with the strobist site, and grew from experimentation and practice.

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