Traveling With Light

Occasionally folks have asked, especially in terms of speed lights, how many do I travel with and how do I pack them? So, here goes.

Will enumerate the above as we go. This picture is a tad dated, as we now travel with a couple other things. Been experimenting with the Lastolite Micro Apollo speed light boxes. And, we have tried some magnetized grid systems, which are cool. But the above is a kit we travel with, presented in all its various pieces.

First piece of the puzzle is the case, which is a Thinktank Logistics Manager. Any sensitive gear we have that we throw in the hold of an airplane goes into these now. They are tough, and well designed.

Of course, the flashes come first. I carry a mix of ten SB 900 and 910 units. They work, and are quite durable. Some of my 900 speed lights have easily more than a half million air miles on them, and remain in working order. Along with them, we have accumulated over the years a bunch of SD-9 external battery packs. I tend to use the packs that are proprietary to the system. It just presents less of a danger for over-clocking your flash. Chargers are crucial. We use Maha quick chargers, with Powerex batteries. That combo has worked well for us. We keep two mesh bags in the case–green for charged batts, and red for uncharged. We don’t use ring flash too often, but we throw a Ray Flash in there for good measure.

We use a variety of sizes of the ThinkTank cable organizer bags, for three SC-29 cords, flashlights, tape, gels, utility knives, head lamps, etc.  We also bring along two sets of Pocket Wizards, with multiple backup Wizard to PC cables, and camera remote cables. We are currently using the PWIII’s and the newer PlusX models. The PlusX units are outstanding. Affordable, no frills, and they work. Also into the case goes a spare Hoodman Loupe.

Additionally, we take two small light shapers with us, the Flashpoint Beauty Dish, and the Flashpoint Snooted Grid. Mixed in are some Honl bits and pieces, like speed gobos, and some velcro straps for attaching cutters and flags to the speed light heads. Also, invariably, a roll of gaffer tape makes it into the case.

For coloring light, we bring along a couple of the Strobist gel kits, and mixes of other gels, which we organize into our color correction kit, and our theatrical gel kit. Both are housed in ThinkTank gel wallets. A former assistant, Will Foster, had the idea to cut the seam on the ThinkTank flash card organizers to make room for small flash gels, and ThinkTank got wind of it, and started officially making them.

An additional light shaper I’m quite fond of also travels in the kit, and that’s the Lastolite Speed Light Soft Box. It collapses really small, and has an interior diffuser, which I like, so for a small light shaper, it puts out a nice quality of light.

Throw in some various magic markers,  and the instruction manuals for all the products, and we are good to go. This case, you may have noticed, has blue tape on everything. Whatever is blue taped, goes in this bag. That way, it sits on the shelf, complete, and we know, when we’re moving fast to the airport, it’s complete. Yank it off the shelf, throw into checked baggage, and when I get to location (presumably it has followed me there) I can light just about whatever I confront. The whole thing doesn’t travel all the time, but most of the time, for sure.

I hope this is helpful to those folks who have asked about what we travel with in terms of small flash, and how it’s packed. Many thanks to Lynda Peckham, at our studio, a fine photog, and organizing force of nature, who created the packing system, and shot the above pix. More tk….

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