by Gavin Stoker Published 01/12/2012
Sometimes ideas come to you like the proverbial flash - if you'll forgive the pun. For example: perhaps I could extend my photographic offerings and revenue boosting potential by adding a portable lighting set-up or studio to the mix, thus enabling me to deliver more professional portraits on the fly, such as at weddings and events? For social photographers there are currently plenty of affordable, portable and practical lighting options from a wide range of manufacturers, sales and even rental outlets - the obvious, along with the less obvious, of which we've illuminated here.
Bowens and Hireacamera.com
A suitable all-round lighting solution for social photographers - and indeed those at all levels - is provided by Bowens' sturdy feel yet relatively lightweight and portable twin head Gemini 400Rx kit, launched earlier this year. The selling point here is that the Rx heads are conveniently compact yet powerful, plus feature the convenient option of built-in radio triggering via a control unit that sits atop your DSLR's hotshoe. They're mains and battery compatible too and include quick recycle times and a decent flash duration. At the time of writing Warehouse Express was offering the Bowens' Gemini 400Rx twin head umbrella kit for £699.
Pros looking for a bit of extra lighting 'muscle' meanwhile are directed to Bowens' Gemini 500 Pro kit. These have much the same benefits as the Rx units; however, there isn't the built-in radio. Instead the manufacturer provides a plug-in Pulsar radio card that is slotted into the back of the unit; essentially it's an integrated radio triggering system rather than built-in, but Bowens insists it does the same job.
Another thing to mention is that all the Pro heads are multi-voltage.
So in the case of landing a job abroad there's the ability to take your existing units with you rather than hiring on your arrival. Again, the units feature faster recycle times and action-freezing flash durations. All kits can be purchased as studio or location kits, which include Bowens' Travelpak battery system. The Bowens' Gemini 500 Pro Pulsar TX twin head kit can be found at Warehouse Express for £1,189, again around £100 cheaper than Bowens' recommended price.
If the above still sounds a little pricey or you may only occasionally be needing the kits, the other option is to go the rental route and head over to HireaCamera.com, which, as we note in our Company Profile elsewhere in this issue, is now stocking Bowens lighting - having become one of its preferred specialist hire partners. HireaCamera will be stocking the manufacturer's range of still studio lighting plus the new, high-output Limelite Mosaic LED panels popular with videographers and photographers alike.
In particular HireaCamera.com will be hiring out the most popular Bowens' lights, such as the Gemini 400RX kits, as a starting point, with the option of batteries provided as well for outdoor shooters. "We're not trying to replace the Flash Centre but a lot of our customers do want high-quality basic lighting," believes HAC's MD Guy Thatcher. "It's purely down to our customers turning around and saying they want us to be more of a one-stop destination."
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