Travel Light And Pack Flat with LumiQuest

Photography is mobile, now more than ever. Unless you work in a commercial photography studio, you probably go somewhere away from home base to take photos. No matter where you have to set up for a photo, everything  you need has to be with you. So to be mobile, you have to travel light. Thats why there is the LumiQuest Location and Portrait Kit. Lumiquest makes light modifiers that are usually bulky and/or  heavy, and design them to fold flat, weigh next to nothing, and fits into a pouch about the size of an iPad.

LumiQuest Location and Portrait Kit. Folds flat, down to around the size of an iPad. Amazing portability.

This pack-friendly kit that contains the ever-popular Softbox III, the Snoot XTR , and the FXtra gel strap.  The front of the softbox increases the surface area of the light by almost 20 times, leading to softer, less harsh light on the skin. It also ships with a 9 piece gel set for balancing the color of your flash to the ambient light or other artificial lights.  There are two ultra straps included to attach the Softbox III, and the Snoot XTR.

The shipping department in our building is a great example of  poor light, no  angles, and limited space. A speed light in a soft box can be a savior when the light is bad or nonexistent. The Nikon D810 (pre-order the NEW D750 here!) and a Nikon 17-35 f/2.8 can totally handle the lowlight  so I just needed to grab my Lumopro LP18o speedlights, some pocket wizards, and some Lumopro LP605 light stands. I was instantly impressed at how easy the LumiQuest is to set up and go mobile. Which is important when snapping portraits of busy people.

In cinema, light is almost always motivated. That means the light has to look like it is coming from somewhere that is realistically within the scene. With this in mind, I wanted to show the difference a little motivated light can make. We have two exposures of our man Fred– one with flash and one without flash. They were both taken with the same exposure settings. They were even processed with the same Lightroom settings. The light is subtle, but changes the feel of the picture a lot. The Nikon D810 did amazingly well in shadow detail and noise, but the single speedlight adds depth and saturation that is absent without it. It should always draw you eye straight to the subject. No lollygaggin’!

Both photos have same camera settings and same Lightroom settings- 1/60 sec.  f4.5  ISO 320
Both photos have same camera settings and the same Lightroom settings- 1/60 sec.  f4.5  ISO 320
Fred with flash in Softbox III at 1/32 power. 1/60  f4.5  ISO 320
Fred with flash in Softbox III at 1/32 power.
1/60 f4.5 ISO 320

Even when shooting RAW, the temperature of the lights need to be balanced and natural, although the fluorescents in this room actually glow a little on the warm side. Because the fluorescents were warmer than my flash, I put a 1/4 CTO gel on the LP180 with the Softbox III. (For an in depth look at off camera flash be sure to check out the OCF Level 1 Class at the Learning Studio October 23rd!) The attachment point to the flash even allowed me use the built-in gel slot on the LP180! The flash is at camera left in the Softbox III.

In the next shot, from the other side of Fred (his good side) there is a flash with a Snoot XTR. The snooted flash is down to 1/32 power to get some hard light, but not too much. The Softbox III stayed about the same position as the last shot. But because there is no real detail in the background there is very little contrast. That’s where the snoot comes in.

Same settings on both, again- 1/60 sec. f4.5 ISO 320  Left- no flash, Right- with flash. Notice the muddy, low contrast on the left vs. the flash photo on the right.

I really like the quality of the light coming out of the Softbox III. It is very soft for the small size of it, with very little spill. This makes blending the light possible in a ton of lighting situations- super useful for the journalistic style of portraiture. When you compare the quality of the light on the  flash photo, there is a huge difference considering there is really little to no post production.

Fred with flash at 1/32 power in Softbox III and Snoot XTR at 1/64 power. 1/80  f5.6  ISO 320
Fred with flash at 1/32 power in Softbox III and Snoot XTR at 1/64 power.
1/80 sec.  f5.6  ISO 320

With the day on it’s way out, Kelsey, our Inventory Manager, obliged me five minutes of her busy day for a couple of shots. Again, the light from the flash in the Softbox III changes the picture dramatically. Same LP180 in a Softbox III with CTO gel mimic soft sunlight. I went full power and moved it back a little so it was a bit more like late-day sun.

image
Softbox III with CTO gel to mimic soft sunset.

Available light is not always great and you have little control over the quality of the light. You cannot expose for light that is not there! Just like with Fred, blending it in and making it look natural and not like artificial light is the key. The size of the kit makes it easy to set up and break down and make a portrait just about anywhere, with light that is soft, yet strong enough to bring out color and contrast that would never be there without it.

Kelsey with flash at full power.  1/60   f/9  ISO 100
Kelsey with flash at full power.
1/60 sec.  f/9  ISO 100
image
There is no way to keep the sky nice and saturated without adding some light to the subject. When you compress the dynamic range it looks closer to what we see with our eyes.

The flash was strong enough to allow me to go wide and really get a lot of context of the surroundings. Any photographer who is doing location portraits would be in great shape to grab this set-up and go. Adding flash fill light through a softbox really compresses the dynamic range and pops the subject off a shady background and takes it from a snapshot to a portrait. No dodging and burning, no spot adjustments, pretty much out of camera!

Kelsey with flash at full power. 1/60 f/8   ISO 100
Kelsey with flash at full power.
1/60 sec.  F/8  ISO 100

Whether it is casual shots of family, quick portrait sessions, or short deadlines, one light and one modifier can go a really long way. The Location and Portrait Kit is just the right size to fit in even some of the smaller bags that are great for location shooting. Plus, it is built well and feels really durable. Like most photographers these days, I am always looking for ways to pack light and move fast and the LumiQuest Kit exceeds the performance of most other small soft boxes for speedlights. Fast and flexible, with no assistants needed. As with all light modifiers from LumiQuest you don’t have to break your back lugging around  gear to get high quality images right out of camera.

No  brainer. Get it here!!!

 

 

 

TJ Hansen

Photographer at MPEX.com

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