Going Mobile: Light Creatively with Gear You Can Actually Carry

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Packing and transporting location-lighting gear can take a toll on any photographer. As New York City-based freelance photographer Erik Valind explains, “When using bigger strobes and modifiers, the size and logistics of lugging gear around with you is often times enough of an excuse to leave everything at home.”

Not one to compromise, Valind first found Rogue FlashBenders about three years ago, and he became hooked on the entire line of Rogue Photographic Design’s highly portable light modifiers. Now, says Valind, “I use every piece of their lighting modifier lineup.”

Rogue’s tools include FlashBender Reflectors, flexible modifiers for use with on-camera and off-camera flashguns, as well as soft boxes, honeycomb grids, and gels. Available in a variety of sizes, FlashBenders are lightweight and pack flat for streamlined storage.

Here, Valind shows us two different quick mobile lighting setups.

1) Clamshell Lighting Goes High Key


Photo © Erik Valind

High-key portraiture is less about the quantity of light and more about controlling the light. Valind’s gear for this shoot included two Phottix Mitros+ speedlights, two Rogue FlashBenders to control the light, and a 30-inch silver reflector.

For this symmetrical beauty shot, Valind wanted a “smooth transition in the shadows and an even, soft light on the skin.” To create even light on both sides of the model’s face, Valind used a boom to position a speedlight with a FlashBender XL Pro directly in front of the model, pointed down at a 45 degree angle. To complete the clamshell and to create fill, he placed the 30-inch silver reflector underneath the XL Pro.

The clean, white background was illuminated with the second speedlight positioned behind the model, facing the backdrop. To keep unwanted direct flash off the model, Valind used a FlashBender Large Reflector as a flag to block the light spill. Using the reflector as a flag allowed Valind to overexpose the background, rendering it pure white without affecting the rest of the image.

Watch the step-by-step lighting video at RogueFlash.com.

2) “A Killer Beauty Portrait


Photo © Erik Valind

For this second shot, Valind created a classic three-point lighting setup with a key light, fill light and hair light. “Remarkably,” Valind recalls, “the FlashBender was able to deliver on all three fronts.” To create a more distinctive look, he added color with Rogue Gels.

For the main light, Valind mounted the FlashBender XL Pro with the Strip Grid attachment to one of three flashes. The Strip Grid offers photographers a diffuser with a black fabric grid over the top. The diffuser softened the light on the skin while the grid helped direct the light to the front of the face. He added a ¼ CTO gel to give the model’s fair complexion a warmer, tanned look.

To lessen the intensity of the face-defining shadows, Valind added soft fill light with the FlashBender XL Pro and Diffusion Panel setup as a soft box. He attached a blue gel to the fill light to “add a cooling effect to the shadows below the cheekbone.”

Rounding out the setup, Valind placed a snooted hair light behind the model, this time adding a yellow gel to help the model’s blonde hair pop. As Valind points out, “With the addition of the Rogue Gels, we walked away with a killer beauty portrait using an incredibly mobile setup.”

Watch the step-by-step lighting video at RogueFlash.com

Just how mobile is Valind’s lighting kit? In his travel bag you’ll find his Phottix Mitros+ flashes along with his collection of the versatile Rogue FlashBenders, Rogue Grids, and Rogue Flash Gels. “Everything packs up so easily that I always have an off-camera lighting kit with me now,” Valind says. “No excuses!”


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