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Lighting cases? are they really worth it?

Over the last few months I've been contemplating on buying a new case for my lighting gear. Why do I need to replace it. You'll see soon enough.. I have been using a "janky" rolling case to carry my lighting equipment in. Its not the best but it did the job.. until the handle broke. That case has taken a bit of abuse. I was packing my Elinchrom ELB400Quadra Ranger,modifiers and other stuff. I would do everything I could to play Tetris with my gear to take what was necessary. 

How does one know what is necessary on a shoot? How do you pack for a shoot that you have an idea of where it's going to be and changes last minute? You can only pre-plan for what you know is going to happen. The shoot you already have pre-planned. Sometimes we have to take some very few extra things with us. Since I was running out of room in my "lighting bag" I had to figure out a way to take it with me. Some of the over flow would go into my gym bag with my clothes in it. I don't really have a problem doing that, but going to a shoot and not having the proper gear because you couldn't put it in there. There's no excuse for that. 

There are so many companies that have travel cases. Pelican, Lowerpro, HPRC, Porta Brace are all great companies that have very durable cases. I chose to go with ThinktankI chose this company because I had already purchased the Thinktank Airport International V2 (pictured above) last year and have been extremely satisfied with the durability of this piece. I am able to pack that guy up hard and heavy. Regardless of how heavy it is, I'm still able to put it in the overhead compartment. I'm glad that TSA doesn't check the weight on my bag either...lol

suit case vs Pro mas 40.jpg

So back to the new roller bag. The case I chose to purchase was the new Thinktank Production Manager 40. This is an animal of a case. The dimensions are 15.7"x40"x12.6" WxHxD aka a whole lotta room. Those are the outside dimensions. Inside its 13.7"x38"x10" WxHxD. You can place a couple of small/medium light stands in there. Mono blocks, flatheads, umbrellas and more. Myself I'm putting all my lights in there, reflector batteries, anything else I can do to make my carry on bag easier. The previous bag is a normal clothing roller bag for clothes. Sometimes you just have to create make shift cases for what you need. 

Why this case? Did you see the price on that thing? Seriously?? That's a lot of money for a case guy... come on. I could bought.... Look, when you have a crappy clothing roller bag with out real protection for thousands of dollars of gear. Do you really want to trust a clothing bag for your stuff? I think not. I think if you want protection you will go out and invest in what has been proven to be good equipment. Pictures are included to show the layout of the old and new. 

I spent a good amount of time thinking of how to arrange everything in this case. Think tank provided many different dividers for this case so you can really customize it to your needs and likings. I was able to really tweak this badboy to my specific needs. I placed my light modifiers light stands easily in the case. That was really where I started arranging everything. I was concerned that I was not going to be able to find a way to adjust to what I had to place in it. 

I feel a lot more comfortable that I can pack everything a lot better with all my gear much easier. I placed all the details of how I placed all my stuff in my case. I could maybe place another light stand but I have a small carry on nightstand that goes on my Thinktank Security International case. I happen to weight this after all this gear went in here. It came out to be about 55 pounds. So, if I have to I can cheat by placing one or two things into the gym bag with my clothes. Since I usually fly with Southwest Airlines, they have a 50 lbs. limit on the check in. I don't know yet I may play the system... we'll see..lol

Thank you again for coming by to check out the latest blog. I hope this mini review helps out a bit. I may do a video about this to really see more details about the case. Next week, I will be attending a business locally in Clarksville Tn. This company is locally own and has been in business for over 40 years but looking at this place, you could never tell. 

I copied your what???

Photography by definition is the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (such as film or an optical sensor. In plain English, a light graph. It just happens to have a person, car, animals, etc. We have to have light in order to be able to record it. Without light there is no picture. 

We all get caught up by camera gear. The camera someone is using, the types of modifiers but more importantly the type of light is being produced and quality of that light. We as photographers, do our very best to come up with what we consider to be a great image. We use whatever light we have available to us. It could be an available light, a speed light, or a strobe. It's whatever one chooses to use as a light source. Sometimes, some of the images are lit the same way. The trusted side lighting to accent the musculature,  I love my Elinchrom lights. I don't go anywhere without my ELB400, Quadra Ranger, Rotalux softbox and EL-SkyPort HS.

Lighting-1.jpg

I don't believe anyone walks around with a play by play diagram book of lighting diagrams in hand. There are too many issues at stake and no set up will be identical. Distances will vary light output may vary. For the most part, we use our eyes as a guide to see if we like the light or chose to change it. Some like it dark, others don't. I personally like to control my shadows. I find shadows to be more interesting then the highlights sometimes.

IFBB PRO Jason Huh          Photo by Per Bernal

IFBB PRO Jason Huh          Photo by Per Bernal

Some photographers chose to mix the ambient light with the artificial light created. Other photographers like to separate them from everything. I personally love the overhead lighting. Its mimicking the sun. Creating hard shadows on the muscles but defining them. Highlights are created  on the upper shoulder area. I use this lighting because its close to that of Per Bernal << (image above). I have gone thought so many magazines and images online. Per Bernal as I see it, is the standard of real fitness photography. He has created many epic images throughout his career. To say that I am mimicking this lighting? maybe..? but then when I see images from other photographers images its the same lighting style. The lighting I see is a main light to the front and two side lights to accent the body. (As seen in the first image with the two blue lights and yellow as a main light.) No one can really trademark lighting style and claim that for themselves. We do we feel is right whether its lens choice or lighting style. We each do what we want for our images. One thing that each photographer must do is become unique and find their own style based on whomever they idolize and try and make it unique to themselves. 

Mr. Classic Physique Olympia Danny Hester photograph by Hector Mendoza ©Mdozaphotography

Mr. Classic Physique Olympia Danny Hester photograph by Hector Mendoza ©Mdozaphotography

I ask questions to learn what's right and wrong in the photography world from other photographers in the industry. Some will guide you in the right direction enough to let you use your imagination. Others, will make up an excuse and not be direct with their answers; sugarcoat the truth. Whatever the case maybe, practice your craft, learn the capabilities of your camera. Learn your lighting style and what it can do for you. Work that one piece of gear till you know the full capabilities. Know what your highlights (bright spots and shadows (dark spots) are doing based on how you have it set up. 

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you didn't know before this, I also have a Youtube with different content about interviews camera gear that I use or abuse. Thank you for reading this blog.

 

Buy? Sell? or Trade?? That.... is the question?

During a recent meeting of the Student Nashville Fashion Alliance at Nossi College of Art, I found out that my favorite light is for sale. Well, one of them... The Quadra Ranger by Elinchrom. Now the question is should I trade one light for another even though its the same company???

I have a D-lite 4 strobe by Elinchrom (retail $406.99) that really just sits because I really just rely on my Elinchrom ELB400 and Quadra Ranger packs. Both packs are stand-alone because they have their own power source. The D-lite 4 which is my "studio light" needs a power source.

Now, here's the kicker. I have a Paul C Buff mini Vagabond (retail 239.99)  that IS it's own power supply. So now the question is, Why are you trying to get rid of it? You already have a third light? What's the big deal? The big deal is this... The D-lite 4 and the Quadra Ranger are both the exact same power. The both push 400w (joules). Both can be triggered by the Elinchrom EL-Skyport HS transmitter. Both are identical in functionality, but the Quadra can be controlled from the remote control to adjust the power. That function can't be controlled from the D-lite 4. You have to walk over to the light, adjust the power settings, and return to your spot. So now you're thinking "Yea, big deal right?" Well, when you're on location shooting with a client. that is a big deal. This saves you time and stress. Who know's what the client or athlete in my case is thinking. 

Now the Buy sell or Trade part of this. The Quadra pack is 400.00 bucks, here's proof. 

Now, this sale applies to students enrolled in the Photo Video program with https://www.photovideoedu.com . That's the only way to get it at that price. The so called street price is what is the price everywhere else. Oh yeah, I forgot, it also comes with a free transmitter. Which I wouldn't mind having, Anyway, going back to this... Option A,. Buy this and have another light.... Option B., Sell the D-Lite 4 which isn't holding up much is the trade in value, but I could get a couple of bucks on Craigslist for it. Since, most of the time you see some cheap stuff on there. Option C, trade or sell in the Vagabond Mini and the D-Lite 4 to balance out the price of the whole thing. 

I've spent since Wednesday thinking about this.. The good thing is that the sale doesn't expire till the end of the year. The bad thing is having to deal with the extra weight and not having a carry case for all three. Maybe I should just do that? Get a case to fit all my lights in. Damn, first world problems right? I'm going to have to think about this a bit more. Because, like asking a lady if she's wants to pick a restaurant and is un-decisive and what she's craving.... so am I. 

Thoughts???

Shooting with "El Flacko" Edward Alvarez

Friday July 16 2017

A bright and early drive down to Armor Gym in Knoxville TN. Got up and drove down to Knoxville gym. The drive was somewhat pleasant despite the bad driving abilities from other Tennessean drivers that early in the morning. 

I had met IFBB pro Edward Alvarez in Charlotte NC. earlier in the year during the Europa Charlotte in April. The meeting was quite brief and he really liked my contest coverage images that I had been taking. I had a chance to meet him again at the Europa Dallas show. We exchanged  contact information and discussed a possible photoshoot sometime in the future. He had seen my work off Instagram and wanted to shoot. We never had a place set yet but he knew he wanted to do the photoshoot for sure. After the Chicago pro at the end of June, Edward was set on doing the shoot. He wanted to come to TN to do the shoot but since he was located in Charlotte N.C. I didn't want him to have to come all the way to Nashville. I did some research, found a gym in Knoxville. I chose to use Armor Gym since I knew there was plenty of space and equipment. Friday morning myself my son and my friend Cindy all drove down in Cindy's car to Knoxville for the shoot.

Once we got down to the gym, I spoke to the manager of the gym, asked what the procedures were to set up the gym. He was very nice and easy to work with. I was allowed to use the facilities and was very happy that I chose his gym to shoot with, so was I.

I met up with Edward a few mins later. I spoke for a bit, started setting up my gear and on we started

During the shoot, Cindy was nice enough to grab some photos from her Cell phone and snapped away while I worked. I asked her if she wanted to grab my small camcorder to video some of the session. She picked up the camera and shot away. Edward and I shot for about 2 hours while he actually worked out. He managed to get every major body part worked out. Once the shoot was done, I had him pick out one image to send him so he could post. Once he did, I did some quick photo retouching and sent it to him. Once I got home I finished looking at all the images. I still have to send him the images in small res so he can finish picking out his favorites. He was very happy with the images that he saw out of the camera. He mentioned that it was the first of my more to come. it makes me happy to know that my clients are happy with their images.

What's in your camera bag with Famed fitness photographer Salomon Urraca

Salomon Urraca
World renown photographer and photographer for Muscular Development Latino on "What's in your camera bag"

Salomon talks about his choice of camera equipment, lenses and lighting choices. He has shot some of the best bodies in the fitness industry. 

Thanks to Salomon Urraca for the time he gave me out of his busy schedule. I really appreciate  it

IFBB Guy Cisternino posing for the first time since the Phototoxicity

IFBB Pro Guy Cisternino poses at the Dexter Jackson Memphis Classic. The show was located at the Cannon Center in Memphis Tennessee. Guy took some time off after the New York Pro who had Phototoxicity (skin response resembles an exaggerated sunburn). After a month off from the gym with nothing but cardio, he was convicted by IFBB Pro Dexter Jackson to pose at his show.

Mdozaphotography presents Carbing up with... 212 IFBB Pro Gabe Cortez

212 IFBB Pro Gabe Cortez who competed at the Europa Dallas Pro in June, is having his last set of Carbs before he goes to bed. Gabe Cortez won 1st place in the middle weight class at the 2015 NPC USA,  earning his IFBB pro card. He invited us to his house in Fate Texas just outside Dallas Texas. I have a quick chat with him on Carb choices, secret sauces, and his trophy room.