Road Kit v1

I'm getting ready to start taking the first portraits in my "Faces Behind Tech" series.  I'm going to be doing these portraits in two environments with two slightly different setups.  The first is in my home studio where I have a reasonable amount of space, high ceilings, and my not-so-portable studio gear like the Broncolor Para 222 (a 2.2 meter diameter parabolic reflector), big v-flats, my Foba camera stand, etc.  The second environment is on-the-road.  In other words, I'll be setting up in strange locations, using whatever space is available, and using as portable a kit as I can put together to get high quality images.

Today I've been fiddling around with my road kit.  It's important to start with the type of photographs that I'm going to be taking.  These images are going to be black and white portraits taken against a black background.  For each subject I'll do a sequence of head or head & shoulder shots, and a sequence of head shots with posed hands in the frame.  Here's what I've come up with as a first cut.

My subject, Curly, helping me to test out my road lighting kit.

For the background I'm using a Lastolite collapsible background mounted to a standard C-stand with Lastolite's nifty magnetic grip.  The key light is a 39" Elinchrom Octa with both diffusers installed.  (I'm going to try the deep version of the same octabox in the next couple of days.)  I have the key light directly in front of the subject, close, angled down a bit, and as low as I could get without the bottom of the modifier being in frame.  

An octabox this large this close to the subject at this shallow an angle pretty nicely wraps the face with nice soft light and gives a nice round catch light in the upper half of the subject's eye.  That said, given that the light is coming from above and angled downward, it still is going to throw shadows below the subject's nose and chin.  In order to soften these shadows up, given that I want the whole face nicely illuminated so that it pops off the black background, I added a reflector right below the subject's chin.

Curly, as lit by the road kit described in this post.

Curly, as lit by the road kit described in this post.

I'm using Broncolor lights as usual.  If you look carefully enough at this picture, you'll see that I'm using a Move 1200L pack and strobes.  What I will probably actually take with me on the road is one of the new Broncolor Siros monobloc strobes.  Given that I'm only using one light, this will be more compact.  And since I'll mostly be operating without an assistant, the Siros's ability to be controlled from an iOS app will be especially helpful.

What's not shown in the picture of my road kit is the chair I'll be using for the subject (a standard black folding chair with a cushion), and the posing table (funny enough I use a folding 42"x24" adjustable height pet grooming table; this thing is way sturdier than most posing stands, more portable by a mile, and all kinds of adjustable.)

I'll post some pictures over the weekend to show what sort of images I can make with this setup.

Kevin Scott