April 25, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

A few of the stunning photographs from a really great shoot on Sunday with professional model and actress Lucy Scarfe The shoot was arranged by my friend Radek of

To accompany the photos here's a little story about how I have recently upgraded some of my flash equipment to professional portable units.

My Canon 600EX-RT speedlights have been great, but at times in the studio the batteries would run out and when out on location they could be a bit weak to overpower the sun and fill-in shadows when photographing models. Since my youth when I got a summers work at The Flash Centre in London I've been a fan of the Elinchrom range. Although I had been unable to afford the actual strobes myself I had long ago made the unconscious decision to buy lighting modifiers with an Elinchrom fit to use with adapters with my Canon 600EX-RT units. As I said, the battery life even with external power for the Canons was starting to be a bit of an inconvenience so I finally dropped some cash on a pair of Elinchrom DLite 4 RX units on eBay. Oh what a revelation. Power for days and big power at that. Each DLite is equivalent to about 6 Canons. The only disadvantage of the Dlites is that it's not possible to turn the power down as low as the Canons. But I love using them in my studio.

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Over the 2016-2017 Xmas break I was able to hire the portable Elinchrom equivalent to the DLites: An ELB400 kit with HiSync transmitter and a 70cm Deep Octa Softbox. Ten days hire for the price of one was not to be missed. It was fabulous to use the power I had got used to on a location shoot, so when an ex-demo ELB400 came up on eBay I made a bid and much to my surprise won the auction.

It is this ELB400 kit which packs down small enough to fit in my 20 litre camera bag with my camera, headphones and other essentials and which now goes with me every time I'm doing a location shoot. 

On my first location shoot with the ELB400 I took an umbrella and stand which even though it was weighed down was getting blown about in the wind. I've since learned that just taking a pole for an assistant to hold the light is the best option. A couple of weeks ago I found the fabric of the small Elinchrom Portalite Octa in an ex-demo bin for £20. Normally this modifier is around £160 so to get the fabric at that price was a bargain. I did have to buy an adapter at another £20. One thing I didn't buy as original equipment was the support rods which are an incredible £8 each. I needed 8!!!! I was able to source some stainless steel rod on Amazon and some protective tips which allowed me to make the set of rods for about £10.

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The great thing about this small octabox over an umbrella is that it uses the Elinchrom Quadra mount which means the umbrella hole is free to take a deflector which turns the octabox into a portable folding beauty dish. Woo Hooo. Normal beauty dishes are literally solid aluminium dishes from 40cm and bigger. Lightweight but awkward to pack and carry. My new octabox does the same thing and pack into a space the size of a tube of pringles. Result.

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It's early days but I'm loving my new set up. There's still so much to learn but results like these are making it a joy.

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