Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Gear Talk // What’s in my Lighting Bag 2020



I have been getting a lot of questions lately about my camera gear and what I use day to day on assignments and to that end I’m going to be doing some blog posts on my kit and various loadouts. 

Today we are going to start with my lighting bag. If you prefer watching a video tutorial then please pop over to my YouTube channel and if you want to pick up any of the kit mentioned I have tried to collate as much as possible into this amazon shop. I also generally post behind the scene images and shots over on my instagram page too if that’s of interest.



I have used the ThinkTank Security rolling bag for the last 12 years. This bag is a beast and although it is battered, it is still going (relatively) strong. I think they are on version 3.0 of this bag, this one is version 1.0 - the original! These are built to last, they have a lifetime warranty and are designed by photographers so they have tonnes of really well thought out features. This one for example has a cable lock built in and zip locks too. The rear section even has backpack straps which are great if you need to lump this bag away from urban areas. If you want to pick them up in the UK Snapperstuff and Fixation are good bets along with the usuals such as Wex Photo and Video.

Inside the bag I tend to transport two or three lights depending on the job. These will either be Profoto B1s' (500W) or Profoto B10s' (250W). Recently I have been packing one Profoto B1 head along with the two B10 heads. What I love about these lights is that they are wireless and they work really well. I have one or two gripes about the B10s' (the tightening knob looks beautiful but it’s lack of any kind of grip can make it tricky to work with sometimes, and the lack of a PC sync port on the heads does mean you are reliant on using triggers)



Also in the bag I have what I call my 'trigger bag’, which as you can guess contain triggers for the lights. I currently use the Profoto Air Remote TTL. I have one of these for my Canon kit and one for my Fujifilm kit. This allows you to control the power of the lights remotely and a number of assigned channels. The only thing is that they don’t tell you is the power of the lights. The Profoto App however works with the B10s' and is actually quite handy (unfortunately it won’t work with the older B1s'). Along with that trigger I carry some cheap radio triggers as a back up. As I mentioned the B10s' can’t work with these because of their lack of PC sync ports but if using a B1 I can fire the B10s' via slave if I needed too. Generally I don’t need these triggers but I have in the past (on at elast one occasion) destroyed my main trigger on set and needed these as backup. 



Other things in this bag include spare pc sync cables, camera trigger cables, spare AAA batteries, velcro zip ties, bungee cords and sharpies. Velcro Zip ties are a godsend! They are reusable and can be used for all manor of things - from keeping cables tidy to holding up backdrops (I’ve held heavy canvas tarpaulins up with these threaded through the tarps eyelets - velcro has amazing strength) 



At the top of the bag I have a small ‘Grip bag’. This is full of spigots and various other grip. The bag itself I believe is a Muji wash bag, but it works well for this as it is made of tough wearing material. It holds all sort of paraphernalia that has proved useful on shoots; croc clips, bungee cords, Super clamps, umbrella clamps, A-clamps, cold shoes etc. Generally when you are lighting on location it’s really important to have grip that will help you manipulate your physical environment to allow you to create the lighting you want. This could be blocking natural light, flagging things, shaping light, rigging your own lights etc - so you really need a good bag of tools to help with that. 


Next up is a small pouch that I try to always have on me especially on big sets. This particular one is by a company called Life Behind Bars and I picked it up in Indonesia whilst working out there. There are plenty of other options - if you search for EDC pouch I’m sure you will find something similar. It contains


  • A Seconic Flashmate L-308S light meter
  • Grey, White and Black Card
  • A sharpie
  • A ThorFire PF02 LED torch
  • A Leatherman Wave with the additional Bit Kit

Tape is important, I have a least two types. Gaffer tape for general stuff and bright orange tape to mark positions or to wrap around the end of a brolly so someone avoids poking their eye out etc. In with these I also have a small Honl 1/8th Grid which can be taped onto the front of a B1 or B10. 



I generally have one or two Manfrotto (001B) Nano stands in the lighting bag too. These are useful for small lights or to hold up flags or reflectors etc. I normally always travel with two other master stands (Manfrotto 1052BAC stacking stands) in a stand bag along with two Profoto brollies. Therefore this gives me four stands to work with. Sometime I will have more, sometimes less, depending on the job.



In the main section I also carry 8x AA and 11x AAA eneloop rechargeable batteries in small plastic cases. These I use for the triggers and walkie talkies if needed. I moved over to rechargeable batteries a few years ago and have never looked back. That said I also have backups of Duracell AA and AAA batteries elsewhere in the case. 




In the inside zippered compartments I have the following:
  • ‘datacolor Spyder Check4 24’ colour checking card for getting a consistent colour reading throughout a shoot.
  • Ear Plugs
  • Mints and Chewing Gum
  • Eye Drops (a photographer is no good with grit in his/her eye)
  • Cleaning Wipes
  • Nano Pads
  • Model Releases
  • Cheat Sheet with a photographers legal rights
  • Model Releases
  • Silica Gel (just in case stuff needs drying out)
  • Spare sealable plastic bags (to be used in conjunction with the silica gel)
  • Basic OpTech USA Waterproof Camera cover


On the front of the bag I store the following
  • 2x black corrugated plastic sheets that I can use as flags - these are 460mm x 310mm in dimension and fit snuggly in the from pocket.
  • Black wrap or cinefoil which I again use to make flags or channel lighting
  • A4 Craft foam in grey and black (again for flags)
  • Rogue Flashbender (this I might use if I have the Profoto A1 head with me as it fits around it like a snoot and can be shaped in various configurations)
  • Whiteboard card and pen which I sometimes use to jot down a diagram with lighting setups. I then can shoot an assistant holding this up to camera in the lighting set up so that I can use it later as reference back at the studio.
  • Tin Foil which can act as a powerful reflector in a pinch

As I mentioned at the start I have listed a lot of these items over at my amazon storefront so if you want to add any of this stuff to your own kit, you shoul dbe able to find most of it there.

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