Choosing Cases and Carts

Choosing Cases and Carts
You can’t exactly put this stuff in your pocket. And what you get to carry it around will be largely driven by, well, what you care carrying around.

Most of you will end up using two small lights with stands and mods and a modest bag of camera gear. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. You can do a ton of cool stuff with two speedlights. I have gone far past that level of gear in the past, and often to my regret.

If that’s you, grab the shoulder-slung camera bag of your choice. Then augment it with this:

The LumoPro Padded Lighting Case is cheap ($30), lightweight, protective and perfect for a two-speedlight lighting kit. It’ll carry two compact stands, speedlights, mods and various doo-dads perfectly.

If you need to go beyond that, I’d take a serious look at ThinkTank bags for your fragile gear and whatever size sling bag you need for the stands/long mods.

ThinkTanks are fantastic: well-built and well-designed (and frequently updated by the thinking photographers who design them.) I absolutely love mine and I recommend them without reservation.

For a camera/laptop backpack (not a roller) I’d say go with the Airport Essentials case. It holds a good amount of stuff, very securely. It’s also the perfect size to curl up with on a plane in coach. Just put it on your lap, wrap your arms around it and rest your head atop it on that Toys-R-Us pillow they give you. That’s the best way I know to sleep on a plane.

If you need more capacity (or wheels) step up to any of ThinkTank’s bigger rollers without hesitation. They are all solid choices. Capacity-wise, they go pretty much from “mirrorless cameras” to “I need to move a body.”


Or rather, cart. Because there is one, standout choice.

I hesitate to even bring this up. But one day you may find yourself looking at a pile of bags and light stand slings and rollers and you may start thinking, “I need a cart to do all of this in one trip.”

Let me first say that I do not envy you. And second, also say that I have been there myself. Not full-blown McNally-ladened, but too much to carry in one trip. By a long shot.

When that day comes, you’ll start thinking about a folding cart. And rather than endure all of the mistakes (and wasted money) that I did, I am going to suggest you go straight to a Rock-n-Roller MultiCart.

Why MultiCart? Solid build, folding, expand to a big size if needed, can be a dolly, can hold a board to double as a digital tech’s desk on set”you name it. They rock. And roll.

They make several sizes, but I recommend either the R-8 (smaller) or the R-12 (bigger).

If you have not yet heard of them, that is because they were originally designed and marketed for the music industry. (Those guy hump a lot of gear around, too.) But increasingly, they have been adopted by backache-plagued photographers everywhere.

They are highly functional, versatile and built like tanks. Either of these will likely be the last cart you ever buy.

As a bonus, you will likely (and hopefully) use them more around the house than you even do for work. At least I hope so. Because it kinda sucks to travel with that much gear in tow every day.

But if you are gonna, this is your cart.

NEXT: Books and More

Choosing Hard and Specialty Modifiers

Choosing Hard and Specialty Modifiers
We tend to start out using soft light at a 45-degree angle because it is an easy fix, and it’s hard to go seriously wrong doing that.

But there are all kinds of light mods, and often choices other than default soft three-quarter light can be more interesting. My favorites are snoots, grids and ring adapters.

Snoots are like little tunnels you attach to your flash to block part of the light beam. Snoots are not rocket science — we are just blocking some light. And cardboard works just fine to create tight zones of light that you can use to create something like the photo above.

For grid spots, which work like snoots but have a much more beautiful fall-off to the edge of the light, you can DIY them out of straws but it is a pain in the ass and not really worth the effort for many. My advice? Get a Honl eighth-inch grid and be done with it. They will last forever (seriously, indestructible) and they fit all speedlights.

I’d nix the velcro mounting system, however. Mod it with elastic for quick changes and you’ll be good to go.

A less expensive (but flash-specific) alternative are the DIY-ish grids from SaxonPC. (Seen above, more info on those here.)

Also in the specialty mod category are speedlight ring flash adapters. They turn your small flash into a donut of light that can give you a beautiful, shadowless look for key or fill. My two favorites here are the Orbis and the RoundFlash. Both have a very good quality of light. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

For the record, I have owned five different commercial ring flashes (and adapters): Profoto, ABR800, Ray Flash, RoundFlash and Orbis. I use the Orbis more than all of the others combined.

Whatever you do, avoid the Chinese knockoffs of the Ray Flash. They are light-sucking pieces of junk, and are rarely anywhere near color correct. But they are cheap!

Seriously, if you’re that broke you’ll be better off home-brewing a cardboard DIY ring flash adapter for the time being.

NEXT: Tripods