Written by William Algar-Chuklin
Elite studio photographers find they get their best results when they have the right equipment on hand. This can be easy when you’re working in a studio space and out of the elements, but what options are available for those out
and about? Let’s cover that today with our roundup of essential portable studio equipment for photographers on the go!
Shooting on the go can be tough. You never really know what to expect and it can be hard to decide what gets put in the camera bag and what gets left behind. This is my non-comprehensive list of essentials for shooting on the
This one goes without saying. Much like the saying that the best camera is the one you have with you, the best tripod is the one you take with you. I never leave home without at
least a light and portable carbon fibre tripod. I’ve found it’s been invaluable in the night and travel photography I love. I even wrote a whole article on finding the
right tripod for you, which I’d recommend reading for a more indepth look on tripods.
The 5-in-1 reflector is one of my favourite pieces of portable equipment. It’s foldable, compact and shockingly versatile.
It comes in:
Flashguns are extremely versatile. They work in a lot of different situations and if lots of different types of photography and honestly, Flashguns deserve a whole blog post to themselves.
For photographers on the go though, I’ve found that flashguns can be useful in these two situations.
When you’re shooting in harsh daylight, you can often be dealing with strong sharp shadowing from the sun. Flashguns can be a useful source of fill light in these situations. Having a powerful enough flash, or a flashgun with
High Speed Sync (HSS) like the hähnel Modus 600RT can help you control the lighting on your subject. This type of lighting works really well as an off
camera flash, in conjunction with a scrim diffusing direct sunlight as mentioned earlier.
Flashguns are commonly used in dark environments like indoor events. Getting a flashgun with a TTL (Through The Lens) metering system that matches your camera’s make can be a lifesaver in these situations. Often used as an
off camera flash, or as a bounce light (shooting the light into a ceiling or wall), this can be an easy way to improve your image quality by reducing low light noise and slow shutter speed shake.
Portable softboxes can be a great way of projecting soft even lighting on your subject. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the light source the softer the light.
Magnetic systems like the hähnel Module Clamp have become very popular and allow you to mount something like the
hähnel Module Softbox for a quick and portable softbox for any situation.
Gels allow for the colour of a light to be modified. This can be particularly useful if you’re trying to match the colour of the ambient lights around you, and can help when colour correcting in post. Coloured gels can also be
used for artistic flair when shooting. For instance you might want to use a coloured gel on a flashgun lighting the background of your subject.
Hahnel also makes a nice Light Effects Kit to work with the clamp system mentioned above, with an added bounce card and grid.
Useful when shooting with off camera flash, a grid can help direct light at a subject while avoiding lens flares and light spilling onto the background of your image. Very useful to have should the situation call for it!
These are my main picks for essential portable studio gear to take with you. Small enough to fit in your camera bag, they can be lifesavers when dealing with the challenging conditions of shooting out and about.
If you need more information on Lighting or other accessories, check out more articles on the C.R. Kennedy blog.
William Algar-Chuklin is a night and travel photographer based in Sydney, Australia. You can check out some of his work at walgarch.com and on Flickr
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