Back in February (at Focus on Imaging, in fact) I bought a couple of new Bowens 400 studio flash heads along with two battery packs. The kit came with a single battery but I thought that as I would be using these partly for group shoots, it might be an idea to get a 2nd battery, just to be on the safe side.
Having given the lights and batteries a test in the studio first, I finally arranged a suitable run-out – the “Urban Location Model Shoot“, which was held on Sunday evening. A small group of participants plus my assistant Simon, regular Fotofilia model Michelle Grice (http://www.michellegrice.com/) and myself walked to at our first location, a local multi-storey car park (most of the gear being lugged by poor Simon). It’s worth pointing out at this point that despite my best efforts, I hadn’t secured any permission to be shooting there but as it was a Sunday evening, there was no one around and very few cars, especially on the upper levels.
Starting with a single light fitted with a square softbox, we began photographing Michelle. As expected, the quality and power of the light was just as if the head had been plugged into the mains. We made the most of the fading ambient light by setting shutter speeds at 1/30 or 1/60. Then we added a second light trained on the background and fitted with a spill-kill and blue gel. This added a whole new dimension to the shots, the blue-tinged second light helping the background to “recede”. With two lights now being powered by the battery, one at almost full power, the recycling time was around 5-6 seconds, something that took a little getting used to when you’ve developed a “rapid fire” habit that comes of constant studio shooting. I wondered how the battery was coping but was reassured to see that all 4 power lights were still lit, indicating 100% charge even after an hour of shooting.
Eventually, and inevitably, a white van appeared containing two bemused security guards. After a few questions, they left us to it but we had finished with this location by that time and quickly packed away (while Michelle changed) to move to the 2nd location just a few hundred yards away.
Using a simlar two light combination we began shooting again and once again the power and convenience of the Bowens kit was wonderful. I’ve shot in this location many times but have never had the luxury of such great lighting to play with.
Overall, we were lucky we didnt have to haul this kit across muddy fields or through torrential rain (we were given a heaven-sent reprieve from that for a whole day) because, though portable, it isnt light, especially when accompanied by an additonal battery, an assembled softbox and the two stands. I’d also been careful to select the softbox rather than umbrellas as there was a strong breeze when I left home and didn’t want to be flying Poppins-stylee over the rooftops of Hockley. As it turns out, the second battery was completely un-necessary: even after a good couple of hours of shooting with two lights, the battery was still showing 100% charge. I’m very impressed with this kit and look forward to using it again soon. Here’s some more of my shots from the evening…