The Camera Bag: OctoDome + Backpack = Handsfree Lighting Solution
posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:09 AM EDT
Though it may look strange and unwieldy, we found this lighting solution created by photographer Ian Spanier to be oddly charming and, potentially, quite effective. Spanier made it by combining a Photoflex OctoDome NXT "extra small" softbox kit ($184) with a Lowepro Scope Porter 200 AW Backpack ($159) designed for birding enthusiasts.
The reason behind this awkward looking creation? The New York-based Spanier was assigned to photograph a "day-in-the-life" feature on renowned bodybuilder Jay Cutler for Muscular Development magazine but didn't have big enough of a budget to hire an assistant to bring along.
Since Cutler lives in Las Vegas where the bright sun can produce harsh shadows and dark interiors can create challenging exposures, Cutler knew he would need more than natural light or basic strobe flash to capture the shots he wanted.
Here's how Spanier describes the situation on his Tumblr blog:
"I’ve shot these kind of stories before, and many times I will just go available light, to be able to get closer, and more 'fly-on-the wall' with the subject. We all learn from our best shoots and our worst shoots, and although the available light thing worked for me on a few of these kinds of stories, it failed however whenever I found myself in situations of extreme exposures. Cutler’s home base of Vegas is all about that. It’s bright as hell outside and inversely dark inside. Balancing that would be easy if I had my assistant and time to make adjustments, so how could I solve this without?"
For the light he wanted, Spanier fitted a Canon Speedlite 580EX flash ($449) into the OctoDome.
But since he didn't have an assistant to carry the set-up around, he decided to try to jury-rig it into a backpack while planting the power source inside. Since birders typically bring along a spotting scope on a long tripod, the Lowepro Scope Porter 200 AW birding pack provided the ideal shape and height for Spanier's DIY lighting solution. (See it in action below.)
You can read more about the Octodome Backpack here.
Though Spanier hasn't posted the photos that resulted from the Jay Cutler shoot yet, you can see more of his photography work here. (And yes, the lighting in his portraits is beautiful.)