Big Gig = Mandatory Equipment Upgrade

Dr Lillis of Lake Loveland Dermatology, Loveland, Colorado

Dr Lillis of Lake Loveland Dermatology, Loveland, Colorado

Back in December I paired up with local business Mueller & Associates, a Loveland and Estes-based CPA office, to do some advertising photography for their 2013 advert campaign. They are updating their company brand and have chosen over a dozen of their most recognizable clients from the Northern Colorado area to offer testimonials about the services they’ve received from Mueller & Associates.

I am very excited about this project. It has been my debut commercial assignment and it has already proven to be one of my favorite gigs to date. We’re only a few shoots in, and so far the clients we’ve featured range from football teams to a micro brewery, a high-end mountain bike suspension engineer to dermatologists; and the diverse nature of each shoot has been an incredible learning experience. I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing -and delightfully challenging- opportunity right out of the gate.

In order to accomodate the diverse needs of this project, and made possible by the paychecks it will bring my way, I decided it was time to make the leap and purchase professional-grade mobile lighting. I knew that if I wanted to do right by my clients I had to have equipment that could meet the following demands:

  • portability  – I need to be able to drag these lights over hell and high water without the restriction of a three-pronged energy leash
  • intensity – these lights must have the juice to overpower the giant lightbulb in the sky; allowing me 100% control over any location
  • versatility – not only do I want a lot of watts, the lights need to be fully adjustable down to nearly no lumens at all. Plus, I want a boat load of accessory options that are easily swappable and well built since I’m often hard on my equipment

Originally I had my money on the Quantum Qflash X5dR but I soon realized they weren’t as versatile as hoped, and the overall purchase cost (with batteries, wireless accessories and such) was reaching the top end of my budget… and that’s for only one light when I was hoping to afford a set of three. Yeesh.  The Qflash offers great recycle time, perfect color, a compact package, lots of power, and a host of other perks but I just couldn’t justify the price point.

Quantum Instruments Qflash X5dR
Amazing, pricey and a bit rigid in functionality.

After many late night Google parties and chat room visitations I eventually decided to go with the Paul C. Buff Einstein E640 head coupled with the Vagabond Mini Lithium battery. This would allow decent portability (over 400 full power flashes on one 3 lb. battery), serious flash power, wicked recycle time, sliding-scale power adjustments, and solid construct accessories… all at a more reasonable price point. I could afford two of these lights and a few accessories for the price of one Quantum.

The Paul C. Buff Einstein E640One smart lookin' light.

The Paul C. Buff Einstein E640
Hey baby, you’re one smart lookin’ light.

I’ve used the E640’s on about 6 shoots or so now and I must say I’m quite smitten. There is more power and intelligence in these lights than this novice knows what to do with yet. I haven’t really been able to give the lights a proper workout except for during one outdoor shoot where I required full power and 4 fps recycle times. These lights have two shooting modes: Color (slower recycle time – as in 1 fps vs. 4 – but extraordinarily accurate color and intensity between shots) or Action (stupid fast recycle time and still pretty accurate with color. Intensity consistency suffers here, however).

As I crouched on a dusty mountain trail while a mountain bike whizzed past at 30+mph my Einsteins were able to capture 4 fps at full power and on most runs 3/4 of the images were acceptably lit. Granted, you could have fried a pancake on the heads when we were done, but I’m impressed I was able to push them as hard as I did. I know my Canon EX580’s couldn’t have handled a fraction of the task.

As soon as I can manage I will be picking up a third Einstein to complete my set. 🙂

Darren Murphy of PUSH Industries, Loveland, CO catching some air

Darren Murphy of PUSH Industries, Loveland, CO catching some air



Chase Jarvis: LIVE

Survivorman Les Shroud via blog.ChaseJarvis.comIn case you aren’t already savvy to it, there’s a gaggle of live podcasts from photographer Chase Jarvis where he visits with innovative guest speakers and offers a wee bit o’ inspiration for his fellow creatives.

Today’s podcast @11am PST (or noon for my MST friends) features Survivorman Les Stroud. He’ll be sharing his thoughts on how to achieve a life you can be passionate about.

I think I’m in the mood for a little inspiration today. You can watch this and all the past videos via the link below so take a look.

Let’s hear what you think – did you get inspired?



Survivorman Les Shroud | image via