Bowens Explorer

During the summer my colleague Chris Reeve was commissioned to shoot some pictures for the new Bowen’s Explorer brochure. He had already shot some great images for the Bowens Freedom brochure, featuring the Gemini range. Having shot that at a railway museum using a train theme, Chris decided to shoot the Explorer brochure at an airfield using a plane, shooting pictures outside and some inside. Chris organised the shoot at Duxford Air Museum, near Cambridge.

Bowens ExplorerThe Explorer is a 1500 joule battery pack with a total of four sockets to run up to two Gemini heads and two QuadX heads. Adding two Gemini 750’s to the Explorer can increase the power output to 3000 joules. This power can be split between heads and sockets in a number of ways allowing great flexibility for the photographer, making it an ideal location tool. At just over 11kg and with and overall size of 27cmL x18cmW x 24cmH the Explorer is remarkably small and light for the output it can deliver. Other key features include digital display and programming, 1/10 th stop power control and an excellent flash duration of 1/2130 of a second at full power and 1/5700 at minimum power.

So armed with a couple of Explorer packs and some Gemini’s plus a lot of other equipment, Chris and his team set off for Duxford Air Museum. The light wasn’t great that day and at times it did drizzle, but as Chris said later, the subdued light gave a more interesting atmosphere than perhaps bright sunshine would have done. As you can see from the pictures, Chris wanted to get that 40’s - 50’s feel and used some wonderful clothing and make up to imitate the air hostess uniforms and fashion of the period.

By the time the models had changed Chris had already set up the lights in front of the plane, showing the propellers in the background. The first shot shows model Rachel beautifully framed between the props in a typical 50’s fashion pose. To light this shot, Chris used an Explorer with two heads on the model’s right side, one just in front of her with a Wafer 140 soft box and one just behind her with a wide angle reflector. To light the opposite side, another Explorer with one head and a wide angle reflector was used high up and angled down to fill in. In fact this lighting set up was used to take several shots, Chris only needing to make a few little tweaks here and there to get things right.

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Still outside the plane Chris set up this shot with great affect, using the architectural angles of the stairs and wing to frame the model. It wasn’t an easy shot to get right and it took some time to balance the light under the wing to the light on the stairway. Chris used both Explorers with wide angle reflectors on the heads to flood to whole subject with a natural light.

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With the model inside the plane relaxing with a drink, Chris set up two Bowen’s Gemini 250’s ‘bounced’ in front and behind her. While outside the plane his assistant held a brolly just behind the camera to reflect the light back into her face.

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Moving inside the plane to shoot, Chris found conditions a little cramped and had a few problems concealing the lights. These shots were taken using two Explorer heads, one on either side of the model with a Bowens Gemini 500 to backlight the subject. The Explorer heads were pointed away from the model and ‘bounced’ to create soft natural lighting.

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This next shot was taken with very similar lighting, but with the power turned up to ‘blow’ the cabin with light.

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As most photographers will tell you, working on location is never easy and things can always go a little wrong and never quite to plan. However using the Bowens Explorer and Gemini’s took a lot of the stress out of this shoot. Not having to worry about cables or sync leads, (Chris used the Bowens Pulsar to trigger) made the job a whole lot easier. Just being able to pick up a head and place it where it was needed, rather than working within the limitations of cables makes the Explorer battery pack worth its weight in gold!

Everything worked OK on the day there were no equipment problems at all and as Chris said, because of the small size of the packs and heads, he didn’t have to hire a van to move it all! If you already shoot location work with conventional mains lighting or if you’re considering buying equipment with that in mind, look at the Explorer. At around £1640 it represents great value for money, all the details are on the web site and as usual if you have any questions about the Explorer, or any other flash, just drop me an email.

Steve Aves

My thanks to Chris Reeve at ReeveBanks Photography and his team and also to Bowens.

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