Leaning heavily on the Elinchrom Ranger Pack this month. If it's not the need for power it's the need for enough power and fast recycling. Over and over again.

I think it's funny how some photographers use the same exact gear for everything they do while others use different gear all the time. I count myself in the second camp and I'm starting to see a pattern in my use of lights. It starts when a client decides they need to do photographs outside with people. They want the people well lit and they want the lighting on the people to blend with the direct sunlight falling on everything else. 

We bring out scrims or flags to take the direct sun off the subjects and then use a powerful flash in a nice softbox or umbrella to put more controlled and flattering light back on the subject. And since we need power without squinting and blinking we tend to use electronic flash. But the simple truth of Murphy's law is
that the nearest outlet for that big flash pack will be just a few dozen feet further away, outdoors, that the longest extension cord you have.  Or there will be no A/C power anywhere in sight.

That's when we bring out our Elinchrom Ranger power pack and its two companion heads. We can put 1100 watt seconds on a subject about 250 times in a row before we need to recharge the internal lead/acid battery or change the battery out for our back-up battery. With both batteries in tow we've got the potential to do over 500 full power, sun matching flashes in big soft boxes or big umbrellas before we need to call it quits. And if we work that light in close and drop the power down to a bit less than half, along with a slower recycle setting, we can knock out thousands and thousands of sun challenging flashes out in the middle of nowhere. 

So, once the exterior projects start up in Spring our minds wrap themselves around the Ranger pack until every project looks like a candidate for the Ranger pack treatment. Interior, exterior, whatever. It doesn't hurt that the well designed system puts out beautiful quality lighting that's amazingly consistent either. 

Eventually we'll get side tracked by a hybrid video/still photo assignment and that will lead me away from the flash and on to something in the tungsten, fluorescent, LED zone and the Elinchrom Ranger system will end up back in its case waiting for the next CEO portrait with the Austin skyline in the background. 

It's nice to have choices.

60 inch white/black umbrella on location.

Ranger RX AS at low power for almost endless flashes and fast recycle. 

And what project photographing people for advertising would be complete without
the make up person?


Doug said...

Been using 2 Ranger packs for years. Just updated the battery in one of them with this hack - http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1256860

Saves you 5lbs and gets you about an additional 80 pops at full power. Cheap too!

Kirk Tuck said...

Thanks Doug. Good find. I'll look into it.

Anonymous said...

I have 2 Elinchrom Quadras with 1 head each, they work great, but limited to the 400 WS of power. I use the Skyport triggers to adjust power. I have a chance to pickup a used Ranger RX Speed AS pack with 1 head.

My questions are:
1. How many Ranger RX Speed AS packs do you have? (I think one with 2 heads)

2. Do you usually shoot with both heads attached, using both A and B plugs? Using one for the main light and the other as fill, or just A or B depending on the power you need? (A = 66% power B = 33% power on the AS packs)

3. If you only have one pack, could you ever see yourself having a second pack to drive a second head at more than the 33% you get when attached to the B plug, or in your experience one Ranger RX AS is enough? (The B plug is 5.7 WS to 366 WS about the same as my Ranger Quadra)

Thanks for your blog, long time reader, but I never asked a question before.


Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Dave, I have one pack with two heads. In the studio (when I use it instead of monolights) I generally use the "A" plug for the main light and the "B" plug for a grid spotted background light to shoot portraits. Outside I generally just use the "A" plug and no head in the "B" plug. I drag the extra head around to have a back up. I'm generally using the Ranger RX AS as a "one light" source for exterior portraits with a big soft box. Generally at 1/2 power in order to get a faster recycle time. I like the look of the lights.

I probably wouldn't get a second pack unless I started doing a lot more and different stuff outside. Like car photography or stuff with more moving parts.

Thanks for asking!!!