Challenge: Design a BETTER motorcycle-friendly travel rig. Go!

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by JamieW, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. JamieW

    JamieW Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 25, 2013
    It's getting close to Spring. Almost time to take a break from doing studio portraits and shoot what really inspires me... motorcycles and travel. :)

    Here's my challenge for you guys. It's kind of a fork of the Cheetah CL-360 thread as I didn't want to hijack that one.

    This is my bike. Not this one exactly, that's not me. I prefer to ride quads when I'm on fishing piers, but that's just me. :)


    I'll be using this bike to travel and photograph other bikers and their rides. I want to get a full 2 light travel rig on my bike. It must include:

    2 light stands, two lights, brackets, battery packs, diffusers, E-M1, 12-40, 40-150 2.8, 7-14 2.8 and 42 1.2 lenses (I'm aware some of these lenses aren't available yet. A bit of thinking ahead here), and clothes.

    Here are the vital stats:

    Under the seat is a rather cavernous storage compartment by motorcycle standards. It's roughly 24" long x 16" wide x 9" deep, deeper in some parts.

    You can also add a top case on the back. I don't own one yet, but here's an example. They come in various sizes, some larger than the under seat dimensions I listed above.


    In addition to that, I have decent sized waterproof travel bag that I strap to the pillion behind me for my clothes and miscellaneous items, and I have the option (though I'd prefer not to) of also wearing a backpack.

    I'm willing to buy the rear top case for the bike.

    This year I will be traveling with the following: E-M1, 45 1.8, 12-40, 75 1.8. I also have an FL-600R, FL-300R, and a MeFoto A1350 Tripod. I'll probably leave the vertical grip at home to save space, and I'm thinking about leaving the FL-600/300 as well and getting two Cheetah CL-360's.

    The plan:

    Under the seat:

    1x MeFoto A1350 Tripod (I already own this, it fits nicely with tons of room left over)
    2x diffusers (of unknown type, probably silver umbrellas)
    2x Brackets
    Preferably all in a nylon bag I can sling over my shoulder when I reach my destination.

    In the TopCase:

    Small backpack including lighting (2x CL-360's, batteries, and remotes) and camera gear, room for my helmet and gloves when I park.

    Rear Pillion:

    Travel bag with clothes, tablet, etc.

    In theory I'd arrive at my destination, check into a hotel, drop off the Pillion bag, and go on about my business. When I arrive at a shoot, I take my backpack out of the top case and insert my helmet and gloves, and remove my other bag from under the seat and store my jacket. Everything locks up and I get to work.

    The one hole in all of this is the diffusers. I'd love to use some Elinchrom Maxi Lite (fireball) reflectors, but I don't see how it would work out. I'm hoping to find some type of folding reflector / umbrella / softbox that fills that niche that I can travel with. I'm also a bit concerned about the stands being fairly easy to blow over, especially with an umbrella on there, but something like a c-stand isn't really an option. Neither are sand bags, so I have to go with what will fit. I'm open to ideas here.

    The tripod / camera / lenses are set in stone, but I'm to suggestions for the light stands, lighting equipment and diffusers. How would you guys improve on this setup?
  2. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    No suggestions, but I'm very interested in everyone else's suggestions.

    Not my ride, but Burgmans/Burgmen rock.
  3. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    Oh, how tall do your light stands need to be? What umbrella sizes? What about softboxes?
  4. JamieW

    JamieW Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 25, 2013
    As for sizes, I like shooting with massive diffusers, so that's not going to work. There will be a bit of trial and error in this for me. If I find myself needing large diffusers / large stands, I'll take the Jeep and an appropriate setup, but I don't think for most work a large light stand will be necessary, and if I can figure it out I may even forego softboxes / umbrellas for a set of Maxi Lites but I don't really know about traveling with those yet. Baby steps.

    I'm picturing a setup like the light on the left, x2.


    I realize that's probably a softlighter or a PLM, but I'll probably take something like this: or This looks rather bulky though and requires a speedring adapter which would take up even more space. I'd need to do a bit of experimenting with that.

    I don't want to get tooo nuts. A good deal of my shots will be natural light.
  5. JamieW

    JamieW Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 25, 2013
    As I think about this more, I think at least one softbox is going to be required. When I picture this in my head, I'm picturing larger scenes with interesting backgrounds, the bike and rider together, maybe groups of bikes and riders together.

    The reality of it is I'll probably be getting quite a few close up shots of the riders and their bikes, and I don't want to reflect a round light source off of the bike. I don't think it would look right. Straight lines would make for better lighting so it can bend with the contours of the bike properly.

    More research is required. :)
  6. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    You could get around the sand bag issue with a couple of empty bags you fill fill stones etc at the scene, you could even use thicker carrier bags for this.
  7. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Ever thought of a bike trailer? how about a sidecar? If those are out I would suggest a top box and side boxes. I would think the square box style would work best for your needs. You know like the ones on BMW adventure bikes{see picture below}. They might look a bit odd on a Burgman and may not be easy to fit but should give the space you need.

  8. JamieW

    JamieW Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 25, 2013
    Thinking outside the box. I like it!

    I love side bags. I've had them on all of my bikes so far, but I don't think I want to put any on the Burgman. It takes up enough room in my 1 car garage already, which is also my woodshop. I should be able to get by with the under seat storage and the top case. I'll start there at least and see how it goes.

    I've been refining the list of gear a bit. I've decided if I need a large lighting rig for the job, I'll take the Jeep. For most jobs I'll be using natural light. If I need a light at all, one should do it. So that's 1 light / stand / diffuser, and I may even be able to get it all under the seat with the camera bag.

    Really all that's left to decide on at this point is the softbox / diffuser. It will probably be a few weeks before I get a chance to order the CL-360. I'll follow up later once I get rolling (no pun intended).
  9. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    Real Name:
    just noticed this thread :)

    if you are going to bring the cheetah 360 that 19 inch beauty dish setup that goes on with no bracket could be handy can have a bare more open feel using the reflector thingy ? myself I did not like that I just like it with a single layer of diffuser :) or the grid but it also comes with a second diffuser sock to ? so lots of options on pack size ? not sure but small maybe 3 soda cans stacked end on end but a bit more squishy :)
    can't find it now ? maybe Ed quit but it was like this

    no idea on those stands with spikes ? otherwise get some quality tent stakes and use that to stabilize :) again don't know those stands at all :)

    2 small or even 1 folding umbrella could be handy ? larger light shoot through etc.. tiny to pack ?

    those joby gorilla pods are kinda cool put a light on them and wrap around something ? I use mine on DJ light stands sometimes to support speed lights

    another thought also is the new cheetah 850 lights ? smaller no external battery but smaller for sure and simple modifier small apollo or something