Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Always Carry Backup Gear!!

Jinbei HD 600 Strobe

Recently I had a food shoot for a regular client Centuno in Highgate, London. I woke up at 4.40am, showered and had my breakfast by 5.00am. My pre-arranged taxi to take me to Runcorn train station collected me at 5.30am which gave me ample time to make last minute checks and get all my kit together to make it to the station (I always like to give myself more time than what I need when making long train journeys as you never know what can crop up). I also like to travel by train for long distance jobs like this to allow me time to edit during the journey home - something which I could never do if I drove to the shoot.

My train had a slight delay but nothing major. I got down to London early for my shoot so stuck around in Euston station and finished a little bit of work before making my way via the tube to Highgate. I eventually got to Centuno on time at 10am and started setting up for the food shoot. Centuno is a lovely little Italian with delicious wood-fired pizza and tasty pasta dishes situated on Hampstead Lane in Highgate. They are operated by the same guys that own Wildwood restaurants and Dim T both of which I also regurlarly shoot for.

I always carry backups of most items of my kit in the event that anything should go wrong with an item I would be able to carry on shooting. On food shoots I carry the following items:
  • Sony A7R
  • Sony A77II
  • Sony Zeiss 24-70mm f2.8 (A-mount)
  • Tamron 90mm f2.8 Macro (A-mount)
  • Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 FE
  • Samyang AF 50mm f1.4 FE
  • Sony LA-EA4 (A-mount to E-mount adapter)
  • 1x Jinbei HD600
  • 1x Pixapro Lumi200
  • 2x lightstands
  • 120cm Pixapro easy-open octobox
  • 2x Yongnuo YN560IV
  • Millions of batteries
  • Lots of SD cards
  • Laptop
  • 2x Lacie Rugged hard drives
With this selection of kit if one camera body failed then I'd have a backup, if one of the lenses stopped working then I could have a similar solution (maybe not the exact same focal length but not far off), enough spare batteries and SD cards so that if something went wrong with them then I could just swap them out. I also always carry two hard drives to backup the RAW images on my train journey home.

Broken Bowens S mount ring
Unfortunately on this shoot a backup was required. I had pretty much just finished setting up for the shoot. I had my Zeiss 24-70mm f2.8 mounted on my Sony A77II and my Samyang AF 50mm f1.4 FE mounted on my A7R with the Tamron macro, LA-EA4 adapter and Samyang AF 35mm on standby. My Jinbei HD600 was mounted on the lightstand with my huge Pixapro octobox attached and I was just awaiting the first dish to come out when I accidently knocked the light and it fell. It just seemed to happen in slow motion but I simply didn't do enough to stop it from falling over as I thought it would be cushioned by the massive octobox. I was right, the fall was cushioned by the octobox but the Bowens S mount ring was damaged so that I could no longer mount any type of light modifier. Luckily without any fuss I just switched to the spare Pixapro strobe that I also carried in my kit. The only downside with this Pixapro strobe is that it needs to be plugged in to the mains to operate whereas the Jinbei is battery powered so can be fired anywhere. Not much of an issue on this shoot though as I only needed it to add a little bit of soft light into the images and where I had set up there was a mains outlet.

The moral of this story is to definitely carry backups of your gear! I was very lucky that I didn't learn the hard way.

Here's some of my images from the shoot at Centuno

I contacted Golden Shell (the manufacturers of Jinbei products) in China, was told that they did have a replacement part and it would be free to me. I just needed to pay the $22 shipping which was fine. The part took around 7 days to arrive direct from China and I'm pleased to say that it fits perfectly. Hats off to Golden Shell for sourcing the part for me despite the strobe being a discontinued model.

Thanks for reading. Take a look at my other articles from this blog.

Check out Centuno in Highgate and take a look at their Instagram for more from this shoot.

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