My portable DIY studio for Midburn

In 2011, Eric Schwabel did an amazing portrait project in Burning Man, walking around in a portable Profoto setup.

This really blew me away and for years i wanted to be able to do something similar, as Burning Man is such an amazing fertile ground for every portrait photog.
Give me a place with 75,000 uniquely interesting photo subjects and my mind is ready to blow.   

4 months ago I joined a camp in our local version of BM, a.k.a. Midburn (burning in the desert) and knew that I only wanted to go if I could make my own version of what Eric had done. 

As renting gear in Israel is extremely limited, I had to find a creative solution with my personal gear - my Elinchrom’s elb400 & Quadra Ranger packs, together with HS flash heads.

My mission was to think of a single contraption that will hold all the power, be able to mount the flashes and strip boxes connected to it, be spread wide enough so the lighting was efficient and beautiful and also to hold a hydration system of some sort without leaking all over the gear. 

Together with my friend Ben Saar, a very capable engineer in spirit, we started looking for ideas on how to build something like this ourselves and with as little money as possible. 

We knew that we needed a sturdy aluminium frame to hold the attached flashes and a good enough bag to put the power units in to protect them from dust. 

I started looking into all sorts of duffle bags, travel bags, even baby carrying backpacks because of their frame. Nothing was giving me what i needed so I started looking closer to home, to check if I was missing something 

I bought a new camera bag not too long before, and after buying it, I used my old Lowpro bag as a carrying case for the Elinchrom portable gear as it was comfortable and fairly weather sealed. 

Ben and I measured the bag and saw that we can use the bag’s side pockets as strong foundations for the aluminum frame rods to sit in. 

We needed something to hold and mount the flashes to the rig so I got myself Manfrotto’s magic arms with their heavy duty but not so heavy clamps (Thanks to ABS Photo). 

Luckily the bag had also a comfortable place for a hydration system that fitted in perfectly. 

Elinchrom’s gear is already pretty resistant to harsh weather, but this setup ended up safe for my gear (although I found out that dust gets anywhere!), comfortable (I found myself fighting winds a lot but solved it by walking sideways like a crab), that also gave more than enough power to overpower the harsh sun of the desert and produce beautiful lighting with the Rotalux strips. The new Elinchrom transmitter was working perfectly and it was so comfortable changing power settings with it, without the need to reach to the packs inside the bag. 
It was lightweight enough to walk around for long periods of time and even interesting to see.
Many people came over towards me as I was easy to spot from afar and the attention helped me get fun and relaxed portraits. 

And finally, some portraits. All shot at around f11, 1/200, ISO 100. The packs lasted superbly shooting at around half power. 

Best thing yet… they still work perfectly :).

Thank you for reading, please let me know if you have any questions. 

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