Lighting Accessories (Part 1 of 2)

What's in your lighting kit? Do you travel with open face instruments or soft boxes or fresnels? Tungsten or quartz? HMI or fluorescent or LEDs? Everyone has their favorites. Unpack 10 travel kits and you'll find 10 different combinations of lights.

But down at the bottom of the bag — beneath the luminaires, lamps, and line cords — experienced videographers all pack an identical set of tiny gadgets and accessories. This month's Sharpshooters Tips contains the first half of a two-part list of "Shoot Savers"; critical extras that belong in every location lighting kit

  • • Gaffers tape. Top of the list because it's indispensible, but you needn't pack an entire roll. Two or three feet wound around a business card gives you enough to solve most minor cable and clothing challenges.
  • • Clothespins. Secure gels to barndoors and keep fabric draped properly with these low-tech devices. Also good for wedging doors open and clipping lightweight cables to drop ceilings.
  • • Spare lamps. Carry at least one for each fixture. Save space by discarding the manufacturers' boxes and pack them all into a small Tupperware container.
  • • A black Sharpie. Providing the "write" stuff when it comes to making your mark, these indelible markers are available in a variety of sizes, colors, and tips.
  • • 3-way power taps. More dependable than power strips, these socket-splitters take almost no room in your kit and, since they lack internal switches and circuit breakers, won't accidentally stop a shoot when someone kicks one.
  • • Circuit tester. Troubleshoot dead outlets, confirm proper polarity and verify ground connections to prevent a shocking surprise from spoiling the shoot.
  • • Jumbo Metal binder clips. Clip up where clothespins leave off. Secure foam-core to gobo arms with these strong-jawed clamps. Good for attaching tough-spun to barn doors too, but don't burn your fingers; metal clips transfer heat a lot better than clothespins.
  • • Stage cord. A few three-foot lengths of this strong black line are great for tying up loose ends, securing tarps and rain covers, and attaching weights to lightstands.

We'll complete this list of space-saving Shoot Savers in next month's Sharpshooters Tips.