Bowens’ Esprit Gemini Flash System; In The Studio, And On The Go

The Travel-Pak battery is a take-anywhere power source that comes with a handy carrying handle and case with shoulder strap. Note the two outlets; both 500 ws heads or one at a time can be used.

The Gemini kit is composed of two flash heads (monoblocs), two heavy-duty 9-foot stands, two umbrella reflectors, two umbrellas, all cords, bulbs, and cables, as well as a strong duffle bag-like carrying case. The optional Travel-Pak battery was also utilized. The supplied stands come with an "L" bracket that allows you to mount the heads in vertical or horizontal positions. Once mounted you can choose from either AC or battery power; be sure to set the appropriate switch on the back and avoid connecting both at the same time. Once you do, the green "go" light comes on quickly and you're ready to shoot.

In The Field

For testing photographer John Schaub worked on location with model Caitlin McTiernan. He used a single head as a direct flash in a snowy field, placing an insulating cover on the ground. The Travel-Pak worked flawlessly for the full shooting session, powering up quickly between takes and setups.
All Photos © 2006, John Schaub, All Rights Reserved

The heads' output is variable over five full f/stops, from full to 1/32 power, with 1/3 EV steps in between. The accompanying modeling lamp must be manually set to match the flash output, which is easily done by matching numbers on the dials. If you need an audible signal that the flash has built up full power you can set the sound switch to "on," or turn it off if desired. When you hit the flash you can have the modeling lamp dim out or stay on all the time.

You can dial in up to five power ratio stops in 1/3 EV intervals by simply turning the Power dial. The modeling lamp can be coordinated, made brighter or turned off, if desired. This power ratio range gives you a great amount of control over the output, especially when using the two lights as key and fill.

In The Studio

In the studio John Schaub created sets for shots of vintage Fire-King dinnerware, using flags and skim lighting to create the quiet glow in and through the products. With the Bowens Gemini set low and angled to shoot light across the tabletop, one light created all the texture and lighting angles desired for this still life. Flags, color reflectors, and a snoot were all combined in the setup.

There are three ways to trigger the flash. If you want to test the flash or use multiple pops you can work with the Open Flash button. You can also use a standard 1/4" jack attached to the socket on the rear of the unit. If you want to fire just one flash you can go straight in, or use a "Y" connector for both heads. This is where you can also plug in an infrared receiver or similar wireless triggering device. One accessory you might consider is the Bowens Pulsar Radio Trigger, which mounts in your camera hot shoe and can be used, says Bowens, for popping the flash up to 100 meters away! This is a radio transmitter so you can shoot through walls and around corners. It offers four individual channels and what is known as six studio selectors, each with a different ID for different flash units. Bowens tells us that the low-voltage operation of the unit makes it ideal for use with digital SLRs.