This is the story behind our custom-built golf cart photo light stand that we call Lightning McQueen.
For many years, we were using as many as three Canon Speedlites on a single light stand to help us light our wedding photos and portraits while on location. While these regular strobes were very portable, they were not very powerful. That’s why we had to use up to three of them at a time on just one light stand. Oftentimes times we had three more of them on a second light stand too!
They also really weren’t built to handle all that heavy use that we gave them week-in and week-out. We’ve literally burned out more than a dozen of them in just a couple of years!
Scotty, We Need More Power!
Back around mid-2015, much more powerful battery-powered compact strobe units had become available. And we took advantage and became fully invested in a complete system to take advantage of all that portable power. Just one of these new “Super Speedlites” is more powerful than four of the Canon Speedlites we were using before!
And to make it even more portable, I can put it all on wheels!
Meet “Lightning McQueen!” Our custom-designed photo light stand!
We Love Disney/Pixar
One of my favorite Pixar friends is Lighting McQueen. So when it came time to name our lighting contraption it was relatively easy for me to choose Lighting McQueen.
Lightning is a combination of a very high-powered speedlite (the lightning part) and a carryall on wheels. While not nearly as fast as the real Lightning McQueen, it really helps speed up getting around with lots of gear on location! Ka-chow!
We put Lighting McQueen into service for the first time at Kevin & Megan’s pretty wedding reception at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen, MN. It takes less than 5 minutes to put Lightning McQueen together, and fully load it with photography gear and then we’re on our way.
Above is a behind-the-scenes wedding showing “Lighting McQueen” in action at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The image we created with it is shown below.
In light wind conditions, it can sport one of our GoMo 36″ or 48″ Octa Softboxes to help us create even more flattering lighting for our wedding photography & portrait clients.
Not Just For Wedding Photography
We’ve been using “Lighting McQueen” as often as we can for not only wedding photos but also for creating nice lighting for engagement portraits, kids’ photos, senior pictures, pet portraits, and family portrait photography! Below is a Stillwater engagement portrait of Anne & Noah standing up on a hill with Lightning McQueen’s light stand extended all the way to 13 feet.
We use Lighting McQueen extensively in our Portrait Park as well. Lightning doesn’t do stairs particularly well, so places like Minnehaha Falls (at the bottom) are probably a no-go. But in many other photography locations, Lightning has worked like a charm.
I’ve employed Lightning McQueen on dozens of occasions in very hilly Stillwater, MN for senior photos, family portraits, and engagement portrait sessions. Hauling all my gear on wheels is wonderful in that hilly environment!
Here’s the parts list I used to create “Lighting McQueen”:
- (1) TourTrek One Click 360 Golf Cart
- Impact Titling Boom Pivot Clamps (2)
- Impact Super Clamps with Ratchet Handle (2)
- (1) 13’ Impact Air-Cushioned Heavy-Duty Light Stand
- (2) 24” Heavy Duty Bungee Cords
- 36” Aluminum Rod cut into 2 pieces with special “holding groves” added
This Thing Can Really Haul!
“Lighting McQueen” can also transport a second light stand, a tripod, reflectors, a couple of softboxes, our Tamrac 614 Camera Bag with one or two Canon R5 cameras and several lenses, two high-powered strobe units, a high school senior’s clothes on hangers (or a brides bag), and Joannie’s purse too! Whew, lots a lot of stuff!
Our state-of-the-art mobile lighting system will be used exclusively on “Lighting McQueen” and can consist of any, or all, of the following when needed:
- (2) MoLight X1-C transmitters
- (2) MoLight AD360II-C Super Flashes
- MoLight V860II-C Speedlight
- One or two FP Flashpoint Blast Pack BR-960 Lithium Batteries
- GoMo 48″ Octa Softbox with grid
- GoMo 36″ Octa Softbox with grid
- Bowens S Adapter (2)
- Q Clip Clamps (2)
- Power Cords, with “Y” Power Adapters (2)
“Lightning McQueen” has been in full use now for many wedding and portrait seasons. We’re amazed at the images we can create because we have the ability to take such powerful strobe lights to our wedding & portrait locations that we couldn’t easily do before. – M&J