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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Strobist lighting thread 2010
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01/20/2010 12:48:25 PM · #1
Over the last several months I have become intrigued by “strobist” style lighting with my shoe mount flashes. Each attempt has been a learning experience for me and I’d like to invite any of those DPC’rs who are interested to join me in a learning thread for strobist style or off-camera lighting. Anyone can participate, even if they don’t have the ability to light off camera. Comments, critiques, and sharing of techniques will greatly enhance the learning opportunities for all participants.

There are some great resources on the web, in particular the strobist site, www.strobist.blogspot.com. Be warned, you may kill hours of time upon visiting the strobist site.

My personal goals for learning this lighting technique are as follows:
1. Supplement existing light to create more pleasing portraits.
2. Create drama(light) in my photos
3. Get big results from small lights(borrowed from Joe McNally??)

The possibilities are endless…

A couple of other threads...

DPC Strobist Group
Hopper's lighting setup thread
Smurfguys lighting equipment thread
Nusbaum's Lighting Modifer post

Strobist Resources
www.flashzebra.com Good source for sync cords, etc.
www.mpex.com
Light Modifiers website

Message edited by author 2010-06-19 10:31:54.
01/20/2010 12:51:04 PM · #2
I’d like to gauge the interest in this project; if interested, please post in this thread and I will add you to the list. No pressure if you sign up, but hopefully you will be motivated to participate, either by posting your pictures, discussing techniques, or offering comments on images.

I will keep the front page of this thread updated with links, participants, and other information that seems important to warrant front page billing.

Note: I won’t necessarily limit participation to hot shoe flashes. (I periodically use an AB400 if power is available.)

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Message edited by author 2010-06-19 10:29:46.
01/20/2010 12:58:05 PM · #3
count me in, Mark

(and a small opening contribution):

This website //flashzebra.com/ sell tons of useful equipment which you may need. For example, the canon off camera shoe cord is about 3 feet long .... this website has one that's 16 feet long for about $50. For comparison, the Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter is $220. So it's a great way to get the flash off the camera and still be able to use ETTL automatic exposure.

Message edited by author 2010-01-20 12:58:11.
01/20/2010 12:58:56 PM · #4
I'm interested
01/20/2010 01:16:30 PM · #5
I am in....
01/20/2010 01:29:45 PM · #6
Let me in
01/20/2010 01:53:05 PM · #7
This youtube video is a stunning example of what can be done with just a couple speedlights. If you had shown me just the images, I would have bet the farm he was lighting the scene with a monster softbox and monolights as strong as the sun with generators.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=URYVtbDUrDI

(someone will say it, so I'll say it first ... it helps to have a model that looks like that :)
01/20/2010 02:16:39 PM · #8
Count me in!
01/20/2010 02:49:00 PM · #9
Mmm, strobist. Definitely count me in.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - lighting is the absolute best bang for your buck in improving your photos via equipment.

My past lighting equipment thread is here.

I currently have three flashes (two Nikon SB-26's and an SB-28). Why Nikon? Because I'm going cheap (TTL Canon flashes are $300+). I started with the Strobist-touted Vivitar 285's and they:
- had inconsistent output for repeated flashes
- only variable power to 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, and 1
- broke

The Nikons:
- are an older generation, available cheap used (~$125) and very reliable
- give very consistent results
- are variable down to 1/64 (the SB-28 in 1/3-stop increments)
- the 26's have a built-in optical slave

Triggering:
As for triggers, I've had problems with all cheap wireless triggers I've tried (Cactus V2s and ebay - funny, the ebay triggers work better) in the area of batteries, misfires, and sync speed slowing way down (in the 1/100 and slower range).

My most reliable triggering mechanism at present (as I'm not willing to pay $200/unit for Pocket Wizards) is to use the SB-28 on-camera and let the SB-26's trigger optically. I achieve sync speeds of 1/160 - 1/200 with my 5DII in this setup.

Lighting techniques:

I'm still very beginner-ish, so my go-to technique is a simple one-umbrella setup. This is a simple but effective technique that I've used many times:
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Occasionally I like the look of just nuking the environment with a powerful bounce flash. This sometimes expands your editing possibilities:
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My goal for the year would be to expand and become more comfortable using other techniques.

I've tried specular highlighting once (the white bounce off the wall):
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Rim and object lighting:
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But not a lot of balancing with ambient. I'd also like to expand my creativity in setting and subject. I've always loved texture-filled still life and food photography and would like to play in those areas.

Cheers!

Message edited by author 2010-01-21 16:22:06.
01/20/2010 03:08:02 PM · #10
I would like to contribute, if I can?
01/20/2010 03:11:12 PM · #11
Please count me in and let me know how I can contribute. A lot of my work over the last couple of year has been done strobist style and I just invested in a pair of new pocketwizard triggers. I could also do a little comparison with the monoblock strobe lights I use in the studio.
01/20/2010 03:18:23 PM · #12
Originally posted by Nusbaum:

Please count me in and let me know how I can contribute. A lot of my work over the last couple of year has been done strobist style and I just invested in a pair of new pocketwizard triggers. I could also do a little comparison with the monoblock strobe lights I use in the studio.

That would be great! Another comparison you could perform is the fastest sync speeds (i.e. without black banding) you can get on your 5DII with a flash directly mounted, an optical slave (if you have one), and the flash over pocket wizard.
01/20/2010 03:41:07 PM · #13
I'll jump in with a question:

I've never used anything but umbrellas. Seems to me that most pros (term used lightly) use softboxes and some like to use a beauty dish. A softbox doesn't have as much "light spill" as an umbrella. But if you get far enough away from your background, the spill won't be too much of a problem. Is this correct? Also, would I most likely have to grid the softbox in order to really control light direction. Is there any other benefit to a softbox?

I'd hate to drop $120 on a softbox and see very little (if any) difference in the end result.

David (Nusbaum), I'm sure you've used both ... any thoughts?
01/20/2010 04:59:08 PM · #14
Originally posted by hopper:

I'll jump in with a question:

I've never used anything but umbrellas. Seems to me that most pros (term used lightly) use softboxes and some like to use a beauty dish. A softbox doesn't have as much "light spill" as an umbrella. But if you get far enough away from your background, the spill won't be too much of a problem. Is this correct? Also, would I most likely have to grid the softbox in order to really control light direction. Is there any other benefit to a softbox?

I'd hate to drop $120 on a softbox and see very little (if any) difference in the end result.

David (Nusbaum), I'm sure you've used both ... any thoughts?

Thoughts or an essay....

I'll admit right up front that I am a huge fan of a shoot through umbrella when working outside. I like that there is a bit more punch (contrast) than from a bounce umbrella or softbox and the falloff on the edges blends very nicely with existing light. They are inexpensive, so I can carry three different sizes and get more variety in my light.

Now fire that same shoot through umbrella indoors and it's a complete disaster. The spill out the back will blanket the environment with more light and things I wanted dark suddenly aren't so dark. A bounce umbrella helps with the spill, but the punch is gone leaving a wash of slightly icky light that covers the subject in a safe, but uninteresting, way. This is where I usually think that a softbox is going to be better and drop a couple hundred dollars on one. Add a grid and you get a nice 40 degree light source with decent contrast and no spill. But, the light from a softbox isn't like window light, as some might suggest, and I don't think it's as interesting as the humble shoot through umbrella (used out doors). In fact I'm stuck on a 6 month cycle where I buy a softbox because nothing else works as well and then I sell it off because I still don't really like the light.

I've got a beauty dish as well... really cool light in some cases but also very unforgiving. I don't think I have the hang of it yet, but I keep trying.

Having knocked the typical lights, I'm going toss out a couple of ideas. I've seen great results from umbrella like reflectors where the light is bounced and then passes through a diffusion layer. Profoto and Elinchrom makes light modifiers like this and, as expected, they are hugely expensive. But, Alien Bees has a new parabolic reflector that may be an alternative and there is also the photek softlighter.

I apologize for rambling on. I think the point I wanted to make was not to assume that a softbox would be THE tool for pros. A lot of people use them very affectively and some people are very successful without them.

If anybody is interested, and my daughter is willing, I could set up a session to show the light produced by a small collection modifiers I have on hand. (Shoot-through umbrella, Bounce umbrella, Medium size Octabox w/grid, Beauty dish, Photek Softlighter and Westcott Halo) Maybe just a single light setup in the studio with a gray seamless backdrop.

Message edited by author 2010-01-20 17:02:20.
01/20/2010 05:06:58 PM · #15
[quote]...If anybody is interested, and my daughter is willing, I could set up a session to show the light produced by a small collection modifiers I have on hand. (Shoot-through umbrella, Bounce umbrella, Medium size Octabox w/grid, Beauty dish, Photek Softlighter and Westcott Halo) Maybe just a single light setup in the studio with a gray seamless backdrop. [/quote]

I would be interested. Lets have a look see!

Message edited by author 2010-01-20 17:07:38.
01/20/2010 05:07:43 PM · #16
This is great, I am watching this thread and looks like it will be fun all around...

Link to something I cam across from Strobist.com, he has some nice and simple lighting videos.
ProPhotolife Videos

Talks about the question above
Softbox / Umbrella
01/20/2010 05:12:49 PM · #17
Originally posted by Nusbaum:

If anybody is interested, and my daughter is willing, I could set up a session to show the light produced by a small collection modifiers I have on hand. (Shoot-through umbrella, Bounce umbrella, Medium size Octabox w/grid, Beauty dish, Photek Softlighter and Westcott Halo) Maybe just a single light setup in the studio with a gray seamless backdrop.

I'm interested
01/20/2010 05:33:50 PM · #18
great stuff Nusbaum ... just the type of rambling i was looking for

... and yes, bribe your daughter, make it happen :)
01/20/2010 07:17:35 PM · #19
I'm interested and will keep an eye on this thread/join in when I'm able. I've been involved with the Strobist style of lighting for a couple of years now. I participated in the old Stobist thread on here back when it was running, and I've actually setup the NE DPC Strobists GTG for February, where we're going to spend a whole day doing lighting.

I'm on my second flash kit now; the first was Nikon SB-25s, triggered by a modified Cactus system. Worked great and I used it on a lot of gigs. But I wanted the ability to control the output/ratios from the camera, instead of having to run across the room. So when I got my 7D, I sold off the Nikon Speedlights and replaced them with Canon Speedlites.
01/20/2010 07:19:26 PM · #20
Originally posted by hopper:

great stuff Nusbaum ... just the type of rambling i was looking for

... and yes, bribe your daughter, make it happen :)

I am very interested as well!
01/20/2010 07:23:41 PM · #21
Originally posted by LVicari:

Originally posted by nusbaum:

...If anybody is interested, and my daughter is willing, I could set up a session to show the light produced by a small collection modifiers I have on hand. (Shoot-through umbrella, Bounce umbrella, Medium size Octabox w/grid, Beauty dish, Photek Softlighter and Westcott Halo) Maybe just a single light setup in the studio with a gray seamless backdrop.


I would be interested. Lets have a look see!


I would also love to see the results of this!
01/20/2010 07:51:04 PM · #22
Great response everyone! I plan on prodding the discussion along when it slows down and posting my lighting episodes as they come, especially if i've used a technique that is new to me or one that I think may be of interest. I'll throw all the interested parties into the first page posting and then off we go. Thanks to those of you who are already posting some really good info.
01/21/2010 12:43:19 PM · #23
I'd like to keep watch on this thread, but I don't think I have time to play.

Will post something if I get the time.
01/21/2010 01:19:00 PM · #24
I'm very interested in learning more about using strobes. I've played around a couple of times and gotten great results. However, I know there is so much yet to learn.
01/21/2010 02:39:03 PM · #25
I'm SO in...

I have a decent studio setup that I share with my partners and it gets dusty way too often.

It's time to get my strobist juices flowing again and this is already turning out to be a great thread. Looking forward to it...
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