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Strobe on a Stick

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by BigPixel, Aug 4, 2007.

  1. BigPixel

    BigPixel Guest

    Here's a test shot I made with one SB800 mounted on a monopod, a Strobist approach. Saw a video on the site. You attach a strobe to a monopod (cord or transmitter) and that allows you at least a 3-4 foot range to position it anywhere. You shoot at 1/8 to 1/4 power manual mode, strobe set to 50mm, camera set to manual at its highest sync speed. I found it quite intuitive if not a little heavy. I might add a counter weight to the monopod next time to ballance the weight.

    In the Strobist way (Cripes this sounds so Catholic) I metered the BG and then closed the aperture two stops, shutter at the max sync speed which in my case is 1/180. Here the strobe was image right about 3 feet.

    This was brutal mid day light. An available light shot would have had Lowell looking dark and murky in the shadows under the trees unless you based exposure on him which would have ruined the ambient bg light. A TTL shot might have been acceptable but would be rather unimpressively flat as there would have been an averaging of bg to subject with respect to light.

    This may be old hat to professionals but its all new to me.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2007
  2. Very nice!! Looks like I have something else to try!!

  3. Nice, but I'm trying to figure out the geometry for this technique. Are you sure the strobe wasn't at frame left? If not, I guess you were holding the camera with your right hand, so was the monopod would have been in your left hand and held across your body???
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2007
  4. Very nice picture, Mike. I will need to practice more about the metering technique in order to get more comfortable with using flash during harsh daylight.

    I also like the contrast between the subject and the background.
  5. Yes Mike you have broken the code. Underexpose the background and light the subject with the flash. Fun isn't it.
  6. Ray C.

    Ray C.

    Nov 7, 2005
    The shadows indicate the flash was slightly to the camera's right and a little higher...Look at the shadows from the shirt wrinkles on his right arm. My guess would be about 2 ft right and 1 ft higher.
  7. Hi, Ray! Thanks for reading the shadows for me. I tried, but they were confusing. I thought the shadows cast by the model's right arm suggested the strobe was at frame left. And if I were holding a camera in my right hand and a monopod with a strobe in my left, the strobe would always end up at frame left.
  8. BigPixel

    BigPixel Guest

    That's correct Frank. Camera held with my right hand, monopod held left handed and positioned across my body. The cord gets in the way a little but soon I'll have my transmitters and so that won't be a problem any longer.
  9. BigPixel

    BigPixel Guest

    That's where this simple Strobist technique shines, no pun intended.....overpowering ambient light to add shape and drama.

    That's even true with shooting TTL according to the Will Crockett DVD on TTL I purchased ahead of starting this new job. One of his 10 points is to simply make sure the strobe is supplying at least 2/3 the exposure. He also recommends metering ambient light then stopping down 1-2 stops and then shoot in iTTL. I'm sure this produces wonderful results on modern CLS enabled bodies but my S3 is not iTTL or CLS enabled. That's why all my experimentation has involved using the strobes in manual.
  10. BigPixel

    BigPixel Guest

    Thanks Jim and CIOCC.

    Ray, that's right. The strobe was right and high on the monopod.

    Gordon, it seems so simple now. It is fun and I'm finally getting the results I've always wanted. My first serious DSLR was the Fuji S2. Now an S3 at work. BOTH notoriously poor at TTL flash.

    Funny thing is that I have always shot available light -2 stops, just my eye. Now I'm adding back round, dramatic lighting. woo hoo! It is fun again.

    You're all so polite to put up with these newbie ramblings. Thanks again.

    Here's the Strobist link.


    And here's the B&H link to a universal hot shoe bracket that would fit any tripod 4x20 threaded screw for those using wireless connection.

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2007
  11. henryp


    Dec 29, 2005
    New York, NY
  12. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    I'm not sure stopping down to darken the BG works in all situations, though. If you have a black or very dark subject, it's going to get lost into the BG even though it is properly lit.
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    I need to open up the BG some more to give the pied crow some more definition, at least IMHO.
    As for the techniques of daylight fill flash, I've been doing it the old way for as long as I can remember, but I share your joy remembering how happy I was to get a roll of film back that looked like I wanted it to!
  13. No, but it works pretty well with people. Black birds are a special case. As you suggest, I think they work best framed against a light background, so I used exposure compensation instead of flash.

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  14. BigPixel

    BigPixel Guest

    Properly lit....that speaks TTL to me. The idea here is to overpower the ambient with strobe. If you shoot in manual this is easily accopmplished with a few test shotys to set exposure. Probably wouldn't work with most wildlife though as by the time you sorted out exposure....the birdie would be history.
  15. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    In my example above, the solution would have been to use a 3rd strobe behind the bird and aim it at the BG. Only one thing wrong with that, I didn't have a 3rd strobe. Opening up the base exposure would have been tricky, first, I can't blow out the whites on the bird, second, I need to keep the shutter speed to the higher side (actually, I'd like more speed than I had) as the bird is moving around. No harm, no foul (yeh, yeh....) I know what changes to make for next time, and I will have that 3rd sb800, maybe I'll bring the sb80dx and sb24 too, just for overkill!
    TTL is great, but....I think I still have to do some thinking like the old days, I seem to forget that as TTL is soooo good in so many situations, it allows you to stop thinking about it. When things get hectic, that can be a good thing, but getting the best shot possible still requires input from the human.
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