Strobist: Mobile lightstand for events

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by Uncle Frank, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. I've reached the point where I only want flash if it's off-camera. There's something wonderful about quartering light diffused by a white shoot through umbrella :smile:.


    But that presents a problem for event photography. Using a lightstand is too restrictive, and aiming a flash with my left hand while shooting with my right hand is out of the question, since I use a big lens for events (28-70/2.8). I think I've found a solution.... the human lightstand :Happy:

    I was wrapping up an event on Sunday, and the light was fading. So I hooked up an sb800 and a tiny 32" umbrella in shoot through mode. Then I checked around for someone who looked bored... and it just turned out to be a lovely young lady. Imagine that :rolleyes:.

    I put the flash in manual at 1/2 power, knowing the umbrella would eat up a stop or two, and instructed my lightstand to position herself 5 feet away from the subject, at camera left, and to find an angle where she could only see one ear. Then she was to point the tip of the umbrella at the subject's nose.

    I took some test shots to determine settings that balanced the flash with the ambient (1/160s f/4.0 at 85.0mm iso200), and locked them down in manual mode. Then I was free to move around the subject and find a good perspective and a good expression. Note that as the light fell, I re-adjusted the shutter speed to keep the ambient balanced with the flash.

    View attachment 102896

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    This final shot isn't very sharp, because I was holding the flash in my left hand. But I wanted to have a picture of my "lightstand"... the lovely young lady at frame left :645:.

    View attachment 102900
  2. Your right Frank, off camera is a good way to go. Course there is another alternative and that is to use natural light as the main and then fill with an on camera flash. Like you I find it much easier to control it the other way around.
  3. That's what I did before I became a student of the strobist, but it's more difficult. When you use ambient for the main, your shooting angles are dictated by the direction of the sunlight, and it's harder to create a differential between the levels for the subject and background.

    Besides, I really like having a pretty lightstand :wink:.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2007
  4. It does make you look like a stud with your lightstand Frank. :biggrin:
  5. Frank.... you really nailed these shots with the lighting....
    excellent shots :biggrin::biggrin:
  6. jcovert

    jcovert Guest

    I agree, these are some great shots Frank. I'm also interested in the movable light-stand if you come up with a nice DIY solution.

    p.s. I was just checking out the BH light kit you bought and noticed that Impact makes casters for their stands! That's pretty cool.
  7. Nice improvisation! I've seen shoes used as lightstands...yours is so much better:smile:. I think there is an inherent tension between keeping mobile and having several strobes and being able to perfect the light. I also think you have to experiment, and your creative use of human resources fits the bill. It also looks like she had fun, which is the whole point, right?

    Great shots and even better that you can be flexible and creative. I'm just beginning to work on off-camera lighting, but your examples are a good reminder to stay open to whatever works. Now you need to post a DIY lightstand entry on Strobist! :biggrin:
  8. Ray C.

    Ray C.

    Nov 7, 2005
    Just a few moments ago, while searching posts for another thread, I stumbled across this:

    Your lighting and approach to lighting has grown leaps and bounds in a very short time.

    Bravo! Take a bow my friend!!

    Also, gotta love the human lightstand!! I must admit, my kids aren't terribly fond of it though...:wink: "Awww man, AGAIN??!!"

    Another alternative I sometimes employ is the small brolly on a background light stand. They're small, can be held, placed on a tabletop, etc.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  9. Thanks, folks. Reading the Dave Hobby's blog has given me a quick leg up on lighting, but I'm still very much of a newbie, and humbled by examples I see from experienced Strobists. This isn't a topic to be mastered quickly, so enjoy the ride with me.
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