Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ich bin ein Strobist

With my recent purchase of a previously-owned and operated used Vivitar 283, I'm now on the path to a simpler form of radiant enlightenment, i.e., to being a full-fledged strobist.

If you're wondering what a strobist is, you've probably never visited the Strobist blog--I do so almost daily--and you're missing out on a wealth of helpful lighting information focused, for the most part, on the use of small, inexpensive, (typically) on-camera strobes and their many off-camera uses... something I've been more-than-a-little interested in for some time.

This past Sunday, I ventured to Pasadena, California, for the monthly camera show held at the Elk's Lodge. The Pasadena Camera Show is like a small, indoor, photography flea market with vendors selling all kinds of (mostly used) camera gear. That's where I found a good deal on a Vivitar 283, in excellent condition, with lens/filter adapter and sync cord, for $30. (Vivitar 283s and 285s are the strobes-of-choice for many strobists and I'll be looking to add another strobe, probably a 285, to my camera bag.)

I returned home and the first thing I did was insert four, "AA" batteries into the strobe, attach my cheap, E-bay, radio receiver to the strobe's sync cord and fire it remotely. Strobe and radio slave worked flawlessly.

Now I'm ready to go out there and apply whatever it is I think I already know about lighting pretty girls to the world of small, off-camera, strobes.

The pretty girl at the top is Alexis. I shot Alexis last week (for Playboy/Club Jenna) at a location house located in the hills above the San Fernando Valley. MUA and hair by Dan. I used three light sources: A 5' Photoflex Octodome for the main, a Chimera medium strip for an edge light, and a small umbrella, boomed overhead, for a hair light. I also used a Westcott, 40", 5-in-1 reflector, silver side out, to bounce in some front fill. Canon 5D w/85mm, f/1.8 prime, ISO 100, f/8 @ 125.


WillT said...

I'm looking forward to seeing how you fare using small portable flash units for pretty girl shooting.

Like you, I've read Strobist from the beginning--always fantasizing about reducing my load. But it's always turned out to be just that--a fantasy. At the end of the day, I still need the Pocket Wizards, the stands, the clamps, the reflectors, and the right light modifiers (especially a beauty dish, or a large umbrella, or an octodome) to make my clients look the way they want to look. And while you can use these small flash units with an umbrella, you can't use them easily, or at all, with the other modifiers. So where's the benefit?

Anyway, looking forward to your results. I still fantasize.


SeanMcC said...

Hi Jimmy,
Been there since DH made the pages public.

Question for ya on the lighting here. Octa at f5.6 I assume, but what were the others set at?

jimmyd said...


I hear ya. We'll see. I'm quite excited to try it out. I can think of all kinds of situations it will (i hope)come in handy... assuming it delivers the results i'm looking for.

jimmyd said...


actually, I often drive my main a bit... maybe a tenth or two-tenths of a stop overexposed on the meter. that gives the model's skin a bit of a softer, diffused glow look without having to do so in post. In the pic accompanying the post, i was shooting at f/8 to balance with the exterior daylight outside the window behind the model. I didn't want that area blowing out.

for the edge and hairlight, i usually meter one, two, or three tenths over my main. hair color sometimes mitigates that a bit, e.g. blondes get a bit less coming from the hairlight.