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By Scott

Update on “The Springs of Hope, Kenya” Orphange

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I got an update from Molly Bail (my friend of many years and the woman behind Springs of Hope, Kenya), on the progress in completing the Orphanage that so many of you have helped support through your generous donations, and I’ve got lots of great news to report today:

First, the roof is completely done, the security wall around the Orphanage is nearly complete (Molly tells me this wall is very important), and they are set to open in a little over a month; on Monday, June 1st.

Here’s part of Molly’s construction report:

“We are about to lay the tile on Monday. We are tiling the bathrooms, hallway and kitchen. If funds allow we will do main floor, and bedrooms. If not we will use throw rugs. They are finishing up septic tank; paint inside and out. The kitchen still needs appliances (frig, freezer, Stove/oven), and we need to put up the front gate, doors need to be put on, etc.”

I also asked Molly how we can help hit that June opening date. She gave me a list of things they still really need, and their approximate costs:

  • Furniture for living/dining areas $2,370 US
  • To fully furnish each bedroom is appox. $970
  • Kitchen  freezer $390
  • Refrigerator-$515
  • Kitchen Stove-$960
  • Cabinets for entire Kitchen-$2,170
  • Pots, pans, silverware-$410
  • Chairs and seating for house: $910
  • Linens towels-$447
  • Playground for the children (Molly says this is very much needed!) Approx. $4,840 US

If you, or if you work at a company that supports really great causes like this, and you want to pick up any one (or more) of those items, you will have done something really impactful in the life of a child.

100% of the money you donate goes to actually feeding and housing children who need us so badly. June 1st is right around the corner, and I hope you’ll consider picking up any one of the items on that list above.

You can donate by using PayPal (here’s the link to their site—the PayPal button to donate is there, or you can send a check).

Molly Bail, who sold her home and all her belongings, and moved to Kenya with her husband and son to build this Orphanage, included this line in her email to me yesterday:

“You all are so wonderful…please thank all your readers from us here in Kenya! We are so very grateful for them!

So am I, Molly. My readers constantly amaze me at their generosity, and compassion for others. I am humbled by their contributions to this very important building project, and honored that they’ve come on board with Springs of Hope, Kenya in such a meaningful way.

By Scott

Joe McNally and I Team Up This Summer For a Workshop In The Caribbean

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I’m sitting at my desk one day—the phone rings, and I hear, “Hey, ya Mook; it’s McNally.” He told me he called to tell me that he was putting together a special week-long small-flash lighting workshop in the amazingly beautiful, lush, tropical island of St. Lucia down in the Caribbean, from July 5-12th.

He told me that it would be limited to just a hand-full of students, and each day we’d all be shooting on location, including hands-on shoots on the beach, in the jungle; we’d be shooting all around the tiny island, and lighting everything from mountain bike racers to professional models, and that he was going to just immerse the class in how to absolutely nail location lighting with small flash.

He said he’d cover his techniques for mixing flash with available light, how to incorporate reflectors and diffusers, how to work with remote flashes, using color and gels, and basically he was going to share his whole bag of tricks on how to get pro results from small flash for your location portraits (which is the subject of his #1 bestselling book, ‘The Hot Shoe Diaries”).

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He went on and on about how unbelievable the island was (he said it was a true paradise) and how incredible the resort was (he had been there many times before), and how gracious the owners of the hotel were, what an amazing location this was for a workshop, and the whole time I was thinking, “This sounds amazing; I’ve gottta sign up for this workshop!” and then Joe says, “…and I want you to come down and teach a class one-day on how to finish your images in Photoshop.” I said, “Are you serious?” He was. He had me at “Hey, ya Mook!” I still haven’t picked my jaw up off the floor. Long story short; I’m so there!!!!

Anyway, now that I’m the official guest instructor, I’m inviting you to be one of those 12 students that will spend a week in paradise learning from the master of small flash. On the last day some Photoshop Mook will show up and share some of his favorite Photoshop techniques for correcting, retouching, and finishing the breathtaking images you will have taken during that week with Joe. I should have lots of shots to work on, because I’ll be sneaking into some of Joe’s classes and shooting right alongside you. I just can’t wait!!!!

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I asked Joe to tell me, in his own words, what the experience that week will be like. Here’s what Joe said:

“I have been blessed to have a bit of a second home in the Caribbean for 15 years–Anse Chastenet. I have always found a welcome there, and every time I have been there, I have found new inspiration about what to point a camera at. To be a better photog, stand in front of more interesting stuff. And in St. Lucia everything is interesting. The people, the setting, the light. We will work and shoot a lot for the week, and also mix in some hammock time and more than a few drinks with umbrellas in them.”

The lush tropical Anse Chastanet Resort he mentioned is our home for this workshop (you can see some of the views in shots above, taken by McNally himself—Here’s the link with workshop and hotel details), and if you scroll down that page a bit, you’ll find the info on Joe’s “Hot Shoe” workshop in paradise, which kicks off the evening of July 5th with a meet and greet. It’s going to be the learning experience of a lifetime for just 12 lucky photographers, and I hope I’ll get to shake your hand, and go shooting with you down in St. Lucia in July.

NOTE: Joe wrote about the whole thing on his blog; here’s the link to read about the resort, the island, how he wound up down there—the whole nine yards. A great read!

By editor

Lighting Gear Deal This Week on Larry’s NAPP News Show

I know a lot of you already watch Larry Becker’s weekly NAPP news report, but for those of you who haven’t caught his show yet, one thing I like about it is that he always covers different stuff from one week to the next.

He just did a great interview with Corey Barker about the new Intuos4 tablet, and he’s always got some new deal or discount cooking, usually along with what’s going on in the industry. Anyway, the reason I’m bring this up is today; this week one of his stories is about where to get less expensive photography gear and studio lighting for advanced amateurs who can’t drop $500 or $600 right now on something like a Westcott TD5 Spiderlight, but want something similar.

Anyway, you can watch the show right here today (above), or if you’re a NAPP member, each weekly NAPP News episode appears on the NAPP member home page, but you can always subscribe to NAPP News free through iTunes so you don’t miss an episode. Here’s the link (clicking it launches iTunes):

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=300445403

That’s it. I thought you guys might dig this since it’s a pretty cool lighting thingy.

By Scott

Giving Yourself a Photo Assignment

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Last week I got an email from a reader in Denver, Colorado who had seen my post about my Indy Racing assignment, and he needed a favor. He was preparing to take his family to Walt Disney World in Florida (It’s one of their favorite places so they’re regular visitors) and since has shot it so many times he was wondering if I had any ideas he could use for a self-assignment at Disney World.

The funny thing was: I had faced that same situation (both my kids are Disney fanatics, and I grew up about 45 minutes from Disney’s Main Gate and I started going there back in October of 1971, so I’ve shot it “to death.”). I shared with him a couple of self-assignment projects I had done at Disney, and one I hoped to do in the near future. Anyway, I thought it would make kind of an interesting post about shooting a place you’ve shot many times before. Here’s what I told him:

(1) Try and capture a series of images inside Disney (particularly in the Magic Kingdom park) that most folks would never know were taken inside Disney. Look for architectural elements, flowers, little alley ways, etc. and you’ll know the assignment worked if you ask someone where it was taken, and the last place they would guess would be Disney World. The image shown at the top was taken in Tomorrowland, and while that one’s not that hard to figure out (especially since you know we’re talking about Disney), I included a few below taken in other parts of the Magic Kingdom that are a bit harder (these were taken about three or four years ago).

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The top two were taken on Tom Sawyer’s Island in Frontierland, and the bottom one was taken in one of the shops in Adventureland.

Now, the one’s below are a bit harder yet, because they were taken at Disney World’s EPCOT Center park (once again, about three or four years ago).

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poster-1

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Now the photo below is a special case, because back when I took it, I ran it here on my blog and challenged people to figure out where it was taken, and I offered a prize to the person who figured it out. It took several days (and a few hints) to finally get someone to choose Disney World. Here’s the image:

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It was taken in the Morocco section of EPCOT’s World Showcase. OK, onto my 2nd project.

(2) Shoot only things that are round. I got this idea from Photoshop World Joe Glyda, who always gives himself assignments for his presentation during “The Art of Digital Photography” panel at Photoshop World. I tried this one myself and you can’t believe how many things are round in the Magic Kingdom, from sewer covers to the round street lights on Main Street to signs and even one of Mickey’s ears. The circles should almost fill the frame, so it’s obvious the circle in the subject. I had a great time with this one (but could not find a single shot from it, which is kind of driving me crazy because I know I have them on a hard drive somewhere).

So, those are two I had already done, but the one I had been saving for the future would be called “Quiet Places” or “Alone in the World” and it would be to capture a person (a child, a parent and child, a senior citizen), enjoying Disney when it appears they are all alone in their little corner of the park. So, for example, if someone was standing in front of the castle looking up at it, you’d have to frame the shot so you only see that single person, and the castle. No one else. So, no tourists or park employees could appear in any shot. If they’re standing on a bridge over-looking one of the little moats around the castle, you have to frame it so it looks like they’re all by themselves in the park.

Anyway, he really liked the ideas (his exact words were, “…that’s exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for.” Then he sent me a link to a shot he had taken a few years back that accidentally fell into the category of my future shot. He had taken a photo right when the park opened, first thing in the morning, of a little girl all by herself looking down Main Street toward the castle. There were a few other tourists on the left side of the photo, but they were out of the way enough to make you think, “Hey, how’d he get a shot with the park so empty?”

Anyway, I hope my reader’s idea, and my subsequent suggestions, get your gears cranking about what you can do the next time you’re at a familiar location and think to yourself, “Should I even bring my camera? I’ve shot that place to death.” Give yourself an assignment, and see what you come up with. Hey, ya never know.

By Scott

It’s Embarrassing Photo Thursday,” (Plus Some News Stuff)

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Happy Thursday everybody. I’m back from three-days in the Florida Keys as chaperone for my son’s school trip to “Sea Camp.” It was three solid days without my laptop, without meetings, without working. It was awesome!

OK, about this Thursday’s Embarrassing Photo: I really can’t explain it. I can’t explain our hair. Why we were dressed that way. Or how we got gigs, or dates, or paid our bills, etc. but somehow, we did. Hey, it was an 80s disco band. Not much was expected of us.

The band was called “7th Avenue,” named after Ybor City’s main drag–7th Ave. (From L to R: Drummer Randy Wheat, Bass Player Mark Southwick, Lead singer Chris Denham, Me [yes, I'm actually wearing a square-ended, knit tie from "Chess King."], lead guitarist Tony Llanes [of Big Electric Cat fame], and lead vocalist and rhythm guitar player Jose Herrera). Now, once you stop giggling, we can move onto the news:

  • Tom Rocks The House!
    First, a big thanks to Tom Opasinski for his thought-provoking blog post yesterday, that had everybody talking. I thought his message was really insightful, and from reading your comments, you guys got a lot out of his article as well. Thanks for making him feel so at home here on the blog.
  • New Online Class from RC
    Kelby Training Online just released another online class from Web Guru RC Concepcion. This one’s called, “Dreamweaver CS4 for Beginners” and if you ever wanted to finally get up to speed with building Web sites from scratch, you definitely want to check out RC’s class. Here’s the link.

    Which Monitor Do You Use To Tether?
  • I have a question for you guys. You’ve probably heard about me shooting tethered directly into Lightroom on my laptop, but my question to you isn’t about shooting to a computer. Instead, this is for people who use a large TV or computer monitor in place of the LCD monitor on the back of their camera (so you’re taking a cable out of your camera, and going straight into the monitor itself—-not into a computer).
    My questions are:

    (a) Which monitor have you found works best
    (b)
    How are you connecting your camera (RCA jack? HDMI cable? etc.) to the monitor.
    I want to try a different set-up for a change, and any advice you guys could share would be greatly appreciated.

  • Is it a photo, or a fake?
    AutoDesk (maker’s of 3D CAD software) has a very cool promo-site where they show you different images, and they have a little poll where they ask you to choose which images shown are real photos, and which are 3D computer generated (and both are really there—it’s not a trick). It’s kind of fun, and kind of amazing at the same time. Here’s the link.
  • Only Four-Spots Left For My Landscape Workshop in Savannah
    Remember the landscape workshop I mentioned on Friday, coming up in Savannah, Georgia? I just learned that there are only four-seats left, so if you were planning on being a part of it, I’d grab one of those seats today. Here’s the link to my post with the details. Hope I’ll see you in one of those four remaining spots.

That’s it for today, gang. I’m really beat (it was a nine hour bus-ride home last night), so I’m keepin’ it short today, but I’ll be back in full swing tomorrow! Have a kick-butt Thursday everybody (and stop snickering).

By Brad

It’s “Guest Blog Wednesday” featuring Tomasz Opasinski!

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Images courtesy of: The Ant Farm, Trailer Park Print, Crew Creative Advertising

“If I am to speak for ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.”
- Woodrow T. Wilson

I think that I know what Wilson had in mind back then. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines… My constant source of inspiration. :)

Hi Scott and fellow bloggers-photoshopers… what a pleasure to be here!

Since a topic of this blog was wide open, I had a reaaaaalllyyy hard time deciding what to talk about. It’s due tomorrow, so I better focus now… 3… 2… 1… focus. Opasinski, focusss…

I would love to share some reflections with you guys, not fully Photoshop oriented, but associated to a certain degree by Photoshop existence.

Long story short… or short story long, we’ll see… :) Read the rest of this entry »

By Scott

Tuesday News Stuff

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Here’s what’s up this beautiful Tuesday in April:

  • Pinhole Photo Gear
    One of my readers, Holly Tarquinio, turned me onto a very cool “Pinhole Camera” kit called the Hole-OnEx (shown above), that you can pick up for around $20. It’s made of cardboard (hey, it’s under $20), and you have to assemble it yourself (you’ll need some glue, and it doesn’t hurt if you’re crafty), but it’s amazing the images you can take with it. I found a couple of links to the camera here and here (though I haven’t done business with either of these companies). This got me digging around a bit, and I also found some slightly more expensive alternatives that don’t require assembly, like the Hole-OnEx Pin Camera Kit” (for $22 on Amazon.com—here’s the link), and the “Pinholga” with its own cable release for $62. I’m going to have to get at least one of these, so if you’ve got any experience with one or the others, let me know—I can’t wait to try it myself. Thanks Holly for the tip!
  • Rick Sammon Releases New Wedding Photography Book
    rickweddingOur buddy Rick Sammon just came out with a Wedding photography book which features the work of a host of different pro wedding photographers, with insights into their creativity, workflow, and there is even a Photoshop tips section with 40 pages of Photoshop tips for wedding photographers. I just got the book on Friday, so I haven’t had a chance to go through it yet, but if Rick is involved, it’s gotta be a great book. Here’s the link to it on Barnes & Noble.com and Amazon.com
  • Just How Strong is a Pelican Camera Case
    Steven Frischling over at the photography travel site, “Flying with Fish” really wanted to test the strength of a Pelican camera case, so he drove a really big truck right over the Pelican 1514. Here’s the link to find out how it fared after having a few tons cruising over it.
  • D-Town TV Download Problems On The Mend
    Man, did we have a mess of D-Town TV download problems last week. It’s a long story why, but it was one of those “Perfect Storm” kind of things that brought things to a screeching halt. Some folks had no problems; so folks were totally stuck. The good news is: the number of downloads is phenomenal, and continues to grow. The bad news is: the number of downloads is phenomenal, and that brings about bandwidth and delivery problems of its own, but you’ll be happy to know that we’re working on a fix, and hopefully by this Thursday, most of the problems will be behind us. Plus, we’re working on the iTunes issues as well. Thanks so much for your patience while we get this worked out. Luckily, the previous episodes will still be right there online, so you can watch last-week’s show without it hiccuping so much.
  • Asking Brad Update
    Our first “Ask Brad” post went up last week (along with another one yesterday) over at the D-Town TV website, but I wanted to clarify what the Ask Brad weekly feature is about. “Ask Brad” is for you to get help with Nikon technical questions, or more detail or follow-up questions about something we mentioned on the show. If you have ideas for the show, or suggestions (except for “don’t wear black shirts,” don’t waste your time with that one), you can just post those as comments right on the D-Town site. Matt and I read each of those daily.
  • GridIron’s “Flow” Beta Version Now Available for Free Download
    If you watch Photoshop User TV, you saw Steve Forde (from GridIron Software), showing their incredible software app “Flow” a few episodes back. Well, they made the beta version of it available for free download, and the number of downloads they are getting is insane!!!  We’re running the Flow beta at NAPP HQ, and I have to say; it’s absolutely amazing technology (watch the demo video on their site), and what I like best is that it’s nearly invisible until you need it. Here’s the link to download the beta.

That’s it for today, folks. I hope you’ll check out my guest blogger tomorrow, and then  join me back here on Thursday, for another startling episode of “Embarrassing Photo Thursday.” Have a great Tuesday!!!

By Scott

Tomorrow’s Special Guest Blogger Is……

….Hollywood Movie Poster designer, and Photoshop genius designer, Tom Opasinski.

I first learned about Tom back when he was still living in Poland. He was a NAPP member and had been in touch with my brother Jeff (who used to be NAPP’s Executive Director before he retired a few years back). Jeff showed me some of his work back then and I was wow’d. He had always told Jeff how he dreamed that one day he could come to a Photoshop World conference. Well, one day came, he did, and Tom walked away with a Guru Award to boot. The next time I heard about Tom he had moved to Los Angeles, and a little while later I heard he was designing Hollywood movie posters. Not bad, eh?

Well, tomorrow I have to honor of sharing Tom’s work with you, and I’m just tickled to see how far this talented young designer has come, and can’t wait to see what he has to share with us, so make sure you check out his story tomorrow.

By Scott

Studio Strobes vs. Small Off-Camera Flashes

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I finally got around to covering a question that I get asked so often from readers here on the blog, and that is:

“What is the difference between off camera flash (like a Nikon SB-800 or SB-900, or a Canon 580 EXII), and a Studio Strobe?

If I have time, I sometimes answer people back with a direct email, but I’ve gotten this question so many times, I haven’t been able to answer them all. So, I thought I’d put together an example to show you my typical response to the question, which is purely my own opinion on the subject.

What I usually say is something along the lines of:

“Whether you use a small off-camera flash, or a studio strobe, what you get is a bright flash of white light aiming toward your subject.”

I know that sounds pretty simplistic, but that’s what it is. For example, two of the shots below were taken with a Studio Strobe with a small softbox, and one was taken with a Nikon SB-800 with the same small softbox.

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First, see if you can tell which one of the three photos above was taken with the SB-800 (by the way; I know the shots themselves, which are unretouched right out of the camera) are kinda lame, but try to get past that part and just focus on  the light). Now, choose which one you think it is in the poll listed below. If you get it wrong; don’t feel bad. Joe McNally was in my office the day I shot it, and I asked Joe to tell me which one he thought was which.

He studied them for a few moments, and said something very telling; he said “The fact that it’s taking me a minute to figure out which one is which, says something, doesn’t it?” That’s the whole point right there! If you have to think for a few moments, the difference isn’t that obvious. Anyway, not surprisingly, Joe did get it right first time, but he too commented on how slight the difference was, and I agreed. It’s not “night and day.” It’s a subtle difference.

So, if the quality of light is at least somewhat similar (as long as you do something to diffuse it, like adding a softbox or shooting through a diffuser), then what are the advantages and disadvantages to using one over the other? (By the way, the correct answer is “The One On The Right”).

Here’s my short list of pluses and minuses:

Studio Strobes: Advantages

  • These are generally much more powerful than off camera flashes like the SB-800, 900 or Canon 580 EX II), so they can throw a lot more light when you need it.
  • They were made to have softboxes attached, so you don’t have to have special adapters, specially made softboxes, etc.
  • They come with continuous modeling-lights built-in. These help you see your subject, they help your camera’s auto-focus lock on (try focusing in the dark), and they give you a preview of how the shadows are going to fall on your subject.
  • Since they plug into the wall, they recycle very quickly, and so you can fire off lots of consecutive shots (great for shooting fashion, or kids), without waiting for the flash to recycle, which is something you always have to do with off-camera flash.
  • They don’t use batteries, so you can fire the strobes without ever worrying about the batteries dying, or the power of the flash changing as the batteries wear down during your shoot.
  • They have a light stand mount built-in, so mounting them on a light stand doesn’t take any special adapters.
  • There are lots of accessories like reflectors, grid spots, barn doors, etc. that are made for use with strobes.

Studio Strobes: Disadvantages

  • You have to plug-them in (though for some you can have a separate battery pack for on-location shooting, but these packs are fairly expensive, and like any battery—they run out of juice)
  • You can’t just toss one in your camera bag—-they’re too big, so they usually need separate protective cases to go outside your studio.
  • Although most decent strobes are fairly rugged, at certain points in the process, the flash bulb is exposed (like when you’re changing a soft box), so you have to take a certain amount of care not to break the flash bulb, especially if you’re shipping it for a location shoot.
  • These require a wireless transmitter and receiver to fire them wirelessly.
  • Good strobes are fairly expensive (though I think the new Elinchrom BXRi 500s are a steal at their price of around $600 each, with built-in wireless receivers).
  • You’re not mounting one of these on your camera’s hot-shoe.

Off Camera Flash: Advantages

  • They are small, lightweight, and you can mount them right on your camera’s hotshoe
  • They are battery powered, so you don’t have to have access to an electrical plug to make them work, so they’re ideal for shooting outdoors, in a church for weddings, at the beach, or anywhere that “plugging-in” doesn’t make sense.
  • You can fit one easily in most regular camera bags, so your flash is always with you.
  • You can set them to be wireless, so there are no cables to deal with.
  • The transmitter and receiver to be wireless are already built in (in most cases) so you don’t have to buy them separately.
  • A really great off-camera flash is usually cheaper than a really great Studio Strobe.
  • You can carry a bunch of these in a very small travel case.
  • These were made for location shoots, and that’s where they really shine (though they work fine in the studio, because after all—like a studio strobe; they produce a bright flash of light aiming at your subject.
  • You can place these little suckers about anywhere—inside a car, inside a box, down on the ground, up in a tree, hanging from a handrail, etc., which gives you incredible flexibility about where you place your light.

Off Camera Flash: Disadvantages

  • They’re not generally nearly as powerful as a studio strobe (though you can buy some high-powered off-camera flashes, like a Quantum Q-Flash).
  • There is no modeling light in most cases, so they don’t help with seeing your subject, auto focus, or getting a preview of how your lighting will look.
  • They need fresh batteries a lot.
  • There aren’t nearly as many softboxes or accessories available for off camera flash (although new stuff is showing up much more frequently now than ever).
  • You can’t fire the strobe as rapidly because they recycle slower than most studio strobes.
  • You need a special adapter to put one of these on a lightstand.
  • You need to have an accessory of some sort to soften and diffuse the light.

So which one should you use?
Well, here’s the thing; It depends on what you’re shooting, and what your budget is. If you primarily shoot on-location, then you’ll probably want an off-camera wireless flash. You can use these in the studio, too, and they’re not crazy expensive.

If you want to do just studio work, get a studio strobe called a Monoblock (or a monolight), which means it plugs right into the wall. You can buy some really inexpensive ones these days, but with stuff out like the Elinchrom BXRI’s, you can now get a really good strobe for near the cost of an off-camera flash.

If you need to do both: lots of studio work but occasionally some location work, you have two choices:

  1. Just use all off-camera flash. They work in the studio and out in the field (but know the limitations I mentioned above).
  2. Buy a studio strobe that uses a battery pack. That way you have the advantage of studio lighting on location. However, this is a fairly expensive way to go.

OK, so how does the pricing compare? Let’s take a look at two set-ups that I use myself:

Off Camera Flash (for Nikon Users):

Two (2) Nikon SB-900s off-camera flashes ($450 each)
Two (2) Bogen light stands ($56.50 each)
Two (2) Lastolite EZ-Boxes with light stand adapters ($164 each)
One (1) Smith-Victor carrying case for lightstands ($37.50)

————-
TOTAL: $1,411.50 (B&H Price)

NOTE: If you have a Nikon D3, D3X, the new D-5000, or any lower-end model without a built-in commander unit, you will need an SU-800 Commander Unit to control your wireless flashes, which would be an additional $249, or you could buy another SB-900 flash, but a commander is much cheaper.

UPDATED TOTAL: $1,660.50 (with Commander unit)

Off Camera Flash (for Canon Users):

Two (2) Canon 580 EX II off-camera flashes ($420 each)
Two (2) Bogen light stands ($56.50 each)
Two (2) Lastolite EZ-Boxes with light stand adapters ($164 each)
One (1) Smith Vector carrying case for lightstands ($37.50)

——–

TOTAL: $1,315.50

NOTE: To fire your wireless Canon flash you need either another Canon Flash unit, but it’s cheaper to buy their ST-ET Transmitter, which adds an additional $220.

——–

UPDATED TOTAL: $1535.50* (with transmitter)

(Note: you could save some money on either system by buying a cheaper light stand, a cheaper softbox—or maybe even a shoot-thru umbrella to cut the cost more significantly, but what I broke down here is pretty much the rig I use myself).

Studio Strobes
Two (2) Elinchrom BXRI 500s studio strobes
Two (2) Bogen Lightstands
Two 26″x26″ Softboxes
Two Carrying Cases (one for strobes, one for light stands)
Wireless Transmitter (the wireless receivers are built into the strobes in these models).
TOTAL: $1,550 (B&H Kit Price for everything above)

(Note: you can buy cheaper strobe kits than this, but this is what I would recommend to a friend. A good quality strobe is like a great lens. It makes a difference).

I think the most surprising thing here is that the price difference between off-camera flash and the studio flash is not all that big. So, it really comes down to what kind of stuff will you be shooting; where you’ll be shooting it, and which type of system suits your (wait for it….wait for it….) personal preference. At the end of the day, that’s what it eventually come down to. Which set-up appeals the most to you.

I’m sure we’ll have people arguing back and forth to make the case that their way is “better,” but the bottom line is; they both will do the job. They both create bright flashes of light that aim at your subject. You just have to decide, for your type of work, which one works best, because the quality of light isn’t so much going to be determined by the flash or strobe itself; it will be determined by what you use to diffuse it, and where you choose to position it once diffused.

I think the cool thing is; we have some really great choices. We have great gear available today, that’s becoming more affordable, with great accessories that make our job easier, that are powerful, flexible, rugged, and a lot of fun to use. . :)

By Scott

I’m Back From “Terry White Weekend!”

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This weekend I flew up to Detroit to spend the weekend with my buddy Terry White, and to do a presentation for his Macintosh User Group, “MacGroup Detroit.” (There’s a funny story about the snacks you see above coming up in a moment).

macgrp

They are just an absolutely fantastic group to present to, and I can’t imagine any group any where being more welcoming, fun, and gracious to a guest speaker than they are. It really spoils you (Photo above by Louis Levin). This year my presentation was on Retouching Portraits in Photoshop, and I had a full 90-minutes so I could really cover a lot of ground.

w-guest-prices1Of course, you can’t go up to Terry’s and not have a blast, because Terry really rolls out the red carpet, but this time was even more special because Terry had recently completed adding on a guest room suite at his house, and I was the first official house guest to stay there. The suite is awesome, (with a bathroom that would make the Westin jealous), but what really cracked me up was he had a basket of “mini bar” snacks just like in a hotel, and when I got there, sticking outside the basket was a card with a list of charges, just like in a hotel (of course, he did the thing as a gag, and I got Terry to give me the file he created—click on that thumbnail at the left to see it full size—it’ll crack you up! [Well, it cracked me up anyway]).

Anyway, we were doing totally fun stuff the whole time I was up there, and I really had a blast hanging with Terry in his totally tech’d out house. Thanks Terry for a wonderful weekend, and thanks Mac Group Detroit for such a warm welcome, and for the opportunity to share my latest photo retouching techniques.

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