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Flash in the Canyon

Mar 26

In Lighting, On Location, Seminars & Workshops at 1:13am

group flash

Maybe we set a record last night. Dunno. Probably not. But we had fun, and once again, proved that trying to get photographers to read and then abide by the dictums in the instruction manuals is roughly akin to the New York Knicks going on a substantial winning streak. Just ain’t gonna happen.

There are 33 participants this time around at DLWS Moab, and 12 of ’em are out there in this photo holding Nikon SB800 flash units. We started off with splitting the VALs into the three groups of A, B, and C, and that worked well, but then we decided to stress the system and put all dozen units into A group, which the manual does not recommend. I have no idea what the max is, or what the manual actually says, but even if we had known we would have blown it off anyway in the interests of experimentation and devil may care, laugh in the face of danger shenanigans.

Son of a gun, it worked. I mean, it worked after I got all the guys alerted to the fact that it wasn’t gonna work if they had their big hairy thumbs covering the receptor on the flash unit they were holding. That minor issue resolved, all twelve fired off of my little friend, the SU800, hot shoed to the camera. Overall exposure was about 1/6 second or so and maybe kind of 5.6 with EV minus two dialed in on aperture priority. All flashes have zero compensations dialed in.

The key to the coloration is pushing the white balance into tungsten, and covering the daylight flashes with 2 full cuts of CTO (color temp orange) which brings the units to the temperature of your average bedroom lamp. The minus 2 stop overall exposure gives the moody blue color to the fading daylight, and then the gents all light themselves up.

We’ve been working pretty hard out here.


Josh Bradley and Brad Moore are just about done in. Some of the participants are a bit pooped, too. But, as I always tell the assistants, don’t limp. If they get sick, or tired, they get left by the side of the road. We’re really gonna miss those guys.

Duncan says:

on March 26, 2008 at 4:39 am

We did it with 20 togs in Frankfurt during a strobist meet a few weeks back.
Bert used the new BioWizards to trigger his flashes though….. 😉


Bert Stephani says:

on March 26, 2008 at 5:11 am

Cool shot Joe

But not a record:

Mark K. says:

on March 26, 2008 at 8:16 am

“But, as I always tell the assistants, don’t limp. If they get sick, or tired, they get left by the side of the road….”

Yes, I can attest that Joe does say this. Which is why even I, once a client, rucked gear through an airport in Germany to make sure we made a connection. He instilled the fear of the Almighty in me too.

This workshop sounded like a great time!

Aaron Hardin says:

on March 26, 2008 at 8:43 am

Hey I know that guy (Brad Moore). I hope he isn’t giving you too much trouble. Give him a thump on the head for me if you would.

John Leonard says:

on March 26, 2008 at 10:22 am

Cool group shot! Nikon says no more then 3 speedlights per group……..

Yeah, they can have my other speedlights when they pry them from my cold dead hand.

Randy Baran says:

on March 26, 2008 at 11:01 pm

White balance. I meant to ask if you used daylight on the show of the cowboy last night. I figured you did when you said you gelled the flash and probably underexposed the sky to get the rich color.

Hope to see you at one of the seminars sometime. Are old film geezers whose minds are all but gone still invited?!


Martin says:

on March 28, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Thanks for a great week, Joe. You are a fantastic teacher, and more importantly, a really nice guy.

Steve Jones says:

on April 2, 2008 at 11:44 am

Way to go Joe. I remember 25 yrs ago in a Sampan in China we had 5 photographers and one was a bald guy from Florida. We had a government official from Beijing guiding us to some petroglyphs down on the Vietnam border.
We were all bored, due to a broken down engine so we were inside the boat and put the bald guy in 5 different positions around the room and with 5 exposures on 1 sheet of polaroid and a portable flash(probably an old nikon sb???) and so.. we got 1 photo with a bald guy in 5 different spots around the inside of the boat and with the last shot he went over and put his arm on the shoulder of the big shot from Beijing. It turned out pretty cool( with 5 pros giving input our chances were good but iffy.) Then we gave the picture to the bigwig from Beijing. It is often pretty amazing when lots of creative energy is given a chance to wreck havoc on a Sampan in southern China.
Keep up the great work. Us older guys love to read your blog and share in the lifestyle that we have chosen for ourselves. We all know the value of “laughing down lonely canyons” with a camera in hand. Keep laughing and smiling Joe.

Mike Allebach - Philadelphia says:

on April 3, 2008 at 12:43 am

I love the key color shifting that you are doing. I’m totally gonna start using CTO gels more!

Bob Ebersole says:

on May 3, 2008 at 10:57 am

I can say, “Been there! Done that!” Joe, you made the trip worth while. Thanks for the less then good critique. It has helped me to spend more time over each possible and to really use that strobe working the entire truck. My second set of Cisco pics were much better. “The Moment it Clicks” is a great read, over and over and over!!!

Kent Weakley says:

on October 20, 2008 at 9:44 pm

Thanks Joe for making this workshop fantastic. Ya, Moose and Laurie are fine, but you take the cake. You’ve got the humor, the experience, the hands-on/let’s-go-do-it-right-here-right-now attitude that’s makes everyone smile. In life, it’s always a pleasure to watch someone who truly loves what they do, whether it’s an auto mechanic or sushi chef. You’re a great photographer and an even better teacher!

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