Santa Fe New Mexico Family and Children Photographer – David Moore» Blog Archive » Starting out as a Strobist

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This is the photography blog for photographer and writer David Moore. He's based in Santa Fe, New Mexico but speaks with a funny accent.


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    September 25th, 2009

    Starting out as a Strobist


    © Matt Roth -

    I’m a natural light guy. Or have been until now.

    Hugely unimpressed by almost all uses of on-camera flash, and fascinated by the challenge of capturing the quality of real light in my scenes, I used to swear I’d never use a flash.

    And for most of my work – on location children’s portraits – that works well, most of the time.

    I choose the right time of day, and a good location in possible, and chase after the kids always trying to maximise the catch-lights in their eyes, and get some flattering natural light falling across their faces.

    But sometimes that’s just not possible.

    A little flash light bounced off a nearby wall or ceiling might open up their shadowy face and cut the chance for motion blur. Or used outside, it could open up some opportunities to work with the sun to get some good effects.

    David Hobby’s great site had been tempting me over the last while, but it was two recent posts that pushed me over the edge into doing something about learning some new techniques.

    First, he linked to a post by Robert Seale, which outlined how he shot 4 different setups of Lance Armstrong in four minutes flat in the basement of Armstrong’s bike shop. Obviously Seale’s a lighting ninja with a bunch of kit, and assistant and talent to burn, but you can’t argue with the results.

    Then I caught a blog post by Matt Roth, a staff shooter at a small Maryland paper who got the assignment to shoot local star high school athletes, and really went to town on it. Again, I don’t see work like this in my near future, but I’m definitely going to put some time in to get me comfortable with the basics at least.

    There’s a Canon Speedlite 430EX (and Stofen diffuser) in my bag now, and the minimum stands and brolly setup on the way from Midwest Photo Exchange (or MPEX). I went with the 430EX over the Strobist-approved manual flashes so that I could use metered E-TTL on-camera if I had to.


    I’ll be blogging my through the learning process as I go, but if, like me, you’re looking to get started with some guerilla lighting techniques, there’s a lot of good information out there. As well as the Strobist, Zack Arias’ blog has some good advice, and he teaches the OneLight Workshop (and has DVDs you might like).

    And David duChemin, who knows his stuff, recently recommended the Seeing the Light eBook from Mitchell Kanashkevich. I’ve not read it yet, but David says, ‘if you don’t like flash because you “don’t like your images to look lit” then you need to check this one out’ – which sounds good to me.


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    3 Responses to “Starting out as a Strobist”

    1. Angela Eaton Says:

      We are in the exact same place, David! I have finally come to the conclusion that although using natural light is truly beautiful, I believe that many “lifestyle” photographers use it as a crutch because they don’t know the techniques of studio lighting or even using off-camera lighting on location. I, too, am beginning my journey of learning the strobist way (also my first touchstone as he is for so many people). I don’t know what my final outcome will be, but I can only believe that techniques that I use can only enhance my eye for light and put more tools in my toolbox as a photographer. I just took a workshop on studio lighting and it drove me crazy being tethered to a tripod and the lighting setup — like you, I just chase the kids around and they lead the show. I’ll keep you up to date on any unique progress that I make and I’ll keep my eye on you as well! Good luck!

    2. Finally got my Strobe on | David Moore - Santa Fe Children and Events Photography Says:

      […] took longer than I’d planned, but I’m now fully set up for some off-camera lighting […]

    3. Kankache Says:

      i’ve been a strobist for about half a year, and i still love tleling other photographers about this house built by david . others have blogged about it, but nobody makes it as non-threatening. thank you for making off camera lighting such an approachable, fun subject!

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