Another One Bites The Dust

No not the model (Samantha) who was great to work with. I dropped one of my flashes on the concrete floor and it died. The trigger survived as did the Lumiquest SoftBox III that was on it at the time. This photograph was taken with the New Lumiquest LTp SoftBox on a boom stand above and in front of the model. It’s a neat light modifier and as portable and quick to set up as you can get. I wish everything I had to carry up those three flights of stairs had been this compact and efficient.

We had a few new guys at our Strobist St. Louis Meet-Up last weekend and they were taking notes on my lighting setup using the Lumiquest SoftBoxes and even borrowed my flash trigger to take photos of their own using the new Lumiquest LTp. These small Lumiquest SoftBoxes work very well for taking on location because they take up virtually no room in the camera bag. They also take less than a minute to set up. Try that with a traditional softbox. I’ll already be taking photos while you are still getting started.

I used the same setup in this photo of Crystal. The light is soft and flattering. The setup is quick and easy.

This photo makes me realize that the Lumiquest SoftBox III and LTp Softbox are perfect for taking engagement photos on location. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been shooting outside and had an umbrella turn into a kite, sending my flash crashing to the ground.

These Lumiquest softboxes direct the flash output instead of scattering it in all directions like a dome style diffuser. That’s important when you are working in an area where there are no walls or ceilings to bounce back all that scattered light. I’m looking forward to playing with these some more but right now I have a ton of photos to sort out and deliver to all the models who showed up at our group photo shoot.

Boom Boom Boom

I’ve wanted a boom stand for a while. Of course like everyone else; I want a lot of things but I don’t always need them, at least not every day so I usually try to find work-arounds for gear I don’t have access to.

Photography equipment usually falls into two general categories called cheap and good. Good stuff is seldom cheap and cheap stuff is rarely good. In a shocking contradiction to the general cheap versus good rule, I’ve actually had some success lately purchasing moderately prices items online.

My latest purchase is the Fancier WT501 Boom Stand, and some extra sandbags ordered from www.cowboystudio.com

Sandbags are the type of utility item that I doubt most people would spend more than a minute thinking about but these appear to be first rate and exceeded my expectations. They are saddle style bags with two pockets that have double zippers and a strong web carrying strap. I ordered a set of four to use on my light stands.

The boom-stand arrived with a few minor scratches on the boom arm despite the fact that it was wrapped in plastic. A few extra scraps of cardboard between the boom arm and stand probably would have prevented the scratches that were deep enough to create some small burrs that could potentially interfere with the boom arm sliding through the plastic angle joint. No big deal, just a minor annoyance.  Believe me, I’ll be adding plenty of scratches myself over time but that is normal wear & tear not shipping damage.

When you first pick up this stand you will hear the spring inside the upright rattling around and that may make you think there are some loose bolts somewhere. Not to worry, its just a spring inside the bottom section in case you forget to hold onto the top half of the stand when you release the locking clamp to raise or lower it. Instead of a big thud when the top comes down way too fast, there is a slightly smaller thud. Just remember that this is not an air-cushioned stand and watch your fingers.

I stuck a Sunpak 383s flash with a Lumiquest Softbox III and a Yongnuo RF602 wireless remote on the end of the boom to test it out. In case you somehow forgot how giant levers work since attending grade school, you will quickly be reminded and start scrambling for something to put in the included sandbag that serves as the boom counterweight. The kit even ships with a petite carabiner used to attach the sandbag to the boom.

The price of this boom stand was recently reduced, making it a nearly irresistible value to budget minded photographers shooting with battery powered flashes.

The good news is that this is a sturdy and useful piece of gear. If you decide later that you need something different it can be used as a reflector stand by adding a couple of spring clamps.

At the current asking price (I bought mine through www.amazon.com) it’s hard not to like this stand, especially when compared to the price of many small and simple flash accessories being sold these days. The quality of the stand and the sandbags exceeded my expectations. This may not be the very best boom stand money can buy but it won’t break the bank either. It will certainly impress your non-photographer friends when they come over for dinner.

Others may have a completely different point of view than I do so measure the information for what it is – one person’s opinion.

Strobist St. Louis Group Meet-Up

This photo has nothing to do with the Strobist St. Louis gathering that is coming up in a week and a half (November 20th & 21st). I took this last Sunday while I was scouting locations for another photo shoot I’m working on. I like it a lot so I’m posting it over here.

The registration page for the Strobist Meet can be found at this link – http://www.rutster.com/strobist/register/

I’ve been busy playing with  (testing) new gear in advance of the Strobist St. Louis meet-up where I will be getting together with a bunch of other photographers, models, hair stylists and makeup artists.

A glass of water spilled on my trusty (old) MacBook last night and that resulted in a big white blob appearing at the bottom of the screen. I dried the Mac out for twenty four hours and it appears to be fine now. It’s a spunky little machine.

This is another shot I like. Sure it may not suit everyone but it works for me. I’m hoping the good weather hangs on so I can take a few more outside photos next weekend.

I’ve got more goodies coming in the mail next week, giving me something else to look forward to and that always puts me in a better mood. More on gear towards the end of the month after I have done some more playing.

Halloween Debrief

Saturday night was the big Halloween Party in the Central West End. I took my D300 and my DIY ring-flash adaptor, which always generates a lot of interest (the first photo is a self portrait). I only saw a couple of other serious looking photographer types there and both were using Gary Fong flash accessories; those Tupperware looking things which cost way too much but must work because a lot of people like to use them.

I love a good Zombie Girl stare down. This is a crop of a larger image I took while I was standing on a chair. Lighting these things is a bit of a problem when you are working in a crowd so there is usually a lot of burning in of the background after the fact. I like the eye contact. It’s not always possible to ask first (or desirable) before taking a photograph. I’m not in it to make anyone mad or uncomfortable so I hope no one was left feeling that way.

Polka Dot Delights. I like the makeup work here. Very cool.

Look this way! I was wishing for a hair light here. I may have done a better job on the hair if I was willing to spend more time or just left the cluttered background alone. It’s alright for web viewing but I probably wouldn’t print it without doing a lot more work.

Beware of sharp edges.

This Costume was a crowd pleaser and this blue striped lady put on a great performance onstage. I guess the judges were looking for something different and that’s too bad. I think we need to encourage more of this sort of artistic creativity around here. Just saying…

My favorite power couple and the best of company as you can tell just by looking at those smiles. I had a great time taking photos as I always do and now it’s time to start planning the next project.

I posted some more photos over at Flickr – do a search for CWE Halloween 2010. You’ll see mine and others that way.