Strobe info roundup

I'm planning on doing more MTB work in the future and it's pretty hard to do that without a flash. You can usually rely on the pavement in road cycling to reflect enough light onto rider's faces (or something close enough for Photoshop), but try to do the same in MTB and you'll often end up with faces entirely in shadow. At the Sea Otter cross country race I saw one photographer with three off-camera strobes setup to freeze each rider as he/she passed. Another photographer had only two and really wished he had brought out that third to light up that last remaining patch.

Another reason to learn how to use your flash: catalog work pays much better than race work and most cycling magazine covers are set shots with well-planned lighting (off camera lighting, near-twilight, etc...).

I'm pretty flash ignorant. I'm waiting to order my very first external flash -- the Canon 580EX II -- and I've only used the on-camera flash most sparingly. I've been reading up on the Web and thought I'd share the results.

  • Strobist: David/Strobist has one of the best blogs among the 100+ in my feed reader. It's practically a book on lighting with strobes as various entries feature case studies of his work ("On Assignment"), tutorials, and sampling of great photos on Flickr.
  • SportsShooter.com: Remotes with Dave Miralle: the Strobist has inspired me to pick up a pair of PocketWizards when the dough finally starts rolling in. Further pushing me towards that puchase is Getty Photo's Dave Miralle teaching a SportsShooter.com class on how to shoot with remotes. The creativity of where you can stick a camera if you don't have to press the shutter impresses me. Dave Miralle's video is one of many on SportsShooter.com, which is generally a useful site for all things sports photography, even if it doesn't really feature cycling.
  • Dave Black: Fill Flash Techniques: it's a short little tutorial surveying Dave Black's work and that's why I like the link. Rear curtain sync, zoom flash, gobos, and all the other basic techniques are briefly illustrated.
  • Canon 580EX II: this doesn't fit in with the links above, but I thought I'd point out why I've got an itchy trigger finger for buying this flash. Compared to its predecessors it's quieter (I hate flash recycle noise), 20% faster, and more weather-proof. It is also the first Canon flash of the modern age to feature a PC socket, which will save me the need for silly adapters when I buy my Pocket Wizards.

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