These notes are chunked into similar themes so scroll down to find comments grouped on (1) Shooting, (2) Shopping (3) Posting and (4) General
If your question isn’t answered here, go to the Strobist FAQ’s Discussion Page to ask it – in due course the moderators will update the FAQ’s accordingly (and in the short term someone else will dive in and answer your question for you). If the FAQ’s get quite long over time, we may break the Shooting, Shopping and Posting into separate FAQ threads, but to get started they’re grouped below.
What is a strobist?
A strobist is a photographer who uses off-camera flash. This generates more interesting, flexible and creative lighting options than when using on-camera flash. Generally small flashes are used, it is not necessary to purchase full-on studio lighting
To be a strobist, as a minimum you need at least one flash that you can trigger while it is off the camera. You may also want to invest in a low-cost light stand and umbrella to use with the flash. All up you could be in business for very little investment. (Strobists have an unofficial motto – “Cheap is good”).
Photographer David Hobby established his Strobist Blog to spread the word and help others “see the light” (off-camera of course). This Flickr Pool is a parallel web site that provides an outlet to share photos taken using the techniques outlined on his Strobist Blog, along with a forum for discussion on all things strobist.
Please be aware that, commercially, Strobist® is a registered trademark. The word has been trademarked since its coining and original use in 2006 (and subsequently registered) on Strobist.com. Please do not use it commercially, as in selling "Strobist" gear or "Strobist" lighting courses, etc.
Its use is generally permitted as a noncommercial descriptor (as noted above) and for meetups, geographicaly-specific groups (i.e., North Carolina Strobist Group) etc.
That said, anyone can be a strobist. If you can take a photo, you’re qualified. Read on!
What is the difference between "strobe" and "flash"?
We generally use the terms as one and the same – but in the context of this site we mean small, portable, low cost flash units. Canon refer to their flashes as SPEEDLITES and Nikon refer to theirs as SPEEDLIGHTS, but you’re hardly limited to these brands – there’s a wide choice available.
What’s so wrong with using on camera flash anyway?
Grasshopper, you ask so many complex questions. Look, almost any flash picture looks better when you get the flash off the camera alright? Add some actual planning and technique, and woah did someone say Pulitzer?!
What do I need? How do I get started?
David’s Strobist Blog has a section called Lighting 101.
Read it. Print it. Read it again. This material is simple, because, well it is simple (but it takes practise so get out and shoot something). We can’t stress enough how important these pages are – Lighting 101 is how most of us progressed through David’s site. Then take a look at his On Assignment pages too.
What are my options to synchronize my off-camera flashes?
1) Optical slaves – where light from one flash sets off the others.
2) Radio slaves – where a pulse of RF modulation sets off the flashes
2) PC cord – essentially a cable (requires either flash and camera to have PC jacks and/or hotshoe to PC adapters)
3) Proprietary (Infra Red, Pulse Code Lights etc) sync schemes like Nikon CLS and so on.
What does Nikon CLS mean, and what does it do?
CLS stands for Nikon’s Creative Lighting System. The SB-900 flash is currently the most advanced flash in their range – it swivels, tilts, diffuses, slaves, commands, and communicates with the right Nikon camera body using tiny pulses of light. Having an SB-900 is great, having two is better, and a six-pack is a portable studio (or use the earlier SB800 etc). CLS can be run in an automated manner, or with significant manual override – and unlike when using a PW based wireless set up, you don’t need to wander over to each flash to make changes to the settings as those instructions are sent wirelessly. Unlike PW’s however, the CLS system has a relatively short range, generally requires line of site angles, and can be fooled by strong ambient light such as outdoors on a sunny day. That aside, the CLS system is an incredible development for photographers and more detail can be found here.
Do I need a Flash Meter?
There are two schools of thought on this. One says Yes and the other says No. There’s no argument that a Flash Meter is a fast-track to setting accurate exposures and lighting ratio’s - The Sekonic 358 (amongst others) is a good example of such a device - but millions of photos are taken without the use of such a tool – usually with some Chimping thrown in.
What is Chimping?
The act of taking a photo and looking at the LCD screen, perhaps using the histogram function as well, to eyeball the exposure and then make any adjustments you feel is necessary. The name chimp was given for the “oh oh!” sounds people made as they went through this process, but humour aside the LCD preview screen is there to be used and this instant feedback/learning is something you can’t get with film.
What is a PW? What is an eBay trigger? What is a Radio Popper?
PW is the common abbreviation for a Pocket Wizard a radio-frequency device that is used to wirelessly trigger a flash (which could be located quite some distance away). The PW can also be used to remotely trigger a camera. You need a PW for your camera and one for each flash (it is connected to the flash PC port by a short cable, but is otherwise a wireless set-up).
The eBay trigger is a device that provides a cheaper alternative to the PW. You should do a search of the Discussions on the Flickr Strobist Pool as there are mixed comments on the eBay devices.
RadioPoppers are a radio based system designed to overcome limitations of the native systems such as CLS (Nikon) and ETTL (Canon) - these limitations being distance, line of site, sunlight interference etc.
Do you shoot through an umbrella, or bounce out of it?
If you have a translucent white umbrella, you can do either, it depends on what you want to achieve – but there are no rules as such. Silver and Gold umbrellas are not shoot through, they are bounce based.
What is Strobist Bootcamp and what is the Strobist Challenge?
David Hobby ran the Strobist Bootcamp as a series of Strobist projects for pool members. This is now closed (but may come back – hint hint David). In the meantime, the Strobist Challenge is a fun exercise where the next project is largely determined by popular vote. No fees, no prizes, simply an exercise to “get away from the TV and take some pictures”
What are Grids and Snoots used for and what is their difference?
See the section called Lighting 101 on the Strobist Blog for more info – suffice to say a snoot is like a tube that you shoot the flash through to control the spread of light. A grid goes over a flash to control the direction of the light. Both techniques should be experimented with.
Where do I purchase the gear I need?
The blog tries to point to sources for various gear, but people also share info within these threads. Bear in mind that advertising in Flickr threads is generally frowned upon and we want to be good guests here.
Where can I buy a PW? Anything I should know?
You should search “Pocket Wizards” on the Discussions on the Flickr Strobist Pool as there are some very specific things you need to know. A key point is that “FCC” approved models use frequencies approved for use in US/Canada etc, and “CE” models use frequencies approved for use in most of Europe, Australia, Asia and NZ etc. CE models cannot be used with FCC in the same set up (i.e. you can’t have a mixed system) and while you could use CE’s in the US just fine – and vice versa – it’s to be discouraged as there’s little comeback when you’re accused of interfering with other transmissions (and in this day and age, having radio controlled devices that remotely trigger an event is enough of a challenge at the airport without having the defend illegal frequencies as well). Therefore, it’s recommended that you purchase PW’s that are approved for the country you live in. One last tip – some light meters such as the Sekonic 358 can contain a handy PW trigger – be sure to buy FCC (or CE) spec for this too, otherwise it may not work with your PW’s.
What’s a “Fong” device – do I need to buy one?
Gary Fong sells a diffuser that, while generally used on camera, can also be used with an off-camera flash. The idea is to create a softer light and this simple device works well. Some people have developed home made versions (after all, it looks like a small Tupperware bowl stuck on your flash). There are Flickr pools devoted to photos taken with his device.
3. POSTING PHOTOS AND DISCUSSION
What are the rules for posting pictures here?
Please scroll down the Strobist Home Page on Flickr to see the Pool rules, but key points are;
a. Only post photos in the pool where you used off-camera flash
b. Caption your photos with details of the off-camera flash used, and how you triggered it
c. Keep it work safe.
What are the rules for posting discussion here?
a) Before you post, please SEARCH the discussion threads first. Chances are your question or brainwave is not unique. You may find your answer without having to post anything, or you may be able to add to an existing discussion and therefore keep the dialogue grouped together
b) Keep it on topic (if it’s not Strobist specific but nevertheless you feel it would be interesting to the group, prefix your subject line OT for “Off Topic”)
c) No personal attacks, we’re all friends here
d) If creating a discussion thread, please write a descriptive subject line (e.g. don’t say, “Check this out” but rather something meaningful like. “New Slave trigger system launched by Sigma”)
e) If creating a discussion thread, please be sure to check back – some people go to a lot of trouble to help others, so thank them. And do it for someone else. It’s good Karma.
f) With so many members, your discussion thread will quickly slide down the pile, so you may need to search for it
g) No commercial or spam-like posts. The moderators will bounce these and may lock you out of the Pool.
How do I submit to the pool?
Firstly you need to join the Flickr Strobist Pool. On the assumption you have done that, now go to your picture on Flickr that you wish to add, and above the photo you will see an icon saying, “Send to Group”. Click that, and choose Strobist – and of course before you do any of that, make sure the pic you plan to post meets our pool rules!
How do I add a pic to a comment?
This can be very handy, and it’s not hard. Go to the pic you wan to add. Click “All Sizes” above it. Choose small or medium. Flickr will generate some HTML code for you. Cut and paste all this code into the comment you wish to write – you would normally then add a couple of sentences explanation above the code. Voila, you’re done.
Why did you remove my picture from the pool?
Pictures are removed when they don't meet the rules. You did read them right? They may be deleted because they were NSFW (Not Safe For Work), did not use off-camera flash, were bumped to get higher up the pool, or more likely was not captioned to our required rules. This is a very busy pool on Flickr and the admins use an amazing tool to help remove offending photos. Due to the high volume of pictures handled, you may not get an email explanation (depending on how busy the workflow is for the moderators).
I can't see my pictures in the pool?
With so many pictures being added, it does not take long for your to be pushed back a few pages. Some users have noted delays between submitting a photo and seeing it published. This seems to be a Flickr quirk.
What is a tag?
The great beauty of digital assets is the way you (and others) can search for them. By adding tags– essentially keywords – you can make it easier to find photos later. In the Strobist pool we use Tags for Strobist Bootcamp and The Strobist Challenge submissions, but you can tag your pictures however you like. Go to your photo in Flickr, to the right of the photo you will see the option to “add a tag”
Still stuck with Flickr?
There’s a heap of Flickr help right here. These pages cover copyright, posting, deleting, tagging and more.
4. OTHER STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW. YES YOU DO
Where can I find other information that might help me?
We have an ongoing thread called this ought to be on Strobist. Anyone can add to this discussion, and a quick browse will show it is full of useful resources that add to your knowledge base.
What do the Moderators do?
Firsly, the Admin Function resides with David. As an Admin he holds the master keys and can delete the entire site with one typo! Moderators do the rest...
a) Delete pics that don’t meet the Pool rules (sometimes without warning, hey it can be a busy job!)
b) Interpret David’s vision and keep the “house in order” with maintenance of discussion and photos pages
c) Manage the occasional series of Strobist Challenges
d) Discuss (via a private Flickr group) the rules and how they’re working. Less is more and we don’t want to make things too onerous. We also discuss future Strobist Challenges, the occasional repeat offender (we’ve had the odd serial pest, but not many), and how to predict the winning lotto numbers
Can I cross post my pics?
Of course. That’s a key feature in Flickr, add them to whatever pools you think are appropriate for your needs, just be sure that if they’re in the Strobist Pool that they meet our posting rules.
I have a new question, why is this thread locked?
Because this is not a discussion piece per se. We have another open thread called the Strobist FAQ’s Discussion Page if you wish to comment or make a suggestion. That way this page maintains its focus.
5. AND NOW A CLOSING CREDIT
Woah! Who wrote all this stuff?
This thread has multiple authors - it is a compilation of input from David, from the Moderators, and ultimately from you (so use the link above to contribute).
Thanks to all who have contributed along the way... Now go take some photos!
Originally posted at 6:35PM, 16 March 2007 PST
strobe_flash edited this topic 32 months ago.