Friday, December 12, 2008

Gear Bag Friday: The Most Important Light Of All!

Good Morning Everybody,
Today I have another episode of Gear Bag Friday - Most certainly, I've got to be getting to the bottom of that gear bag before too long, don't I?

Tomorrow is a busy weekend so today is spent prepping the gear and verifying the job details for tomorrow - not a big day, but I still have to get the 'ducks in a row" as they say. LaDawn and I are heading out on one more trip next week. We are heading to Cashiers, North Carolina. Things are pretty well caught up here at the studio and I'm taking the week away to wrap the main body of work for the book. Don't worry, DPT will still be alive and kickin' all next week.

That said, let's hit it with another Gear Bag Friday...

The Most Important Light Of All!
Anyone who has been following DigitalProTalk for any length of time, knows that my gig is getting great lighting on the subject. Most of the time, that great lighting is achieved with my off-camera flash.
Sure, the camera is the most important piece of equipment that I use in shooting weddings, bar or bat mitzvahs, family portraits, or any other kind of photography. But, my off camera flash is the second most important piece of gear I use.

As I've said so many times before, you've got to get the light coming from a direction other than the camera, to create detail, depth, dimension, and color saturation on the scene.

I use my off-camera flash with the light coming directly out of the flash head, or shooting through a translucent 36" umbrella, or even in the bare bulb configuration. Many of these point have been discussed in previous posts at DigitalProTalk already.

Here is a quick listing of my off-camera flash gear:

1 - A Quantum T5d flash head.

2 - Powered by a Quantum 2x2 power pack.

3 - I may switch to the smaller power pack -- the Quantum SC turbo -- at the wedding reception. I also use this smaller pack for any smaller photo sessions for example, family portraits or high school seniors. The flash head is mounted on a Bogen/Manfrotto monopod via a Bogen/Manfroto 026 Swivel Umbrella Adapter.

The flash is fired remotely with Quantum's FW7Q radio receiver attached to it. The Quantum flash head powers the Quantum receiver directly. And, as I mentioned last week, the radio transmitter sits, Velcro’d to the top of my on camera flash - Canon 580 EXII flash.

That's pretty much it. It's a simple setup that gives me great portability, flexibility and speed when shooting any event. Its portability is so very important when I'm on location photographing on location such as a family portrait in the park. My lighting gear is simply, fast, and easy to use.

So gang, that's about it when it comes to off-camera flash. There are several posts right here at DigitalProTalk that describe how I use the light. Let me point you towards one Technique Tuesday post, "Dancing With The Light Fantastic" [link] that I think ties perfectly to this post and should give you a great feel for how I use an off-camera flash and set exposure in the various shooting situations in which I find myself.

If you are interested in an in-depth discussion and demonstration on how I use my off-camera flash, then I recommend that you check out, hit the Digital Resource Kit button, and look at the description of my DVD entitled, "Shooting Digital At The Speed of Light". If you're interested in ordering the DVD, just give the studio a call at 800.292.2994 and anyone can give you more information on this DVD.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. I hope you enjoyed the post and I’ll see everybody on the flip side of the weekend. Just remember, photons and pixels are best friends. See you on Monday, -- David

Related Links:
Quantum T5d Flash Head
Quantum Turbo Batteries
Bogen MonoPod
Bogen Umbrella adapter


  1. David - a question for you.

    We all know you're super big on off-camera flash, with good reason.

    So how come you've always got that 580 on your hotshoe? Why is it there, and how often do you use it? The occasional fill flash, perhaps? Or is it for some kind of be-prepared backup-on-the-fly emergency situation?



  2. Coming to God's country eh? If you weren't over 4 hours away from me, I'd have you over for dinner! Have a great trip!


  3. Anonymous: David uses the 580 on camera as an on-axis fill. He's got soft light coming from a shoot-through umbrella off-camera, then hard light fill on-camera. However, since the fill is down quite a bit (2 stops down? more than 2 stops down? can't remember for sure) shadows from the fill are too faint to see.

    It's a pretty agile setup requiring only one assistant to place the off-camera light. If you like, you can dial up and down the drama of the off-camera flash by varying the power of the fill.

  4. David,
    Again your work is beautiful. I have watched your videos on KelbyTraining and read your posts all the time. You have created such an energy in my desire for wedding photography. I am not worried about lighting as I can control it and I can just get creative. Thanks for your time that you take to teach us. It is appreciated by many!