We briefly covered one strobist technique before with our jumping off for dramatic lighting post. What we haven't done yet however, is to start at the beginning and explain for our less advanced readers what it is, and how to start with it (for not so dramatic lighting). So here it is, a little introduction...

The term strobist refers to images taken by small, portable, off-camera flash(s). The same term is used to describe not only the way of photographing, but the photographer who shoots this way, and the philosophy of it.

To understand why shooting like this can be such a huge benefit, we'll start with some example images shot with natural light and shot with an on camera, pop-up flash...

above: shot with natural, available light
on-camera, pop-up flash

Both of the above shots have lighting issues including being dull and flat. Straight on-camera flash is the least flattering of all flash photography. This type of flash can cause whitewash, red-eye and flat lighting. Ambient light can be a good choice in certain situations, but can also be flat. Under these circumstances, a higher ISO setting or lower shutter speed would be required to get proper exposure, which also introduces noise and/or blur.

By using off-camera flashes, you can add an extra pop of light, expose properly for foreground and background, and give an image depth and interest. It also allows you to really control your light. In this particular situation (in the middle of the water), big studio lighting kits that require being plugged into an electrical outlet also pose a dilemma.

above: the strobist approach using one off-camera light
(plus stand, umbrella, slaves and reflector)

the image taken from the set-up above

set-up example 2
shot example 2

A few more details about how the shots above were taken...

The whole session was shot on manual with the exception of the ambient and on-camera shots that were done on program. ISO was set between 250-400. Shot in RAW+ Jpeg. Flash was set between ¼ to ½ power (this is much better for the recycle times and to control the exposure of the sky).

Equipment used: Canon 7D, Canon 24-105 F4 L IS USM lens, Canon 430 EX flash unit, 8ft light stand, 36 inch translucent umbrella, white foam board for fill, wireless flash triggers.

Coming soon, we'll be getting into more advanced strobist techniques by using multiple flash units, so stay tuned!

All images © Patrick Douglas