One Light, One Kill...

Okay, so imagine you are Zack "OneLight" Arias (that's him above, with the cheeky grin propping up the Cosmopolitan) and you are attending your first GPP in Dubai as an instructor. You hear it falls to the new guy to take the group portrait.

That "new guy" thing is a crock, of course. But I'm betting Zack doesn't know this. I did it last year in 129-degree heat, so this year I get to chill. (Oh, and I did it available light...)

No pressure -- you are just gonna light a couple dozen people in a very dark theatre is all. Oh yeah, but one of them happens to be Joe '57-Speedlight' McNally. No pressure there. And the pucker factor isn't lessened any by instructor Chris Hurtt and yours truly constantly mentioning how daaaark that big theatre is, either. Plus a few well-timed flash pops on his PW frequency just to keep him on his toes.

So what does Zack do? He steps up to the plate, points to the left centerfield fence and takes the first pitch downtown: He lit the entire group with one SB-25 speedlight and a, uh, Gary Fong Lightsphere. How, you might ask?

Like this.

(Insanely high ISO photo by someone who picked up my camera at the Vista bar one night in Dubai.)



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Anonymous murat said...

How clever is that? That's absolutely wicked !

April 13, 2009 7:41 AM  
Blogger Georgios said...

Bloody genius or what...!

April 13, 2009 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Zack Arias said...

You and Chris provided enough jabbing to keep me on my toes! Thanks for that! :)

It was fantastic hanging out with you for a week! Thanks again for all of your support through the years and I'll see you in the desert next year!


April 13, 2009 8:28 AM  
Blogger TheOm3ga said...

Lol, big pros got owned by the beginner.

April 13, 2009 8:30 AM  
Blogger b lorenz said...

you've gotta stop the Dubai thing, that place is not good for America.


April 13, 2009 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Matt J said...

Awesome! Gotta save up the beans to attend GPP one of these years!

April 13, 2009 8:42 AM  
Anonymous Zack Arias said...

OH... And I guess posting a shot of me drinking a cosmo is payback for me twittering the link to our caricatures! :)


April 13, 2009 9:37 AM  
Blogger Samantha Nandez said...

Nicely done!

April 13, 2009 10:05 AM  
Blogger Rolando said...

Very creative! Kudos to Zack for this. I can imagine the challenge for the next photographer in line. It must be fun next year.

April 13, 2009 10:27 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Great example of brains over $$$. Awesome shot!

April 13, 2009 10:30 AM  
Blogger Heipel said...

Nothing short of f'n brilliant!!

April 13, 2009 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Daniel Fuentealba said...

what a group to spend a week with. Zack rocks by the way! as well as strobist. regards people!

April 13, 2009 11:44 AM  
Blogger JS said...

If this had been posted April 1st, that Gary Fong thing would have been gilding the lily.

April 13, 2009 11:50 AM  
Blogger Ramón said...

What about the focus... Kept one for the entire photo or changed for every photographer? How to control the varied DOF?

April 13, 2009 12:39 PM  
Blogger jBONE said...

love it, talk about thinking outside the box!

April 13, 2009 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Alex Russel said...

Chalk up one more point for the "Use your brain, not your wallet" crew ;D

April 13, 2009 12:52 PM  
Blogger damonw said...

Brilliant! What an excellent dang idea! Plus the post explaining it all with the steps, was just what I needed.
Nicely done, Zack

April 13, 2009 1:15 PM  
Blogger Agile Images said...


April 13, 2009 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Bill Giles said...

I like the feel of this group shot. It's very well done.

It was a "DarkSphere", which makes it OK.

April 13, 2009 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Bill Giles said...

David Tejada's Darksphere:

April 13, 2009 2:32 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Good job Zack. And thanks for the post Dave. Been strobe-painting for a while ( but that darksphere is a neat trick. Will be adding that to my kit bag.

April 13, 2009 3:20 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Good job Zack. And thanks for the post Dave. Been strobe-painting for a while ( but that darksphere is a neat trick. Will be adding that to my kit bag.

April 13, 2009 3:21 PM  
Blogger Mike Murrow said...

wow. i gotta learn how to do that.

April 13, 2009 3:24 PM  
Blogger Michael Zelbel said...

Hahaha, the I think the special price for the best comment goes to Alex Russel: "Use your brain, not your wallet". Awesome!

April 13, 2009 3:25 PM  
Blogger Sledgeweb said...

Shouldn't it be "One Light, Twenty Nine Kills"? Interesting approach and a nice read.

April 13, 2009 3:50 PM  
Blogger A G Photography said...

Genius is not about the tecnique used.
It is an old trick used in still life, interior and architecture shooting.

Genius is about the lateral thinking: using a well known tecnique in a complete different shooting situation to get great results.

I think this is the pure "strobist" essence.

April 13, 2009 3:57 PM  
Blogger Awesomefest said...

I used a similar process out of necessity for about 2 years. Here is an example of how I used my process in a wedding:

Zach's method is a bit more efficient. My method was tedious and panic inducing and left me hours of clean up in post. But the result is often surprising and fun! You can check my method here:

April 13, 2009 4:54 PM  
Blogger A Whites Photography said...

Love the thought process that went into this. Technical. I'm still learning as a stobist, butthis sets the bar high. Great job.

April 13, 2009 6:07 PM  
Blogger Greg Edwards said...

+1 for Ramon's question above about selecting focus points for this series of shots.
Like everyone else said...excellent use of your brain here!

April 13, 2009 6:18 PM  
Blogger Sorin Florea said...

Nice ideea.

April 13, 2009 6:25 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

I enjoyed watching John Michael Cooper use this technique at the DWF Convention in AZ this past January.

April 13, 2009 9:23 PM  
Blogger Behind the Shot said...

Great technique! I used couple of times on my newest shots, it works great, well done by Mr. Zack "OneLight" Arias!

Sam Robles

April 14, 2009 12:00 AM  
Blogger siano photography said...

I saw the shot through zack's twitter.
absolutly awsome. it just comes to show, there are a 1000 solutions for every situation.

it's so much fun to see inovations in the making ...

April 14, 2009 4:22 AM  
Anonymous Jay Rodriguez said...

fantastic shot!
Colors are vibrant, the image is very crisp and best of all...he only used 1 strobe...LOL... Take That JM...J/K

April 14, 2009 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Fotografi said...

Amazing! Really simple and inteligent.

April 14, 2009 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Patrick Cavan Brown said...

Zack always does cool stuff.... this is not surprising. Remember when we used to do this on film? It was even easier then... no photoshop.

In honor of this post (and in honor of riding coattails) here is a shot I executed a few weeks back:

April 14, 2009 11:42 AM  
Blogger Josen said...

A SB-25 fitted on a 'black' Lightsphere and mounted on a tripod. Add Erik leaping over seats trying to paint the guys in the least time possible, all the while swinging it like a club. Welcome to the new DIY gizmo....... the bludgeonosphere

April 14, 2009 12:24 PM  
Blogger Matt Wynne said...

Sounds like he took a lot of grief but the shot came out great. Well done.

April 14, 2009 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Great shot by Zack!

Bad drink by Zack! :-)

April 14, 2009 12:57 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Awesome shot Zack. Sweet Idea.

April 15, 2009 7:32 AM  
Anonymous Hala Salhi said...

If mama only knows how famous her Jag is now!! and how her daughter has become a super model overnight ;-)

David thank you sooo much for sharing knowledge throughout the week and making it super fun.. Can't wait for next year already.

April 15, 2009 2:13 PM  
OpenID realitytourist said...

Hmm, 34 layers, he coulda done that on one roll of film.:) Very nice work.


April 15, 2009 9:26 PM  
Blogger Chest Rockwell said...

I call 'meh'!

It's an old-school trick, done by architectural photographers and it ended my career assisting architectural photographers. Walking round a church at night with a Lumedyne popping light into every nook and cranny sounds good... until you find 34 dismembered shiny-white toes of your Converse All Stars dotted around the place.

April 16, 2009 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Chicago photographer said...

And extra points for not bumping the tripod halfway through.

April 17, 2009 3:59 PM  
Blogger alexdpx said...

I've done something similar but on a smaller scale. The problem that my friend and I faced was that we didn't had an extra stand to hold our speedlite. So I thought of doing it light painting style. I set my camera with a shutter speed of 3 seconds - long enough to pop one flash manually from 2 directions, but short enough to be able to hold our pose without any significant movement.

I did her photo separately doing the above exercise and then we switched places. Afterwards I just composited both shots in Photoshop and the result is this:

April 21, 2009 9:30 AM  
Blogger Wiliam R.S.P. MacLeod, Jr. said...

Funny.. I've been doing the same thiong since Zack posted 1/2 of a video on YouTube. I've been using a "Darksphere" to turn my SB800's onto 120j's! (Zack, I emailed you and you neber posted part 2!! I had to figure it out on my own from your OneLight DVD....)
Every time I hit this site.. I add another weapon to my bag of tricks!

April 22, 2009 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Rogier Bos said...

Man, what a shot! I'd love to attend this event - but what if you got asked to take the next picture? I can just see myself going 'ok, everybody, line up, look this way ... smile' and click/flash... 'ok. we're done...' Wouldn't go over well, I fear...

April 27, 2009 12:39 PM  
Blogger Henri said...

Very, very clever. Never thought that it could be done like that!

July 05, 2010 12:07 PM  

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