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Rewind The Flash Bus: Now on Video

Above: Flash Bus Busted, Phoenix, AZ

This spring, for reasons still largely unknown to the logical side of my brain, I signed on to a 42-day, 12,531 mile road trip.

It was not a decision taken lightly. On the one hand, we'd be getting up at oh-dark-thirty every morning after sleeping in a coffin-sized bunk on a moving bus. On the other hand, I'd get to hang out up-close-and-personal with one of the true legends of the photographic community. I am speaking of course of McNally's first assistant, Drew Gurian.

On April 6th, we pulled into the Pennsylvania Convention center in Philadelphia. By then we pretty much had our stuff together, and the bad jokes weren't getting any better. So we figured we should film it.

Announcing The Flash Bus on Video

As of today, The Flash Bus is available on video either as a physical DVD set or as an instant download ($99.95, either version). The boxed set is two DVDs which between them contain 5 hours of content. The download version is approximately 12,000,000,000 seemingly random bit of ones and zeroes which together comprise the ~1.5GB file.

The former is a standard DVD set, designed to play either on a DVD player on your TV, or on a computer. The latter is designed to be played on your computer or iPod®/iPhone®/Android®/whatever portable device. It is compressed for download and device portability, and can can be dragged to your device all at once or in sections. So in theory you could be learning from The Flash Bus while you are commuting or The Utterly Normal Bus. Plus, it will hopefully alleviate any issues of ordering DVDs from a foreign land only to spend three years waiting for shipping only to pay the price of a small car in customs duties.

To be clear, this is probably not something one puts on one's Christmas list. It tends to evoke spousal responses such as, "Wait, didn't you go see them? Can't you just remember everything you learned that day?"

This is more akin to the quiet nod to oneself, devoid of explanation -- not unlike the McNulty-esque bottle of Jameson, or an impossible-to-defend new SB-910. Not to worry. Your spouse does this, too.

And obviously, we weren't able to take the bus everywhere, mostly owing to the logistical problems of driving buses across large bodies of water. So this was also a nod to overseas folks, too.

So What's On It?

I can only speak to my session. That's because I spent the afternoon in Philly in the green room having an extended period of quality time with a rather large cheesesteak sub. I don't remember much on the day after that. But I'm told McNally spent the afternoon shooting live and praying to the flash gods that his TTL would not leave him stranded.

Those of you who came out (and feel free to inform others on what to expect in the comments) know that the morning was a progressive discussion on the use of multiple, manual flash in pretty much any kind of environment:

As examples we did very detailed walk-thrus and discussion on the shoots you see above. They make use of light-by-light progressions, leaving the mistakes in as they happen -- along with subsequent fixes. And we went off the tracks for some side trips, too. The overall goal was to dispel any intimidation about using any number of flashes in any ambient environment, and to do this before we headed to lunch. Everything in the morning was speedlight-based with emphasis on having a game plan that can allow you to work through any problem a location can throw at you.

And for those who asked, there is a tour of the bus itself featuring the trying-very-hard-to-act-sober crew member Mike Grippi.

Side note: Our actual bus was previously inhabited by The Insane Clown Posse. There were quick questions to the driver from in-the-know crew members about "Who from ICP had slept in which bunk" and "Can I get a different bunk," etc. I remained blissfully ignorant.

Lessons Learned

First of all, understand that I got to see McNally's presentation a couple dozen times. Which means that I now possibly know more than anyone else in the world about TTL flash -- with one notable exception, of course. It's kinda like having a whole new set of cameras now.

But I also learned how to sleep on a bus. My friend David Bergman, who knows a heck of a lot about touring, advised me to go for a bottom bunk and to always sleep feet first. This is because (a) you want to minimize the swaying, and (b) in the event of an accident you want to break our ankles rather than your neck.

In that regard Phil, our bus driver, had a very succinct warning: "If you ever see me running quickly toward the back of the bus, brace for impact."

Also, if anyone woulda told me five years ago that one day I would be traveling in a tour bus with Joe McNally, I woulda told them that they were nuts.

And if anyone woulda told me five years ago that one day, I would suddenly and unexpectedly find myself in my underwear, sharing a bed with McNally, I woulda punched 'em in the mouf.

Suffice to say you never know what turns life has in store for you. Especially an unexpected hard left-hand turn by a bus, resulting in the above. After that, I slept in full clothing.

Lastly, I learned not to ever, ever do a speaking engagement in which yourself and the entire crew are under the potentially extreme influence of a box of maple-bacon-and-possibly-special-mushroom donuts from Voodoo Donuts in Portland. For a moment onstage, I could not remember my own name.

From Joe, myself and the whole TFB crew, we hope you enjoy the video version of The Flash Bus.

:: DVD Boxed Version ::
:: Instant Download ::


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