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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Blogger junyo said...

The question is... will there be a FB 2 - Strobing Boogaloo?

December 12, 2011 2:37 PM  
Blogger Gus Samarco said...

It was nice to attend the Flash Bus and meeting you guys. Too bad you didn't get to ride on the Great White.

December 12, 2011 3:35 PM  
OpenID said...

Downloading right now! Thanks!!! I was unable to make the tour in person, this is sweet sassy molassy! :D

December 12, 2011 4:45 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

"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."
Completely useless parra without photos - Posting any? :-)

December 12, 2011 5:01 PM  
Blogger BRIAN BULEMORE said...

Huzzah for VooDoo doughnuts! That place is really special...particularly at 2:30 AM on weekends. You made a good choice...oh yeah, I'll probably buy this DVD. Thanks!

December 12, 2011 5:08 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Yeah, I might need to pick this up. Any shots of us VALs on the videos?

December 12, 2011 5:30 PM  
Blogger Ken Gray Photo said...

Well worth it. Bought it, watched it, loved it.

December 12, 2011 9:02 PM  
Blogger James Cooke said...

What a great picture?! Love the caricatures and strobe 'hadokens'!

December 13, 2011 9:25 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

It was awesome meeting David and Joe in person in Denver. Here's hoping they and Joe's many assistants enjoyed the Colorado beer!

December 13, 2011 10:02 AM  
Blogger MCM said...

"These are for you, McNulty. These are for you" -Deputy of Operations Rawls

December 13, 2011 12:56 PM  
Blogger GMoney Gibbs said...

Any discount for those of us that actually patd for the Tour the first time?

December 13, 2011 1:32 PM  
Blogger ROGER BARONE said...

WELL, ALL RIGHT! The FLASH BUS TOUR: LIVE FROM PHILLY...I was at that show! Got my ticket on the first day and didn't have to rely on scalpers.

Now, I can purchase it for posterity on DVD, just as I've obtained Rolling Stones' and Stephen Stills' shows from Philly..

WOW! Will there be signed limited-edition box sets with extras, take-outs, facsimile cheesesteaks and a Frank Rizzo billy club to use on anyone who tries to steal the set.

We'll also get to see the person who won several drawings.... and the massive group shot....Count me in!

I can't wait to here the quote of the decade again...Concluding the workshop with: "Now, how many of you are still impressed by the images you see in magazine." Great Line...Great Show...

roger barone: photosfromphilly

December 13, 2011 1:47 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

So if my questions from the stop in Philly are on the DVD do I get a discount? ;-) I am the guy who asked about the Satin Lanterns and using them in real estate photography.

December 13, 2011 2:16 PM  
Blogger Rogier said...

"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."

I'm not sure I believe the part about the underwear. Your wearing any, I mean.

December 13, 2011 2:23 PM  
Blogger David Bergman said...

David, thanks for the shout-out and I'm glad you survived the tour. But you forgot one more very important rule of tour buses that I shared with you: liquids only in the bathroom. Besides the fact that the so-called "plumbing" on a bus is primitive at best, your bus mates will thank you for waiting until you get to the next truck stop.

David Bergman

December 13, 2011 2:24 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


No, there will not.


What happens on The Flash Bus, stays on The Flash Bus.


VooDoo donuts are pretty insane. They should be sold by prescription.


Don't worry, we put black bars over their eyes to protect the people playing hookie from work.


Thanks for the kind words!


That very likely could be the same beer that, er, "influenced" the tour of the bus segment. Enjoyed, indeed. Many thanks.

@GMoney; Michael-

I think it is one-price-fits-all.


No, there will not.


Again, what happens on The Flash Bus, stays on the flash bus.


Yeah, I actually wrote a paragraph about that and had the good sense to edit it out before pressing the "publish" button. Suffice to say, what happens on The Flash Bus -- or just off of The Flash Bus at 3:00am in rural Wisconsin -- stays on The Flash Bus. And to our driver, Phil, your hush money is in the mail.

December 13, 2011 2:45 PM  
Blogger As Seen by Janine said...

Speaking as one who made it to the Tour in Denver AND took an entire notebook of notes, I still found myself wishing for a way to recapture more of what I saw and heard that day. I was thrilled to see the movie available & did not even consider putting it on a Christmas Wish List; I just bought it.
Janine Fugere
"As Seen by Janine"

December 13, 2011 4:57 PM  
Blogger bmillios said...

Please tell me this is subtitled?!?

December 13, 2011 9:52 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Alas, it is not. Apologies. With the costs of a production crew in two cities -- and having to deal with all of the union stuff in Philly (we had to hire a union guy* to sit next to every man in the crew and do nothing) it came down to budget.


*And don't even get me started on the $600 extension cord ($25 to buy at Home Depot) we had to rent from them.

December 13, 2011 10:06 PM  
Blogger Chris (veggie2u) said...

I laughed all the way through this post, just as I did through the actual day. If you couldn't attend you really owe it to yourself to get the DVDs.

December 15, 2011 9:49 AM  
Blogger R Young said...

Caught the Flashbus tour - throughly enjoyed it - just finished downloading the video - plan on throughly enjoying it, too!


December 17, 2011 3:18 PM  
Blogger Teej said...

Unfortunately, for us deaf folks, we will be unable to pursue yet another video to help us further our skills as photographers. Isn't there at least a transcript available?

December 26, 2011 1:34 AM  
Blogger gavz said...

Thanks again for another quality production. These just get better and better! Keep up the great work - and thanks for providing a downloadable version for those in foreign countries!

December 26, 2011 3:49 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Yes, I am sorry. It was already expensive to get a film crew to two sites (one for backup, which we ended up using.) The transcription/encoding would have pushed us out of budget.

Don;t understand the "yet another" part. The Strobist seminar DVDs and the Lighting in Layers download version are available with subtitles.


December 26, 2011 11:29 AM  
Blogger Joshua said...

Dave, if you send me a copy of the DVD or download I'll get it transcribed for you :-)

Don't know if it would be of use since the DVD has already been published, but the download version could be updated I guess.


December 27, 2011 4:43 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Many thanks, but this is not solely my project. There were several parties involved and that call was made as part of the budgeting process. (There would also be more post production involved in marrying the subs to the video, DVD or DL version alike.)

But thanks for your offer, all the same.


December 27, 2011 11:19 AM  

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