When I completed Strobist as a project in 2021, I promised to check back in when I had something worth sharing. Today, I’m announcing my new book, The Traveling Photographer’s Manifesto, which seeks to do for traveling photographers what Strobist always tried to do for lighting photographers.

Thanks for giving it a look—and for your comments and feedback.

Stealing Your Flash

Seth asks:

I just have one question that's always sort of nagged the back of my mind.

I get the idea of the setup in the bleachers, clamped on something like a railing. But, my concern is - what about people fiddling with (moving, adjusting) or even worse, STEALING, your stuff. I mean, I guess there's really no way to prevent that from happening right?


Ah, but we are not totally defenseless in such situations, Seth. A brief word from the PsyOps division, inside…

First of all, yes, I do frequently clamp my flashes within reach of John Q. Public at high school basketball games, for instance. Or at least I did, as I have not had to shoot prep hoops for a few years now. But I have done it dozens (if not hundreds) of times without any lost gear.

If I am in a semi-public spot (like on a railing that is not immediately adjacent to seating) I will just use some caution tape around the setup. People tend to respect that. But if you are literally putting the flash right next to where people are sitting, you'll probably want to ratchet up the fear factor a bit.

You have to remember that people are not used to seeing, say, an SB-800 with a PW clamped to a railing/conduit/etc. at a sporting event. So it does look a little different. And some of them may well be thinking, "Wonder what the guy at the pawn shop will give me for one of these?

So in dicey locations, I used to work with a little sign on each of my flashes that said:


I stuck a little skull-and-crossbones (the universal symbol for free entry into this year's Darwin Awards) in there, too. All in all, a pretty ominous if exaggerated presentation. And who's to say a charged SB might not be fatal if you, say, licked the capacitor inside, amirite?

The point is to leverage something they do not completely understand with a nagging, unquantified fear of death. And it actually works pretty well!

In fact, if people are starting to sit around the flash when I am setting it up (or giving a quick adjustment right before the game) I will casually mention that they should be careful around this stuff. Just a smile, with a friendly tip. Then maybe make direct eye contact with the person you think could most likely be a problem and say something like, "Oh yeah -- these things can kill you if you grab them wrong…"

At this point, most people will actually begin skootch away from them a little bit. And you can see them wondering why some idiot would put something so dangerous within reach of the public. Sometimes they'll even point it out to a security guard. In which case you simply take him or her aside and explain the real deal.

And don't forget that if you see someone hanging out suspiciously around your flash, you have a remote in your hand and can seriously play with them that way, too.

Just sayin'.

In fact, the occasional manual pop during the game's down time can remind people with sticky fingers that the flashes are being used constantly -- and would be missed immediately.

For the Walk Back

Another thing that we were always aware of was the odd person who might scout you out and follow the 4- or 5-digit purse-on-legs back towards your car. One thing I always used to do for those iffy late night walks back to the car was to sling everything over my shoulder except for two items, in the small chance I would get jumped.

In my left hand, a fully-charged SB, set to 1/1 power and zoomed out. Thumb on the test button too. In my right hand, a heavy Gitzo monopod, strapped onto my wrist and hand on the grip.

Basic strategy:

1. ***POP***

2. Whoppity, whoppity, whoppity, whoppity...

3. Rinse and repeat as needed.

Never had to use it, but it always made me feel a little more like Joe Don Baker when I needed it.


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