ANNOUNCEMENT: Please Join us in Hanoi This Fall!

Our Fall 2022 X-Peditions travel photography workshops, based in Hanoi, Vietnam, have opened for enrollment.
There are currently 4 spots remaining between the two sessions. Full details at our Fall 2022 program page.

Flash The Bus

So we find out a few days before the TFB_Austin stop that we might actually be able to park the bus inside the venue if we were interested.

(Um, heck yeah, we're interested…)

Within about 5 seconds, it was decided that McNally would light and shoot it as part of the afternoon class. And I knew that Mr. Heinz 57 Speedlights would come up with something typically cool. But I wanted to grab it guerilla-style, before heading off to lunch, so I could have a souvy pic for myself.

Him: 19 cases of gear -- 1,000 pounds worth.
Me: Traveling light: 1 Nikon D7000, a 12-24 and a couple of SB-800s -- no stands, no mods.

Given that, I was happy with the ~3-min, lower-impact bus shot I got during the break. Keep reading for the "McNally wanna-be-on-the-cheap" version, and a link to the Real McCoy…

First, gear limitations: With the room's ambient, my pop-up flash and 2 SB's, I had a total of four light sources. That's one less than I needed for this bare-bones shot. So I scrounged another SB from attendee for the extra light. Stone soup, right?

Here is the diagram:

Remember, you are not lighting the full, 3d object. You are painting three planes with hard light: Bus side, bus front, and background.

All of my flashes went right on the floor. No stands (or VALs) were used. I just laid them down and angled them up to feather the light off of the floor and avoid hot spots. The first light was placed perpendicular to the bus's side panel, and zoomed to fit that panel. Pretty sure it was on 1/4 power.

Similarly, I aimed a zoomed flash (@ 1/8 power) on the floor at the front, from a perpendicular angle (meaning, directly into the front of the bus.) This would kill most of my reflections if I shot on the diagonal. I still got some hot spots on the bumpers near the corners.

The borrowed flash (SB-900, I think) was placed behind the bus and angled up at the wall. In retrospect, I could have used an extra stop out of that one for more separation. But I was moving pretty fast. Don't think too well when I am late for lunch.

The (small chip) Nikon D7000 and 12-24 was placed on the polished concrete floor to use the reflection. I used the pop-up flash on very low power to fire off the SBs in SU-4 slave mode. It made the floor way too hot in front of the camera, so I stuck my hand under the bottom of the pop-up to gobo off the floor. The slaved flashes still tripped.

Even though we could not see the back light, it cascaded off of the flash which was lighting the front of the bus. SU-4 mode in a Nikon flash is very sensitive -- never got one single misfire. I like the photo, considering it was pretty much a quickie scrounged snapshot.

And With a Little More Gear...

Of course, Joe was having none of that. ("Bring me ALL of the speedlights, boys…") Plus, he borrowed several from the crowd -- and some VALs to aim them, of course.

I am just stealing his flash pops with a timed, 6-sec exposure here after guessing the aperture and ISO. To see what he did with a few more lights and a few minutes' time, check out his post. (It's also a pretty accurate look into what it is like to tour in a 55-foot dutch oven...)

East-Bound and Down

The Flash Bus is currently patrolling the MidAtlantic region, headed to the Northeast and onward. We are having way too much fun, and meeting lots of cool folks.

If you are near a city with seats left, c'mon down. If your city is sold out (many from the second half are) usually some seats become available a couple days before the date.

I can promise you a full day of fun -- and a firehose of information. Long pants, I cannot promise. One has to draw the line somewhere. Hope to see you there...


New to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
Got a question? Hit me on Twitter: @Strobist
Grab your passport: Strobist Destination Workshops