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.

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X-Peditions is Back and Running!

Our X-Peditions program has returned, with two trips this fall to our workshop in Hanoi.

X-Peditions is not a lighting workshop, but rather an immersive 8-day experience in learning how to think more like a photojournalist. As a setting for X-Peditions, we choose some of the world's coolest cities. (Because why would you not do that?)

If you'd like to learn more about our X-Peditions program, or get on the list for advance notice for upcoming workshops, please visit our sister site at

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Conservancy Critters

A single-speedlight animal shoot, and an encouragement for you to adopt a local organization as a photographer.

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Lighting with flash can give you more than just the ability to control the quality of your light. With the inherent consistency of light from (manual) flash, you can layer in slices of time as well.

But first, you’ll want to lock down two things: the ambient light portion of your exposure, and your camera’s physical position.

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Fill in the Blanks

Using light to bridge the gap between the way our eyes and cameras see.

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A Garden of Ideas

At first glance: a simple, one-light portrait of activist gardener Janssen Evelyn.

Dig deeper: a look at tonal mapping via specular highlights, stretching the range of your modestly powered flash, and how to discover your next project.

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Shooting Through Your Sunset

Whenever you have control over the time of day in which you'll be shooting a location portrait, always remember that the hour that wraps around sunset will offer you at least five different lighting environments in which to work.

And for today's portrait of birders Jo (left) and Bob Solem, we're going to use three of them.

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Planting Rice at Sunrise

Seeing as no one is doing much traveling these days, I thought it'd be fun to pay a visit with a Strobist reader photographing somewhere far away.

Up for a little Lighting Cookbook field trip to Indonesia? Yeah? Then let's go...

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[COVID Diaries] Two-Light Bike for the Bucks

Turns out there's like, a huge bike shortage right now. Everyone's trapped at home. Everyone wants a bike. And the stores are all but sold out.

Which means that if you have a good bike sitting in the garage that you don't need, it's worth much more right now than it likely ever will be again.

Here's how to photograph it with a pair of speedlights to make it look great in your ad — and help you get top dollar.

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The "Magic" of Medium Format

How to get that lush medium format tonality, without shelling out the big bucks.

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Strobist's New Recommended Flash:
The Godox TT600

We've known for several months that the venerable LumoPro LP180 was to be discontinued. Fortunately, our new recommended speedlight is not only very capable, but also highly affordable.

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Red State, Blue State

To learn to create evocative light with flash, it helps to better understand how we experience the continuous light we see every day.

To do that, you'll need to wean yourself from auto white balance, and even to abandon familiar waypoints like your daylight WB preset. Because our goal is to learn to exist in a more fluid way along the Kelvin scale.

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Joker Cinematographer On Light & Color

Watching the movie Joker, I felt repeatedly that I was watching a film that Greg Heisler could have lit. The use of color was unique, sophisticated and fearless — almost a character unto itself.

In this outstanding 15-minute short produced by Vanity Fair, Joker cinematographer Larry Sher dissects his own use of light and color in the movie.

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Left Brain / Right Brain

Are you right-brained, or left-brained? Do you even know what that means?

And honestly, if you are a photographer you probably need to be both.

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Strobist Small-Class Lighting Workshops

Think you might be interested in one of Strobist's small-class lighting workshops? This interest list is the way you find out when one will be happening.

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Using Google Maps as a Visa for Photography

Using Google Maps as an entré to meet new subjects, and improvising with a skeleton pack of lighting equipment.

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BTS | 360: Mexican Sodas

You do something long enough, you'll eventually learn the little things you can do to help interesting stuff happen. One thing I have learned is this phrase:

"I'm a photographer. What can I do to help you?"

Just something as simple as that opens up all kinds of doors and possibilities. This week, it's how I ended up shooting Mexican sodas on a table-top studio in my basement.

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Compressing Tonal Range with Specular Highlights

White marble, dark chocolate, one light source. Problem?

Not at all. Because pretty much everything you can actually see across the top of that box is not really the "correct" tonality of the chocolate. It's all specular highlights.

Controlling the density of specular highlights is what compresses the subject's wide tonal range and unifies everything into one smooth exposure.

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Lighting Notebook: Journalist Hope Kahn

Using elements from L101, L102 and L103 in a simple corner portrait.

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Pencil-Light, Literally

It was a senior/graduation photo, which called for the gratuitous backyard soft box shot. Having done that, we then moved indoors for something more in his natural habitat.

The lighting was courtesy one on-camera flash, and the lead from a mechanical pencil.

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Godox AD200: An Amazing Flash—
If You Tweak it a Little

At $299, the 200 watt-second Godox AD200 is incomplete. At $366, with two key accessories, it is a steal.

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13 Years: A Baker's Dozen of Key Ideas

Thirteen years ago this month, launched with a cutting edge design (heh) and a novel mission (at the time) to be a free source of education for small flash lighting techniques.

Today, a triskaideka-appropriate post: thirteen of the most important principles I have learned related to lighting.

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Chocolate Box Studio

My brand new studio features hardwood floors and a seamless, backlit ceiling as its primary light source.

Sadly, like many studios, this one is a little on the small side: it measures exactly one cubic foot. But that's fine, as this workspace was designed specifically for one subject: chocolates.

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Small, Fast and Powerful

Much like a welterweight fighter, a leaf-shuttered camera and a speedlight in a mini softbox throws a punch that is much harder than you'd expect. Even outdoors, in midday light.

Case in point, these portraits of Cuban boxer Osmany Barcelay.

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Living in the In-Between

Our eyes are wonderful devices. They are autofocus, auto-zoom, autoexposure, and (to a large degree) auto white balance. Our cameras, on the other hand, see things more objectively.

Today, how to finesse that difference when adding light.

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Thank You [BTS/360]

In this Lighting Cookbook installment, something different: An in-depth BTS/360 look at both the how and the ecosystem behind a photo.

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Opportunity Knocks

As Halloween approaches, a timely story about a little prank available to any lighting photographer. All you need is a remote flash trigger, a clueless friend and the maturity level of a 12-year-old.

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Use a Tight Grid to Create Color

That grid spot isn't just good for the tight zone of light it creates. It's also very useful for the unlit space it leaves behind.

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Cheap, Portable Outdoor Lighting Source

No matter how long you have been doing something, be it lighting or photography or, well, anything, you're never too old to be dumbstruck by a cool new idea.

Take the linens drying on the line above, for example. In the right frame of mind they are essentially super-portable outdoor light sources.

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How to Choose a Softbox for your Speedlights

The photo above, of photographer Ray Alvareztorres, by Brent Christensen, shows the control you can get with a single softbox as opposed to an umbrella.

Today in Strobist Lighting Cookbook we'll discuss how to choose from the many different softboxes out there, how to best adapt them to speedlights, and how to save money in the process.

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Use Your Second Light to Hide Your First Light

Using one light against sunset (or dusk) leaves very deep shadows on your subject. A second light can make your subject look less "lit" by making the shadows look more like the way your eye naturally perceives them in a contrasty ambient environment.

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Off-Label Compact Lighting Bag: $23

At $23 shipped—and available in 30 colors and patterns—the perfect bag for compact lighting gear, technically speaking, isn't even a photo bag.

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A Manual Flash Hack for Sunset

Using manual flash against a fast-moving sunset or dusk environment can be daunting. Here's how to hack it.

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Shiny Object, No Flash, Smartphone

The more you understand light, the less important your gear.

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DIY Portable Doorway

Ultimate wrap: How to build a $20 DIY portable doorway.

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Need More Edge? Point Your Light Away From Your Subject

Two photos. Same light source and background, different direction.

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Flash or Continuous, Light is Light

Learning to be more fluid as you move between flash and ambient.

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One Light, Inside the Frame

Fun fact: this was the very first-ever photo published on Strobist. Twelve years later, we circle back for an updated look at the light-inside-the-frame approach.

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Two-Speedlight Daylight Group Shot

Three tricks to help you pull off a well-lit, large group shot in daylight with two speedlights.

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Own the Sun With Two Speedlights

Even in full-blown daylight, you can use two bare speedlights to craft some pretty sophisticated, sun-overpowering light. The key? Using gels, and very careful placement of your fill light.

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Outdoors? One Speedlight? Find Shade

For the first post in the "one light" section of the Strobist Lighting Cookbook, a solid tip for shooting outdoors when you have just one speedlight: find yourself some shade.

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Introducing the Strobist Lighting Cookbook

New for 2018, the Strobist Lighting Cookbook will grow into an organized and practical guide to help you get the most out of your flashes. For this module, it is assumed you already have read Lighting 101, 102 and 103.

Go to the Lighting Cookbook

Lighting 103 is Complete

Lighting 103, the latest addition to Strobist's comprehensive free lighting courses, is complete and posted. If you haven't started it yet, feel free to begin your dive down the white-light-is-a-lie rabbit hole at your leisure.

Go to Lighting 103

On Assignment: Alley Cat

Are you stuck in a rut with your lighting? Maybe your kids aren't up for another living room studio session. Or perhaps the family cat now quietly leaves the room when you show up with your camera.

You could always head outside, set up some lights, and see what you can catch. That's pretty much what Strobist reader Nayan Khanolkar did...

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Completely Updated: Lighting 102

Originally published in 2007, Lighting 102 has just been completely revised and updated.

Go To New Lighting 102

Updated: How to Choose an Umbrella

Shoot-through or reflective? Standard or double-fold? Baffled or plain?

All umbrellas are not the same—or even similarly priced. Knowing how you will use them will help you make the right call...

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Build a $10 Custom Wooden Backdrop Mount

Why just "A" clamp your backdrop to a crossbar when you can easily build an exposed wood mounting bar for chump change?

It's a very easy project, and it leaves you with a support you may well want to include in the frame...

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Fuji Crystal Archive Deep Matte Paper is Freaking Amazing

While visiting Fuji's headquarters in Japan in 2013 I saw prints that were better that anything I could get done here in the US.

Three years later, I found out how to get them done here, and where. Do yourself a favor and try this stuff out.

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On Assignment: Overpowering Sun with a Small Kit

Lighting outdoor portraiture doesn't have to mean gearing up like a pack mule. With a carefully chosen small kit, you can own the sun (and the wind) without breaking the bank.

This On Assignment piece walks you through each of the gear choices, and how they work together to help you efficiently control your environment.

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Watch This: The Secret(s) to Alexis Cuarezma's Success

Up for a quick shot of knowledge, with an order of motivation on the side?

Take a few minutes to watch this interview with photographer Alexis Cuarezma, a sports portrait specialist based in San Francisco and LA.

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On Assignment: Mum for Fuji

This On Assignment is a bit of a two-fer. On the one hand, it's a quick BTS on a one-light macro shot (seen above) for Fujifilm Japan with the new X-Pro 2.

But it's also a look into just how a flagship camera like the X-Pro 2 comes to be.

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Twitter QA: The Magic Lamp

Photo ©Mans Duffani

Strobist reader Mans Duffani reached out via Twitter to show off a photo (above) and ask how it could have been done better.

It's a lovely and storytelling portrait, which he shot of a relative who he noticed at a family event. I would have loved to have made the photo myself. That said, there's one suggestion that really jumps out at me...

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Introducing The Photographer's Oil Collective

POC Oil Painting by Zhixing Zhang from a Photo by Alex Mazurov

Look closely: that's not a photo. It's an oil painting. Through Strobist's sister site, Photographer's Oil Collective, any photographer can produce museum-quality oil paintings of this caliber—either for themselves or for their clients.

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Remodeling? Think Like a Photographer

If you are remodeling a room, a few key decisions can make a lot of difference going forward. The shot above, for instance, is available light. If it looks like I put up a soft box, that's because I kinda did—two years earlier when we remodeled the room.

Inside, some quick thoughts on how to think like a photographer when you design the ambient lighting for a room.

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On Assignment: Studio in the Wild

Photo ©Jonny Armstrong

American photographer and research scientist Jonny Armstrong combines camera geekery, speedlights and his outdoor skills to make evocative portraits of wild animals in their natural habitats.

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QA: Killing Umbrella Reflections in a Cylindrical Aquarium

Reader Alison Carlino asks, via Twitter:

"How could I light posed formals in front of tank w/no umbrella reflection showing?"

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QA: Shooting Events Without TTL Flash

Reader Christopher Wharton has a flash-camera combo that will not work in TTL mode, so how he can shoot run-and-gun events?

Long forgotten in the age of TTL, this post explains how to use your flash's "automatic" mode.

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On Assignment: The Light You Don't See

This photo is 100% flash, 0% ambient. But it almost looks like the reverse. And for this portrait of soprano Robin Steitz, a timeless available-light look was what we were going for.

But when you are working with flash (a single speedlight) and controlling your light (a scrounged "fill blanket" from the couch) you can keep the best of both worlds of strobe and ambient.

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On the Road? Backup Without the Bulk-Up

I seldom review gadgets these days, but sometimes something is so useful that it's worth telling people about. Such is the case with the SD card-enabled Western Digital My Passport Wireless hard drive.

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Your Basic Lighting Kit: A Spin Around the Block

So the UPS guy just dropped your very first lighting kit at your front door. WHAT DO YOU DO NOW?

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On Assignment: I Got Rhythm

A cool little trick that forever changed the way I photograph dancers.

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On Assignment: Lighting Like Leo

In which we travel to London to serve as a lighting tech for a documentary. Our goal? Lighting for a photographic reproduction of the Mona Lisa.

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Inspiration: Atbin Eslami's Video Bio

Such a simple idea, and not so difficult to do—unless you count all of the self-inspection it will require. Iranian-born (now in Dubai) photographer Atbin Eslami's video-bio of herself first made me think, "that's really cool."

And second, "Why haven't I done that?"

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On Assignment: Ben Lurye

Who needs a studio when you have a bridge abutment? Today, we'll explore a few of its facades while making an actor's portrait.

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Gear: Choosing a Tripod

Little? Big? Aluminum? Carbon fiber? New? Used?

Three legs, many choices.

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On Assignment: Full-Sun Group Shot

Full walk-through: Using a leaf shutter and two battery-powered monoblocs to bend the sun to your will.

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On Assignment: Cellist Carolyn Rosinsky

Racing against encroaching dark and a string of thunderstorms to photograph a super-expensive cello with a super-cheap plastic lens....

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On Traveling With Your Camera

How I spent my year: traveling around the world for, to help you get the most out of your next trip...

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The Strobist Guide to Lighting Indoor Sports

Whether you have one light, two lights, three lights or four, here are some tips on how to best put them to use when photographing indoor sports.

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You Want This: Dan Winters' Road to Seeing

World-famous portraitist Dan Winters uncorks an epic tome that will serve as a road map for many an aspiring photographer.

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How To: Strip-Gel a Beauty Dish

Just what the headline says—yes, you can get perfect coverage for your beauty dish with just a small strip gel.

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Chokra-and-Awe: Loren Wohl Blasts Throught the Fog and Noise

Go behind the scenes with music photographer Loren Wohl to see how his beautifully backlit images were created.

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We All Screw Up. Don't Worry About It.
(A Confession)

Think you're the only one who uncorks the occasional burst of idiocy? Well then let me tell you a little story...

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For older posts, please see the Monthly Archives dropdown menu on the right sidebar.


New to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
Got a question? Hit me on Twitter: @Strobist
Have a passport? Join me in Hanoi: X-Peditions Location Workshops