Model Shoot This Weekend. Strobe Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by theenigmat, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. theenigmat macrumors member

    May 10, 2006
    This Friday, I'm shooting some modeling shots for a friend so that she can use them in a few publications. We have decided the locations where we want to shoot and I'll be scoping them out this week, getting a feel for the light and where the shadows fall during the time we'll be shooting (about 2 PM EST to 7 PM EST).

    I only have one strobe, a 430EX, and am concerned that I won't be able to fill in shadows well enough or get the precise lighting I want with the single strobe. I have an off-camera cord for the strobe so that offers me a bit more flexibility.

    My question is this: Aside from buying a 580EX II, is there a "cheap" ($50-$100) way to rig up either a) a way to move my 430EX off the camera as a side fill or b) a secondary light source that could function as side fill. I'm really looking for a nifty DIY (Do-It-Yourself) solution that is inventive and doesn't require me buying an expensive piece of gear.


  2. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
    Renting gear for occasional use will be way more affordable (and way better quality) then buying another tiny camera flash. If you really want to go cheap, but be able to get the flash far away, you may be able to rent a 580 or the remote control so you can use your 430 wirelessly. If you don't have ethical issues, you can probably even buy and return something the next day.
  3. PkennethV macrumors 6502a

    Aug 16, 2006
    Or if you have a friend that has an SB 800 or 900 (nikon), you could put those in SU-4 mode where they can be wireless triggered by any flash including your 430ex.
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Yes but the SB800/900 is only half the setup. You'll need a soft-box or two. You would not want to aim an SB800 directly.

    Best to rent some studio lights.
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    OK, aside from renting, get a big piece of white foam core or cardboard and reflect the light. You will need a stand or person to hold the reflector. It needs to be about as large are the subject, maybe 3x4 feet for what you are doing.

    You can also buy cheap Vivitar 285 flash units. These run off 4 AA batteries and have a LOT of power. Connect that to low cost optical slaves. The slave and the flash would be under $100. I had a few of these I used with umbrells and a softbox.
    The Wein "peanut" slaves are not expensive.

    She is going to use these shots to potentially get work?? They have to be good as this is a very competitive field.
  6. theenigmat thread starter macrumors member

    May 10, 2006
    Thanks for the help guys!

    ChrisA: She is not using these to get a modeling contract or for a portfolio. They will be for a few different Christmas Cards that she wants to send to friends. The real beneficiary of this shoot is going to be me because I'm trying to structure this as if it were professional. By that I mean that I'm scoping out shoot locations both in the case of clear skies and in the case of rain. I'm also trying to get the best and most professional looking lighting possible with the gear I have and the budget stated.

    That being said, I'll likely pick up a couple of the Vivatars and a reflector or just fashion my own. I'm really using this as an opportunity to do a "dry run" of a professional shoot that I could actually charge money for in the future.
  7. jake-g macrumors member

    Feb 28, 2008
    No offense, but it sounds like you don't have much experience with portraiture or fashion photography. Don't expect to bring a couple strobes and a piece of foam board and have a productive shoot.

    If you friend is expecting to not get anything useful, you can use this as an opportunity to get some very valuable experience. If you friend is paying or expects results ask for an extension, get some practice under your belt, come prepared with the proper equipment, and read up as much as possible. Otherwise your model may get angry if you deliver poor results and not work with you again.

    There is absolutely no gear that will help you if you don't have the technique down.
  8. theenigmat thread starter macrumors member

    May 10, 2006
    Dude... Jake... Just because I didn't post my portfolio and brag about awards I've won or not won and link you all to my flickr doesn't give you any right to question my experience. That's just plain pretentious and rude.

    In case I didn't make it clear earlier, this is not for payment, but rather something my friend asked me to do and I'm trying to offer her the best experience possible. You may notice that my title to the post was "Strobe Advice Needed." I was looking for advice on bettering my lighting technique.

    I wasn't looking to be shot down or told to go hide under a rock lest I stretch my wings and not reach the standards that you seem to have set for everyone else.
  9. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    You don't seem to have read the thread. He fully intends to get some practice with his friend who simply needs some Christmas card shots. He came here for technical advice.
  10. jake-g macrumors member

    Feb 28, 2008
    Hey I'm sorry if I upset you, I misread and thought it was a paid shoot. In my opinion lighting is an integral part of fashion shoots and I was giving honest advice. I was never trying to knock you or your work.

    Check out strobist for some help.
  11. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020


    Apr 5, 2004
    Huntsville, AL
    I'd invest in the Canon wireless trigger. It's $200 (which hurts, at first), but it's worth every penny to keep your E-TTL controls and get that 430ex off-axis.
  12. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    It's infrared that triggers the flash, not just any light source like the SB-80DX and other slaves.

    ChrisA has the best advice so far. Grab a Vivatar and slave unit and go wild. And to somewhat agree with jake-g, you shouldn't even worry about getting any gear whatsoever. Just take what you have and work it as best you can. You will develop your own technique much better that way.

    Also, this is a good friend of mine's site who can help you a little bit with flash technique if you can spend the time shifting through his site. He also has a GREAT DEAL of DIY setups and work-a-rounds.
  13. theenigmat thread starter macrumors member

    May 10, 2006
    Thanks for all of the advice guys!


    Jake: Sorry for misinterpreting your response. Believe me, I am striving to get better in all aspects of my photography and would never want to do anything that I didn't think I was technically prepared for. I am just as frustrated as many aspiring photographers probably are by amateurs selling themselves as pros and cheapening good, lucrative photography jobs. (But that's a conversation for another thread.)

    ChrisA: I did order a Vivitar 285HV and a set of Cactus V2s wireless triggers to use it easily off camera. Thanks for that advice!

    Digital Skunk (and Jake): has become my new best friend over the last couple of weeks. I just discovered it recently but the Lighting 101 section is great to get you warmed up on flash photography and the examples are excellent.

    I've found some nifty DIY projects on and am in the process of constructing both a softbox and reflector unit to practice with before the shoot on Friday. I'm hoping that these relatively cheap projects (approx. $30 total) will add a nice touch to the photos and allow me to control the artificial and ambient light better.

    Thanks again for all the advice and I'll post shots on a new thread later next week.
  14. BMP84 macrumors regular


    Nov 1, 2008
    Chattanooga, TN

    there are a few really great options out there to build a off camera flash system. I would go remote. Don't go optical they are prone to miss fires and sometimes they just won't fire at all. Hit ebay up and look for any sunpak 522's, 544's, 555's if you really want some power. They can run on 6-AA batteries. Or my way rechargable cluster packs. They can easily under expose the ambient by 2-4 stops really popping your subject out. Then comes the remote part, search for some quantum radio slave II's. These are incredibly reliable triggers and very low power hogs. Powered by 1 9 volt batt. This is on of the cheapest ways to get into off camera flashes. Without loosing quality. They will screw right onto any tripod with standard screw. Search eBay or b&h for tripod umbrella mounts and now you can attach soft boxes and umbrellas. These may be old "out dated" slaves and flashes by age but work fine for beg-exp users.
  15. osin macrumors 6502

    Jun 8, 2008
    New Jersey

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