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Strobist for bouldering, what do I need?
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dlintz


Aug 27, 2008, 12:34 PM
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Strobist for bouldering, what do I need?
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I recently upgraded my old camera to a 40D and would like to have a setup geared for bouldering (outdoor and indoor). Admittedly flash photography is somewhat of a mystery to me right now but I like to learn. My requirements (not set in stone) are:

Off camera up to say 80 feet (wireless)
$300 or less
At least 2 strobes



I've waded through a lot of the Strobist site but there's so much there I'm kinda lost. My setup doesn't have to be "professional" (probably wouldn't be given my budget) but I'd like to buy reliable components. So, anyone have some advice? Thanks.

d.


wes_allen


Aug 27, 2008, 1:53 PM
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dlintz wrote:
I recently upgraded my old camera to a 40D and would like to have a setup geared for bouldering (outdoor and indoor). Admittedly flash photography is somewhat of a mystery to me right now but I like to learn. My requirements (not set in stone) are:

Off camera up to say 80 feet (wireless)
$300 or less
At least 2 strobes




I've waded through a lot of the Strobist site but there's so much there I'm kinda lost. My setup doesn't have to be "professional" (probably wouldn't be given my budget) but I'd like to buy reliable components. So, anyone have some advice? Thanks.

d.

I think you will have to look at the ebay pocket wizards and maybe some of the older metz or sigma flashes? Doesn't the strobist site have some ready to order kits? You can probably find a couple flashes for $100, and get a transmitter and two triggers and wires, etc. for the other 100. It will be full manual flash, but that isn't too hard to learn with some time.


wes_allen


Aug 27, 2008, 9:05 PM
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I know you are not looking to spend a whole lot, but this new dvd set is getting some really good feedback: http://www.onelightworkshop.com/DVD_Ordering.html

Not cheap at $275, but I will probably order it before the price goes up.


piton


Aug 28, 2008, 6:23 AM
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$275 for a dvd! ripoff.


wes_allen


Aug 28, 2008, 6:33 AM
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piton wrote:
$275 for a dvd! ripoff.

So much of a "rip off" that he is sold out of the first run already, and pro photographers have nothing but great stuff to say about it. I have looked at his classes, and they are pretty cool. Yes, strobist *might* have some of the same info, but I doubt it is presented nearly as well. Check out his site, and his flikr. Some pretty cool work. And, for a pro, 275 is just a part of one session's income.

And, I will be buying it, no doubt. Even though I already have some of the off camera stuff down, it still looks like a good deal to me.


dlintz


Aug 28, 2008, 9:13 AM
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I agree the price is a little steep for the DVD but as you said Wes the reviews are favorable...I've gotta think about that one.

As for ebay triggers and such, I've read a lot of opinions on those. While they would probably suit my needs I may just "buy nice instead of twice." I talked myself out of a 5D when I bought my 40D so maybe I'll just take the plunge on lighting. The Alien Bee kits look sweet.

d.


wes_allen


Aug 28, 2008, 10:31 AM
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Not cheap, no doubt. But, sometimes money spent on learning a new skill is worth while.

I love my White Lighting gear, but if you are looking to be more portable then a couple of speedlights will get you going pretty well. Or even, a couple of older nikon flashes, since they already have the pc cord port. Add a couple good radio triggers and you are set for manual flash action. Use the canon flashes with radio poppers, and you get ettl as well as manual, but plan on spending closer to $1,000.00 for that.

There are a lot of cool newer wireless triggers out there, so while PW are still the gold standard, there are others that work well. A little bit of time on some of the photo message boards should help you pick as well.


Paul_Y


Aug 28, 2008, 4:28 PM
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d-
Regarding the Strobist site. I started to follow it before it became confusing for a new comer to navigate. Basically the "Lighting 101" and the "On Assignment" links will teach you what gear you need to start shooting with an off-camera flash (on a shoe string budget), and how to use a small portable flash (usually one) to get some cool lighting.

It's fun to look through the "On Assignment" links till you see something you like and then you can read to see how it was done. Then go out and try it. It is surprisingly simple to get results that you'll like.

Paul


blitz933


Sep 15, 2008, 7:23 AM
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Not to be a naysayer, but why exactly do you want to spend all this money on flashes? Generally, one does the trick just fine!

I use a Nikon system (D300, SB-800 and several lenses) thats directly comparable to the 40D, and other than fill flash in daylight, you really don't need flash at all. The newer generation of digital handles higher ISO's so well, I can't tell the difference at 100% in photoshop (or Capture NX) between ISO 100 and 400, I only *start* to see *any* noise at ISO 800. The 12mp shots coming out of your camera, if printed 1:1 would be about 40 inches wide, the largest you'll probably ever print any shot you make is a dual page spread in Rock& Ice or a similar mag, which is only about 26in wide (I don't have a ruler handy to measure the magazine, but I'd bet 12-13 inches). Shoot Large+Fine .jpg or RAW, buff it out w/ noise ninja or a similar plugin, sharpen and adjust your color if you want to, then post/publish your shots!

With the Nikon flash system, and I think Canon's works similarly, I can leave the SB-800 on camera, or take it off and switch the camera to master mode, use it's built-in flash to wirelessly trigger the SB-800 from wherever it's perched (don't worry about fancy clamps and stuff, just have a buddy hold it! There's always extra people around resting, and it's a pain mounting a flash anywhere on-site unless your setting up for a very specific shot). With just two flashes, neither being very powerful, I've never had a problem shooting anything out to maybe 35ft (if your shooting farther away than that, your going to need some *serious* batteries to power your portable flashes anyway. I'd complain about just carrying a few mid-size strobes, not to mention a couple of car batteries to the crag . . . And besides, why not get closer? If anything use an ultra-wide lens and get super close! The change in perspective can be very cool).

Besides, do you really want to carry all that flash gear to the crag anyway? I already carry a body, lens, spare battery and extra CF card or two, a few filters, 1-2 extra lenses and one flash when I go out shooting (anything really, not just climbing). Plus whatever climbing gear I'm actually using . . .

If I were you, I'd put the $300 towards a removable flash that can be triggered by the on-camera one (Strobist links to a few early on in the Lighting 101 series), then spend the rest on some faster, pro level glass.

I'm not *positive* about canon lenses, but I believe they have a few fast f/1.4 or f/1.8 lenses in the 35-85mm range that aren't that expensive. Pick whichever one works for the range you want to shoot at (remember the crop factor, 1.3 or 1.6 for low/mid Canon digital cameras) and one flash should *more* than do the trick (the larger your aperture, the more light your letting in, so the less the flash has to work).

See here: http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/flash.htm and http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/syncspeed.htm. Some of that info is Nikon-specific, but a lot of it applies to any flash, regardless of brand. There's also links to reviews of older Nikon flashes at the bottom of the first page that might be perfect for you with a remote trigger.


dlintz


Sep 15, 2008, 9:45 PM
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blitz,

You've made some good points and I appreciate that. For now I probably don't need more than one flash especially for my primary interest (bouldering photography). Realistically I don't really have a budget, if I wanted to shell out 2K on a dream setup I could. The thing is I don't have much flash photography experience and was looking for other's opinions on what to start out with.

As for glass I own a Canon 10-22mm (non L but a nice lens) for those wider perspectives you mentioned. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with it. I also have a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 which is what I've used for most of my indoor shots so far. An 85 f/1.8 will probably be my next lens purchase.

Again thanks for your opinion. I'll keep that in mind as I agonize over what to buy next. Wink

d.


kriso9tails


Sep 16, 2008, 2:37 PM
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blitz933 wrote:
The 12mp shots coming out of your camera, if printed 1:1 would be about 40 inches wide, the largest you'll probably ever print any shot you make is a dual page spread in Rock& Ice or a similar mag, which is only about 26in wide (I don't have a ruler handy to measure the magazine, but I'd bet 12-13 inches). Shoot Large+Fine .jpg or RAW, buff it out w/ noise ninja or a similar plugin, sharpen and adjust your color if you want to, then post/publish your shots!

I can't speak for all publications, but most catalogs I'm aware of print at 300-350 dpi. Some magazines put it in their specifications that they want the final image at 300 dpi, so I'm going to go ahead and assume that it's fairly standard for them as well. From a D300, if I'm not mistaken, you're looking at roughly 14" x 9.5" at that resolution, which is a full page plus bleed and room to crop. To print a two page spread you'd need print at (very roughly off the top of my head) 110 - 120% of the original size.

Perhaps what I've said should be taken with a grain of salt, but I feel like your measures are off there. Not that it really matters.


blitz933


Sep 19, 2008, 10:30 AM
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Not being overly technical about it, a 12mp picture printed at 300dpi would be about 14x9.5 inches. Given that many of the images printed in Rock&Ice, Alpinist, and elsewhere are shot with digital cameras, and they use some of those images in two-page spreads (which don't obviously look worse than the single page shots next to them, and they would if the single page was printed at 300dpi and the two-page was ~150dpi or 200%) I don't think they print at that high of a resolution.

This is a good read, and explains more about the subject:
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/mpmyth.htm

(can you tell I like Ken Rockwell?)

And I think I did the above math wrong anyway, because printers print in 3 colors (CMYK or RGB), so 300dpi (dots per inch) is equivelent to 100 ppi (or pixels per inch). So it takes 3 ink dots to approximate one pixel from your digital camera, because one 'pixel' from your camera contains all three colors (a single pixel on your cameras sesnsor is actually 2 green, 1 red and 1 blue sensors in a matrix. Ken has an article or two about camera sensors as well if your interestd in learning more about them).


Oh, and I apologize if I'm hijacking this thread, didn't mean to get so off topic . . .


Paul_Y


Sep 19, 2008, 9:27 PM
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Blitz933, could you post some of your pictures taken with your off/on camera flash system?
Thanks!


wes_allen


Sep 20, 2008, 11:39 AM
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Because you can do things with flashes that you can't come close to, even with the fastest primes and highest ISOs. Like these I took the other day. The first is without the flash - sky and the rock in the sun is exposed well, but the shadows are really deep. The second is with the on camera master 580 and the off camera slave 580II on full power. Having another flash would have been nice, if not just for the extra power, but more for the faster recycle times. With outdoor climbing shots, you can never really take away light - your only option is to add light to balance the scene. Or wait for the "perfect" conditions, that may or may not ever happen. I think this problem is totally north facing, so you will have to shoot tight and loose the rest of the scene, wait for an overcast day and loose the blue skies, or bring some flashes to balance out the day light. These are not perfect examples, and much of the time, I only have the off camera flash fire.






A couple others...





and on with just on camera flash...


blitz933 wrote:
Not to be a naysayer, but why exactly do you want to spend all this money on flashes? Generally, one does the trick just fine!

I use a Nikon system (D300, SB-800 and several lenses) thats directly comparable to the 40D, and other than fill flash in daylight, you really don't need flash at all. The newer generation of digital handles higher ISO's so well, I can't tell the difference at 100% in photoshop (or Capture NX) between ISO 100 and 400, I only *start* to see *any* noise at ISO 800.

With the Nikon flash system, and I think Canon's works similarly, I can leave the SB-800 on camera, or take it off and switch the camera to master mode, use it's built-in flash to wirelessly trigger the SB-800 from wherever it's perched (don't worry about fancy clamps and stuff, just have a buddy hold it! There's always extra people around resting, and it's a pain mounting a flash anywhere on-site unless your setting up for a very specific shot). With just two flashes, neither being very powerful, I've never had a problem shooting anything out to maybe 35ft (if your shooting farther away than that, your going to need some *serious* batteries to power your portable flashes anyway. I'd complain about just carrying a few mid-size strobes, not to mention a couple of car batteries to the crag . . . And besides, why not get closer? If anything use an ultra-wide lens and get super close! The change in perspective can be very cool).

Besides, do you really want to carry all that flash gear to the crag anyway? I already carry a body, lens, spare battery and extra CF card or two, a few filters, 1-2 extra lenses and one flash when I go out shooting (anything really, not just climbing). Plus whatever climbing gear I'm actually using . . .

If I were you, I'd put the $300 towards a removable flash that can be triggered by the on-camera one (Strobist links to a few early on in the Lighting 101 series), then spend the rest on some faster, pro level glass.

I'm not *positive* about canon lenses, but I believe they have a few fast f/1.4 or f/1.8 lenses in the 35-85mm range that aren't that expensive. Pick whichever one works for the range you want to shoot at (remember the crop factor, 1.3 or 1.6 for low/mid Canon digital cameras) and one flash should *more* than do the trick (the larger your aperture, the more light your letting in, so the less the flash has to work).

See here: http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/flash.htm and http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/syncspeed.htm. Some of that info is Nikon-specific, but a lot of it applies to any flash, regardless of brand. There's also links to reviews of older Nikon flashes at the bottom of the first page that might be perfect for you with a remote trigger.


kriso9tails


Sep 20, 2008, 8:19 PM
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blitz933 wrote:
Not being overly technical about it, a 12mp picture printed at 300dpi would be about 14x9.5 inches.

As I said.

In reply to:
Given that many of the images printed in Rock&Ice, Alpinist, and elsewhere are shot with digital cameras, and they use some of those images in two-page spreads (which don't obviously look worse than the single page shots next to them, and they would if the single page was printed at 300dpi and the two-page was ~150dpi or 200%) I don't think they print at that high of a resolution.

Actually, 300dpi (moving towards 350 it seems) is quite standard for such printing. Looking at the submission guidelines for 'Rock & Ice' and 'Climbing', it is clear that they both print at 300dpi.

While magazine sizes do vary, they pretty much all approximate 8"x10". A two page spread is approx. 16"x10" plus bleed, so enlargements from 10mp images shouldn't need to exceed 140% - 150% at the most. Again, I'm running numbers in my head, so it's pretty rough. This is not a dramatic enlargement if done properly and since magazine quality printing isn't exactly the greatest to begin with, any quality loss is less noticeable.

In reply to:
This is a good read, and explains more about the subject:
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/mpmyth.htm

Hmmm... well, Ken Rockwell is what he is. Despite the little 'copyright 2008' I'm pretty sure that article was written some time ago and is quite dated. I don't want to get into a long conversation on it, but his article is correct only in certain contexts; mostly personal and amateur photography. Once you enter the world of commercial photography, standards and requirements start to change (although many places seem to care less and less about quality and more and more about saving money).

Most of the commercial photographers I've assisted for or know of from when I lived in Toronto have long since been shooting medium format digital for a reason (not full frame though). Luckily, for my current job, it's not so necessary; however there are certainly situations where I'd have liked to be shooting on a P65+ (drool). Well, maybe that'd be a bit overkill, but still... it'd be nice aside from the file sizes.

In reply to:
And I think I did the above math wrong anyway, because printers print in 3 colors (CMYK or RGB), so 300dpi (dots per inch) is equivelent to 100 ppi (or pixels per inch). So it takes 3 ink dots to approximate one pixel from your digital camera, because one 'pixel' from your camera contains all three colors (a single pixel on your cameras sesnsor is actually 2 green, 1 red and 1 blue sensors in a matrix. Ken has an article or two about camera sensors as well if your interestd in learning more about them).


They are printing in CMYK. Even so, that's not how it works. If you print a 2400p x 3000p at 300dpi you will get an 8"x10". In many situations, if not most, the actual ppi assigned to the file is ignored by software and certain printers. If you are running on a large commercial press or your images is running through a layout design program like InDesign then it becomes important. I know the disigners at work aren't so happy if I let a file slide through at an alternate resolution.


In reply to:
Oh, and I apologize if I'm hijacking this thread, didn't mean to get so off topic . . .

Meh, it's teh intarweb; thread drift is inevitable.


dlintz


Sep 20, 2008, 9:17 PM
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Wes,

Thanks for posting those examples. That's the kind of composition and lighting I'm wanting to work towards. As I said originally I know little about off flash (or even on flash for that matter) photography. I'm looking forward to building my kit.

d.


wes_allen


Sep 22, 2008, 9:12 AM
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I used to be a *natural light only* photographer, because flash was so "unnatural" but after seeing the work of people who are really good, I decided that MY flash work was what was unnatural, so I started working on it more. Still not there yet, but once you get the feel of it, you can do some really cool things with flash. Just have to get over the fear/prejudice first.

Here is another angle of the first problem - the flash is more obvoious, and I didn't do very well with the sky exposure...




WaldoGeraldo


Sep 22, 2008, 9:20 AM
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Hi,
i used two flashes for this shot:


One left in front of the climber and one right next ot him. Also I used a ct_orange filters.

ciao Michael


(This post was edited by WaldoGeraldo on Sep 22, 2008, 9:23 AM)


the_alpine


Sep 22, 2008, 10:30 AM
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Since we are still talking PHOTOGRAPHY here, I suggest something far more basic yet worlds more important(and difficult): captivating subject matter. Somehow, a large proportion of the climbing photography enthusiasts/amateurs/pro's/semi-pro's whatever ya wanna call 'em have become so enamored with the whole off-camera flash/flash overpowering daylight/night-time flash bs that the fundamentals of a compelling image have fallen to the wayside.

Flashes are just one set of wrenches in a mechanics garage.

Dial in the basics baby!


JoshCaple


Sep 22, 2008, 11:06 PM
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I couldn't agree more, flashes are a fantastic tool but I'd encourage people to focus on the basics of composition and exposure and using available light.
Flashes can, if used well & in the right circumstances, make a good photo great. FAR more often I see them used to make bad photos worse.


wes_allen


Oct 15, 2008, 10:14 PM
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I think he is still giving the intro price, like 225. I just received mine tonight, and watched both DVD's, seems like a good value to me. You should know camera basics, how to use full manual, etc, and something about off camera lights, but he does take you through the basics pretty well. He basically uses strobist style lighting, and goes into how to actually light people with real shoots. While the subjects are bands and models, it should translate pretty well to bouldering. He is all about one light, simple setups, and not a whole lot of $$$ on the gear. So, if you want a bit of help, without paying for a class/workshop, I would give it a look. Just reading the little mini book that came with it is pretty cool and a bit inspiring.



wes_allen wrote:
piton wrote:
$275 for a dvd! ripoff.

So much of a "rip off" that he is sold out of the first run already, and pro photographers have nothing but great stuff to say about it. I have looked at his classes, and they are pretty cool. Yes, strobist *might* have some of the same info, but I doubt it is presented nearly as well. Check out his site, and his flikr. Some pretty cool work. And, for a pro, 275 is just a part of one session's income.

And, I will be buying it, no doubt. Even though I already have some of the off camera stuff down, it still looks like a good deal to me.


Paul_Y


Oct 17, 2008, 4:45 PM
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Michael.
In reply to:
One left in front of the climber and one right next ot him. Also I used a ct_orange filters

Nice shot! Your color looks pretty neutral to me. Did you set white balance to tungsten when you used the CTO's?

Thanks,
Paul


krillen


Nov 3, 2008, 12:02 PM
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With multiple off camera light sources you are able to light different aspects of your compositions at different rates. i.e. - Hair lights, soft face lighting while a large flash spread flash backgrounds etc. Yes it's another tool in the tool box an shouldn't be depended on exclusively however it does give you more control when/if you do decide to use it.

Even using the basics, and fast lenses, you are often shooting spots where the mismatch in ambient and direct lighting is HUGE. Forested areas, or shadowed areas (as in Wes' example) often leave you underexposing features or blowing out the skies, but with the proper use of flash you can combat this. AS is stressed above, don't become a one-trick-pony, use the flashes when needed, or when you want a specific effect, but don't depend exclusively.

I'm sure there are ways to get your desired setup, but ultimately you'll probably be more content if you do ti right the first time. Get some nice Canon flashes ( 430EX's should do the trick, but you are looking at ~$300 a piece after tax)and do some research to see which remote triggers work best with the equipment you have.


(This post was edited by krillen on Nov 3, 2008, 12:06 PM)


Forums : Climbing Disciplines : Climbing Photography

 


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