Thursday, August 14, 2008

Nikon SB-600 Speedlight

On the advice of a good friend and fellow photographer, Don Lupo, I've been spending some time learning more about lighting. Don's point has always been that while my "available light" shots have been pretty good, adding some lighting could really help make them even better. I've been on the fence for a while, because my philosophy has always been to bring less gear and to capture moments "in the raw." All the commercial shoots I've been to, the photographer has so much lighting gear that he/she needs 1 or 2 assistants, a stylist, etc - but for me I want to keep it simple and just shoot.

But I try to tell myself I'm an open minded guy, so going on Don's advice, I've been spending a lot of time lately reading David Hobby's blog - The Strobist approach is a middle-ground if you will, a way to do professional lighting with "speedlight" standard flash units - not huge studio lights. The more I've been reading, the more interested I've gotten.

So I made the jump - I forked over some moolah (thanks a lot Nikon for making this an expensive hobby...) and picked up a Nikon SB-600 Speedlight as my first strobe.

The SB-600 is Nikon's middle flash unit - the SB-800 (or the new SB-900) is the high end, and the SB-400 is the low end. All of the above work together with Nikon's proprietary lighting software called CLS (Creative Lighting System). The CLS basically allows you to use multiple speedlight flash units and sync them all together with one push of the button on the camera. So instead of needing 4-5 large studio lights, you could use 4-5 flashes instead, and they all flash at just the right moment because of the CLS software. For me, for now - I'm content trying to figure out how to use just one...

The other two things I got at the same time as the flash are the Omni-Bounce Diffuser and the Nikon SJ-1 gel kit.

The diffuser helps a lot to reduce the harshness of the light coming off the flash, instead creating a soft diffused light like what you'd get in the studio. The gels insert right into the flash head, and can help mitigate the greenish effects of fluorescent lighting and the orange-ish effects of incandescent lighting, or provide accent color if needed.

While I haven't had too-too much time to practice yet, I think next week's trip to Chicago will offer ample opportunity to play around with it. Meantime - here's a couple of shots I took down at Venice Beach using the flash + diffuser. By putting lighting on the subject in the foreground, it balanced the brightness between subject and sky - allowing me to shoot a little darker and get a deep blue sky while still being able to see the subject. Overall from 1 day's practice, I'm pretty happy with the results!

1 comment:

Designs by CK said...

GREAT pictures Paul! :)

Have a great weekend.