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Tuesday, 31 March 2009


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Maybe DH never used a burning bush as a light source, but there was some discussion about lighting farts. And a few cautionary comments from readers on that subject.

As a long time reader of his blog (as well as this one), I always find it stimulating.David Hobby's site is a fount of information, and he presents it in a straight forward, and often humorous fashion (a al the light by "natural gas" comments. The success of his project, however can undercut the its own inherent value, because some readers may transform the novelty and freshness of his information into a generic formula: "strobism" can only equal small flashes. (One sees this tendency in some of the reader comments). By shifting the tech focus to larger flash units, and yet discussing them in his own fashion, David has refreshed our ideas of off-camera lighting, reaffirmed the value of his previous lessons, and questioned stereotypical interpretations of his "strobist" approach. Blogging is an art form in and of itself, and like other activities, a periodic rethinking of basic topics and approaches can add vitality. (One reason I like both of these blogs is that I never quite know what to expect, but I like what I read when I get to them.)

I'm sure you're right in the second paragraph (I'm told David Hamilton only used one camera with a normal lens, and that his famous soft technique was due to him never cleaning his lens. It may sound like a dis, but it's not, and it comes from somebody who knows him personally.) But I'm not sure, how does it relate to the rest of the article?

It just means, you don't have to learn everything. Take it or leave it....


David Hobby is a neo-hero of the modern era. He boldly goes where many gear-heads fear to tread.

I learned of David's work through Flickr and have followed his sites ever since. What's not to like? He even awarded me 4th place in his 2007 Strobist of the Year contest! :-)

[ http://www.flickr.com/photos/christophersoddsandsods/1808553795/in/set-72157602816343387/ ]

I've read the Strobist blog nearly from the beginning and it blew my mind how accessible flash photography was. Sometimes it just takes someone to take you by the hand and open the door and then you realize how easy it is to take those first few steps in retrospect. Since those early days I've gone on to mono lights - it really is a natural progression and any of those who argue for purity are totally missing David's point. Learning on those dinky speedlights is just an opening to learning how to light artificially with anything. Those who choose to limit themselves to a the original format are doing it for no reason except to feel elite. It's horses for courses.

The thing that seemed to me unusual on Strobist was the focus on balancing flash with environmental light in something more sophisticated than the usual "fill flash" setup. Most people doing "serious" strobe lighting do it in a studio, where there is no "ambient" light and they strive to control everything. Using small flashes in multi-light setups outdoors *forces* you to consider the ambient, and David Hobby seems to have gotten very good at incorporating it into interesting lighting.

And I know how heavy my three White Lightning heads are in their case.

Another reason Strobist caught on so well, I think, is that it lets people avoid street-use permits for a lot of shoots (particularly if using voice-actuated lightstands).

I love the strobist website. I have only been reading it a few months (I think I found my way there from here), but it has opened a whole new part of my photographer's brain. The idea of shooting flash outdoors, by underexposing the ambient light a little and controlling the artificial light blew my mind. I had just never thought of it! It has me delving into Nikon's CLS, and getting my head around manual flash. The technical side of it is going to take a bit of practise, but the creative side has my mind swimming with new ideas. And of course studio lights are the natural progression! Photography at its most basic level is all about light. David's blog teaches how to explore and use it in a most readable and entertaining fashion. Great stuff! This is why I love photography, and also what the web has done for it. Despite a 20 year romance and passion, I feel I'm still only in the early stages of exploring and learning this wonderful artform.

I'm a pro travel photographer who mostly works with natural light and David Hobby has certainly inspired me to change the way I create images, and thus the way I see. Every so often I have these moments of blind panic where I realise that I have never even stood foot in a studio let alone know how to work in one. Now I know that it's just my style! :) I like it when someone re-confirms long-held misconceptions I have.

David identified an existing trend that digital cameras helped to bring forward by dint of their fast review function and better high ISO performance. The real breakthrough was how his writing and examples made the trend so accessible to so many people.

I've been reading Strobist since its inception. The word "strobism" is like fingernails on a blackboard to me. It's not a religion or a cult.

Bill Rogers

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