Friday, October 23, 2009

Strobist in Toronto

Like thousands of other photographers around the world I've been following David Hobby's "Strobist" blog trying learn about photographic lighting. The Strobist site is all about using small speedlight flash units as effective light sources. Small flash units can be used on location or in a studio to provide you with a professional looking lighting setup and this site has hundreds of articles to show you how. An instructional DVD series the "Strobist lighting seminar" can also be obtained which shows these lighting techniques in practice.

The first step to improve your flash photography, is getting the flash off your SLR's hotshoe, often referred to as Off Camera Flash (OCF) to do this you must:

  • Sync the flash unit(s) to your camera's shutter (PC cord/Remote trigger).
  • Provide a way to position your OCF in the three dimensional space around your subject (Light stands, Clamps or Brackets).
  • Often you'll want to modify your light source to make it softer etc.. (Umbrella or Light boxes).
  • You may also want to direct to or restrict your light from an area in your photograph (Snoots, Grids and Gobos).
David explains all of these techniques and multiple ways to accomplish the above tasks, often with a cheap solution to replace an expensive accessory that is being sold. After watching the training seminars and reading the articles, I started looking around Toronto for some of the equipment that was recommended. I soon found that the major camera shops do not carry some of the items, so here is a list of less known places that do:

  • Light Stand: Manfrotto Nano 001 light weight sturdy stand that folds up to 18 inches. ( carried as the 5001B Nano $79)
  • Rosco filter sample kit: used to color correct or changed the color of your flash output. ( Free)
  • Coroplast: black plastic like cardboard used to create homemade grids. ( $4.25 for 24"x32" sheet sold under the name Plasticor)
  • Botero #23 collapsible background: 5'x7' light grey background. (couldn't find this locally Vistek carries similar but expensive Lastolite products, you can order the Botero from B&H in New York $63 USD).
  • Sync Cords and Flash accessories: cables and such that are required to sync the flash to your camera shutter. (not local either but a super cheap source with amazing customer service
  • Sweet and Sour Soup container: used instead of Stophen or Garry Fong diffuser. (Sorry I don't eat Chinese you're on your own)
Hope this small list helps you track down some of these Strobist recommended items here in the GTA.

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