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Old     (wakesurf12)      Join Date: Jun 2003       06-02-2007, 10:07 PM Reply   
Ok, so tonight was my first time strobing from a tube and I will have to say that it went much better than I had expected but not perfect. (at least not to my standards.) Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on this. For the most part the flash was on about full or 1/2 power for most of the night. I started off trying faster shutter speeds (500-1000) but was having troubles syncing with the flash. So I compesanted by shooting at 1/250 and closing up my aperture. I was then able to catch the light but I then got a bit of motion blur. Eventually I was also getting better results as the sun went down. Also, my ISO ranged from 400-800 durring the night. I would ideally like to keep this as low as possible. So once again, if anyone out there has any suggestions it would be much appreciated. I want to get this thing down. Other than "keep the tube out of the shot"




Old     (wakesurf12)      Join Date: Jun 2003       06-02-2007, 10:09 PM Reply   
More photos...


Old     (jusstty)      Join Date: Dec 2006       06-03-2007, 7:28 AM Reply   
First picture was sick. Nice job!!
Old     (richd)      Join Date: Oct 2003       06-03-2007, 7:32 AM Reply   
I'm interested in hearing about your technique as well since my flash experience is relatively small. What camera and what flash? Maybe Mike Isler will chime in I believe he uses strobes.
Old     (wakesurf12)      Join Date: Jun 2003       06-03-2007, 7:55 AM Reply   
Nikon D200
80-200 2.8
SB800 triggered by Pocket Wizards

I would explain more but the boat is litterally pulling away from the dock for a surf sesh! Thanks!
Old     (littleblightie)      Join Date: Mar 2005       06-03-2007, 9:49 AM Reply   
It looks to me like your flashes are a) Too Close
and b) Too Low...

It shouldn't be too hard to fashion some sort of mock monopod to put the flashes on top of, so that you can put the flash up a bit higher, and eliminate the shadow put onto the riders face by his arm/handle...

Another idea could be to buy another flash, even one that's not as powerful, or a full time manual flash, so that you can power them down even more... I'm assuming because of your radiated knowledge that you realise when you're doing flash action photography the flash duration is more important than shutter speed...

With all that said, for your first time, these shots are awesome, and I'm stoked that you are trying new things to get unique shots...
Old     (isler)      Join Date: Apr 2003       06-03-2007, 10:55 AM Reply   

David's on the money with flashes being too close. Depth of light is what's causing things to be very contrasty. Depth of light (read more about it here: ) basically means that light from a specular (point) source falls off less dramatically at farther distances and more dramatically at closer distances. So, if you want the light on your subject to be more even from front to back, put the flash further away. As far as the flash being higher, yes that will make a difference. Putting the tube farther away, though (closer to boat) will help more... as either way, you're changing the angle that light is hitting your subject.

Keep your flash at half power or below. Not only will this shorten the recycle time, it will also shorten the flash duration... ensuring motion is frozen. Also, don't keep the flash head zoomed at 28mm. Try 50mm or 70mm zoom setting on the flash head. This will control the light a lot more, and also you won't have to use as high a power setting.

Time of day is crucial to this kind of work. If it's too bright out, you won't have enough flash power. If it's too dark, you'll be shooting at very long exposures (1/8th or slower)... which can be interesting for creative effect. A slightly overcast sunset time is perfect. Also, to keep your subject sharp, shoot into the ambient light, so your subject is in shadow and is wholly lit by the flash. If ambient light is mainly lighting your subject, there will be motion blur (since your shutter is 1/250th or slower). If he's in shadow, he's mainly lit by the flash which is 1/2000th or so in duration.

Here's a few of mine:
Old     (derby)      Join Date: Nov 2005       06-03-2007, 11:08 AM Reply   
Ryan, your shots look great.

Mike, your shots look amazing!

I love this website.
Old     (littleblightie)      Join Date: Mar 2005       06-04-2007, 2:44 AM Reply   
I'm now thinking this is something I'd like to start trying, so I've got my eyes on some Vivitar 285HV's, and either PW's or a different type of slave...

But I was wondering how you, Ryan Taylor, have encased the flash? I've got a nice solid waterhousing for my 20D, but nothing for a flash... Kind of looks like you're using an EWA bag?
Old     (swami)      Join Date: Apr 2006       06-04-2007, 7:38 AM Reply   
a very good effort for your first time btw. Good work man, I'm sure more sick shots will follow!
Old     (swami)      Join Date: Apr 2006       06-04-2007, 7:39 AM Reply   
btw: what flash are you using?
Old     (wakesurf12)      Join Date: Jun 2003       06-04-2007, 10:49 AM Reply   
Mike, first off I want to say that I cannot thank you enough for your advice and thoughts on my images. The depth of light definitely makes sense. It is real funny too how much everything seems to make so much sense when planning it the days even months before but then when you get out there how things seem to be much more rushed and hetic. Oh well, I guess the only way to fix that is to shoot more.

Swami and Dave, I have my Nikon SB800 enclosed in an EWA bag that I had for my now retired GL1. I am really glad now that I have found a new use for it! I showed these photos to a fellow photographer friend of mine and he offered to let me use his SB800 as well. I am thinking about either bringing another light into the mix and creating another effect OR, taping the two together to help gain a quicker recycle time. Either way I cannot wait to get back out there and get more shots!

Mike, one more thing... what ISO do you primarily shoot these shots at? I want to keep them as low as possible but I don't necessarily want to shoot a rather slow shutter. Then again, I probably would have to.

Thanks again!
Old     (scott_a)      Join Date: Dec 2002       06-04-2007, 6:44 PM Reply   
As your ambient drops, the shutter speed plays less of a role in motion blur than you think. I'll let Mike get more in depth, but basically the duration of the flash is gonna determine whether or not there's motion blur, so by keeping your flash below 1/2 or 1/4th you're essentially exposing the rider (or whatever your flashing) for at most 1/1000th of a second.

There's a chart out there somewhere with a huge list different flashes and how long the flash exposure is for each of it's manual power settings. I'll see if I can hunt that down...but again, I'm sure if Mike chimes in he'll have that link handy for ya.

Shooting with flashes is a whole 'nother ball game! haha
Old     (swami)      Join Date: Apr 2006       06-04-2007, 8:54 PM Reply   
What's the trick to focusing in the dark? :-)
Old     (wakesurf12)      Join Date: Jun 2003       06-05-2007, 10:37 AM Reply   
Magic! haha! But seriously, on the shots of the wake slaysh I pre-focused on the rider when he was standing at the wake. This one the chace boat didn't drift too far away from the riding boat but I definitely have some that are out of focus! You win some you loose some I guess.
Old     (swami)      Join Date: Apr 2006       06-05-2007, 1:13 PM Reply   
Man, when are they going to ad RADAR or LIDAR focusing to that Canon EOS1 Mk3.
Old     (isler)      Join Date: Apr 2003       06-05-2007, 6:04 PM Reply   
Focusing in the dark is not always easy! But, this is where 2.8 lenses have an advantage... AF will work much better. Also, the center AF sensor is more sensitive than the peripheral sensors, so that can be used to your advantage. Manual focus is also always an option.

As for Scott A's mention of flash duration, I don't have a link handy to that chart. However, you can basically assume that any modern flash unit that's similar to a 580EX/SB-800/Vivitar 285 will have a flash duration that's 1000th or faster at half power. This DOESN'T hold true for the Quantum Q-Flash, which is considerably slower. Flash duration is usually available in the manual or on the manufacturer's spec sheet on website.

Also, flash will freeze anything if ambient is 3 stops under, or less. So, if the rider's in the shadow and not primarily lit by ambient, generally the flash will freeze motion.

It all comes down to doing it many times! Try different things... different power, flash head zoom settings, aperture, time of day... even do cross-gelling. For example, this shot on my site: . It was shot with a tube flash against a GREY sunset. Not photoshopped. What I did was put a one and a half CTB (Conversion to Tungsten - Blue) gel on the flash, shoot a custom white balance against a grey card, then use a tube flash with a single CTB gel. So, the 1.5 CTB will make the camera try to make everything very warm/orange in color temperature. Turns grey to orange. The single CTB gel on the flash keeps the flash from going completely orange as well, but since it's half a CTB less than the background, it's still warmer than neutral.

And Swami - while there's no RADAR or LIDAR on the mk3 (would be nice!), they did increase the sensitivity of a lot of the focus points.
Old     (dcervenka)      Join Date: Sep 2002       06-05-2007, 6:08 PM Reply   
What about the talent holding the flash..? you know it aint's dat easy! Don't forget us little guys...!
Old     (bakes5)      Join Date: Aug 2006       06-05-2007, 7:41 PM Reply   
Well that settles it....I'm gettin some pocket wizards

Love the shots

Old     (Walt)      Join Date: Jan 2003       06-05-2007, 8:05 PM Reply   
Great thread !
Old     (swami)      Join Date: Apr 2006       06-05-2007, 8:28 PM Reply   
what I want to try is this... in the dark, do a multishot with the strobe.. where the strobe fires off several shots in a burst. Think sequence shot without the photoshop.. tricky but I wanna try it.

I gotta get me some sort of bag for my flash and housing.. cheap!
Old     (swami)      Join Date: Apr 2006       06-05-2007, 8:38 PM Reply   
not a night strobe shot, but one of my favorite pictures of all times...
Old     (hawk7)      Join Date: Apr 2007       06-06-2007, 10:00 PM Reply   
Strange Setup That First Guy's Riding, 03 Highbacks W/ Ronix One?
Old     (wakesurf12)      Join Date: Jun 2003       06-06-2007, 10:22 PM Reply   
You take what you can get I guess! haha!.

Swami, that sounds like a sick idea! Let me know what you come up with. I may have to try that soon as well. I may try getting out there with multiple strobe soon. (after I figure out the whole one strobe thing) but this may require multiple tubes and a water housing. The latter of which I probably cannot afford right now. Maybe. hahaha!
Old     (xtremebordgurl)      Join Date: Dec 2002       06-09-2007, 10:54 AM Reply   
ok, this might be a stupid question but I have to ask, how do you connect the SB800 to the pocket wizard? Do you need to buy a specail adapter or am I over-complicating things?
Old     (wakesurf12)      Join Date: Jun 2003       06-11-2007, 10:21 PM Reply   
Its a small cable that runs from the wizard to the flash unit. Its pretty handy. I love my pocket wizards! haha
Old     (bakes5)      Join Date: Aug 2006       06-12-2007, 8:12 AM Reply   
Has anybody tried action type shots with just the standard flash based wireless with the SB-600 and SB-800? Seems like there is a little delay when using the standard Nikon CLS wireless.
Old     (littleblightie)      Join Date: Mar 2005       06-13-2007, 10:39 PM Reply   
I believe this was the link you were looking for before... All about Flash Durations...
Old     (scott_a)      Join Date: Dec 2002       06-15-2007, 1:02 AM Reply   
yep...that's it.
Old     (adamo)      Join Date: Jun 2007       06-24-2007, 8:22 PM Reply   
has anyone thought about mounting their flashes from the tower/back of the boat? i guess with a couple you might have enough power, i don't know though, i've haven't tried it yet, i think i'm going to.
Old     (isler)      Join Date: Apr 2003       06-24-2007, 8:46 PM Reply   

Kind of like this? =)
Two Elinchrom 600s monolights and a Honda generator. (And an SB-28 to light the driver's face)

Old     (scott_a)      Join Date: Dec 2002       06-24-2007, 11:47 PM Reply   
Ricky Ephrom experimented with this recently, too.
Old     (adamo)      Join Date: Jun 2007       06-25-2007, 2:53 PM Reply   
Well Mike, i don't have that kind of power, you think a couple 285s/283s might work? I guess ill just have to try... I wont underexpose ambient but i should get some nice fill

(Message edited by adamo on June 25, 2007)
Old     (isler)      Join Date: Apr 2003       06-25-2007, 3:41 PM Reply   

It's definitely possible to throw light from a flash unit like a 283/285, SB-800 or 580ex from the boat to the rider. You'll likely be at full power and have to wait a little later in the evening, but it does work. I've seen (and have shot) photos with on-camera flash from the boat illuminating the rider. That usually doesn't look great, but does show that the flash will reach. So, if you mounted yours on the tower and used PW's, and shot from a different angle it should work. You'll just be chewing through batteries quickly!
Old     (barthold)      Join Date: Aug 2005       07-12-2007, 10:16 PM Reply   
Here are a few pictures take from the boat with a Nikon D200 W/pocket wizards and a flash (on the tube) in a home made water proof housing. It was an accident that we cought such a good silhouett of our friend on the tube holding the flash. Comments welcome.Upload
Old     (peter_c)      Join Date: Sep 2001       07-12-2007, 11:11 PM Reply   
Do you have a picture of the housing you built for the flash and wizard? Curious as I have a D200, an SB-800, and Pocket Wizards, along with an old Vivitar flash. I am liking the flash pictures :-)
Old     (barthold)      Join Date: Aug 2005       07-13-2007, 6:56 AM Reply   
I will post a picture of the waterproof flash housing as soon as possible.
Old     (wakesurf12)      Join Date: Jun 2003       07-13-2007, 7:27 AM Reply   
Awesome! I love the sky in the sunset one!
Old     (barthold)      Join Date: Aug 2005       07-16-2007, 9:51 AM Reply   
Here is the water proof housing for SB-600 and pocket wizard as mentioned aboveUpload
Old     (barthold)      Join Date: Aug 2005       07-16-2007, 9:54 AM Reply   
Old     (peter_c)      Join Date: Sep 2001       07-16-2007, 10:58 AM Reply   
Thanks Doug :-) Looks like pipe with a screw on end cap. What I can figure out, is what the lexan lens is held in place by?? Is that an end cap or rubber? Otherwise the simplicity is brilliant.
Old     (barthold)      Join Date: Aug 2005       07-16-2007, 12:25 PM Reply   
My friend Hil is nuts! Here is a little sketch that he wipped up.Upload
Old     (barthold)      Join Date: Aug 2005       07-16-2007, 12:30 PM Reply   
here is one showing the o-ring

I am thinking of making one out of all Clear acrylic. I am going shopping at tap plastics to see what parts are available. I know the threaded fitting are not available, so the design will vary.

Old     (barthold)      Join Date: Aug 2005       07-23-2007, 6:49 AM Reply   
Congratulations to Hil for making the front page of

Check it out!
Old     (alija_bos)      Join Date: Jul 2007       07-23-2007, 2:26 PM Reply   
awesome.. I had originally built something like that to hold a mini dvcam.. I think I will mod it for my speedlights and PW.
Old     (wakebdr2002)      Join Date: Apr 2007       07-27-2007, 7:14 AM Reply   
What is the pocket wizard and what does it do?
Old     (barthold)      Join Date: Aug 2005       07-27-2007, 7:36 AM Reply   
It allows you to fire a flash from far far away. In this case the flash is held by a person on the tube and the camera man is in the boat.
Old     (barthold)      Join Date: Aug 2005       10-21-2007, 1:06 PM Reply   
I finally built an acrylic version. For those who do not want to build their own, I have decided to sell them on ebay.

I am still willing to help those who want to build your own. Feel free to ask any questions



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