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For all the photographers out there, I wanted to share an exciting new concept called “Strobism.” The word strobe is another name for a camera flash, which comes mounted to the top of most consumer and prosumer cameras. Some strobes will pop up when your camera is set to Auto and the internal lightmeter detects that it needs more light to get a proper exposure. The problem with a camera-mounted flash is that it tends to wash out the colors in your shot if used at full power, while also running the risk of giving your subject red-eye. Even worse, having the light originate from the same direction as the camera will often produce the infamous lighting of a police mugshot. A good solution is an external strobe, which can be held off to the side to give the impression of natural light. Instead of hand-holding the strobe off to the side, strobists are now mounting the strobe to a stand and using it the same way they would a studio light. Let’s touch on some common questions related to strobism.

  • Why is strobism exciting? If you’re doing a location shoot, no longer do you need to worry about having enough sunlight or do you need to carry in a bunch of lights each with cords to trip over. (This is assuming there’s even someplace to plug in your lights.) Using the idea of strobism, you can now take the dynamic lighting of the studio and make it portable, going to any location and still having the option of dramatic lighting.
  • Why is strobism an advanced concept? Because the light only fires when the picture is taken, the lighting needs to be previsualized by the photographer. Models will appreciate not having to stand under a hot light for hours and the photographer will love having a simple, portable lighting setup.
  • How do I get started? A very thorough explanation on how to get started can be found in this YouTube video:
  • Where can I see more samples? I’d recommend you check out photo collections on flickr, paying special attention to the way that strobism allows the photographer to capture incredible outdoor photography that would normally require a truckload of expensive equipment and several assistants to man the lights. 
  • Where can I learn more? Check out the Strobist blog.


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