Using Remote Strobes On Location for Action Photography
When I owned the stock photo agency, AlaskaStock Images, I used to tell photographers that if their photo was just 1% better than the competition, they would get 100% of the sale— a very good reason to make images the best that they can be. If done right, using strobes on location shoots has the potential to make images that 1% better. Used improperly, it can be disastrous.
During last year’s Iditarod, I made the opportunity to use multiple strobes and got some OK results. To say the least, it’s difficult to handle all this without an assistant, in the winter and with action that only happens once. More often than not I’ve done all the set up just to be disappointed with the shot because the dog team did not cooperate or the system failed at just the wrong time.
Now, using Canon’s new 600EX-RT strobes, it’s more fail-proof, but there’s still the ordeal of setting up in winter, without assistance and the potential of a non-cooperative dog team/musher. In the instance above, to keep it simple, I placed one strobe behind and to the left of where the musher would be when I shot the photo, pointed up at the birch trees as well as down the trail toward my position.
The second strobe was on the hot shoe of the camera (not recommended but sometimes necessary when dealing with action and winter locations) and pointed nearly straight up to throw the light as far back as possible without blowing out the foreground. The back strobe was near full power and the hot-shoe strobe on 1/8th or so. I like the texture in the snow and on the dogs’ fur as well as the rim light on the musher given by the remote strobe.
Not a GREAT image, but sure better than a single strobe.