Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Photography

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Stripping the Light Fantastic!

Sorry, couldn’t resist. Back to the remoteness of Iceland. Yet another field foray with just one light, this time back to that gray area between small and big flash, the Quadra. Here you can easily see one of the strengths of bigger flash systems I mention above. The tiny (half pound) flash head of the Quadra couples with the Rotalux 2×6′ strip light quite easily. That’s a big beautiful source for a really small, light flash head. (Truth be told, the Quadra flash head on its own is lighter than an SB-900.)


This strip source is an indirect softbox, which means the actual flash head is facing directly away from the subject, firing into a big strip of silvery material. The result is a very even, smooth line of light, which I find is often perfect for a dancer. Dancer’s moves tend to be linear. They extend. This type of softbox extends with them. Ever been on stage and looked into the wings? There are often vertically arrayed banks of hot lights, baffled by curtains on either side of them. Wing lights, side lights—call them what you will—but the point is they are vertical and skinny. Perfect for rim lighting the shapes of performers. Think of this strip light as your own, portable set of wing lights, stage right or left, as you choose.

Take a look at the production picture, if you would. Couple of things to notice. The diffuser is off the front of the softbox. I wanted a lot of f-stop for this picture, so I was really asking a lot of this still relatively small flash system. Four hundred watt-seconds can get swallowed up pretty quickly inside these real big, voluminous light shapers. What you are seeing here is one strategy to cop back some power. When you remove the outer layer of diffusion, generally you’ll pick back up at least one f-stop.

And, given the size of this strip, you’ll still stay soft. It will be more directional, for sure, but the expanse of silver, and the indirect nature of the construction of this light shaper makes removing that outer baffle doable, without causing a disaster for the quality of your light. (Reason for big f-stop was DOF. I wanted the fields of grass and the sky to be pretty sharp and well defined.)

The finals on this spat out at 1/60th at f/11, ISO 200, D3X, lens zoomed at 19mm. Auto white balance. I was not nervous about my subject being unsharp, even given her leap. When you are working with a dancer, and orchestrating his or her gesture, you get into a rhythm with them, and your timing follows along. For a jump such as she is executing, for a very split second, at the apex of that jump, she is essentially motionless, hanging in the air. That fact, coupled with the speed of the flash burst (known as flash duration) will nail the motion, even at a shutter speed such as 1/60th.

(This is not a universal! I am compelled to say that a 1/60th flash mix will not always stop motion, depending on the nature and speed of the motion, the ambient conditions, how much available light is in the final equation, and how much flash. Whew! Would I get nailed to the wall for that one! Like all things photographic, it’s a solution for this moment, at this time, in this field, in Iceland. Broad-stroke lessons and experience derive from every time you put your camera to your eye, and those strokes will inform your next shoot, but always, always understand this about shooting on location: What works today, will not tomorrow. You have to take everything you know, everything you’ve learned, and all information that the mistakes and bad frames have provided you with, and bring them to bear, every day, with every click. It’s never the same. What a pain in the ass! At the same time, what bliss! Not everybody gets that wonderful, invigorating opportunity to figure it all out all over again, each and every day.)

Back to the production pic. Notice again, our buddy the C-stand. It is not that high, but it is seriously pitched at an angle towards my subject and her gesture. When she jumps, or even just looks up, she is looking into the light, and a section of the softbox that will be closer to her. This does two things: Makes that area of exposure around her head and shoulders incrementally brighter than the rest of the photo, which is a good thing; and it makes sure that the light that hits her face will be nice light. Remember, the closer the light source, the softer the feel of the light. A she jumps, up and in toward the light source, she is jumping into an area of really pretty photons.

By making sure her upper torso gets the best light, and ever-so-slightly more of it than her legs and the grass, there is a natural gradation—a fall-off—that occurs right at the moment of exposure. By pitching the flash this way, you gather the nicest and strongest piece of it right where you want and need it. The rest of the flash effect just fades away. Which is good. You don’t want to over-light the ground and draw attention down there.


Good thing I had a whole class with me, by the way. Will I never learn? Here I’ve been saying all along that I respected the power of the wind, and I’ve offered cautionary notes about using light sources that are just dumb to put up in even the slightest of breezes. And there I am, out on the plains of Iceland, without a shred of cover, and a 6′ softbox up on a stand. I’ve got another stand up to stop the box from spinning in the wind, and I’ve got half the class holding onto the stand supporting the light.

Oh, well. Photographers. If we were smart, or trainable, or logical, or reasonable, we would have probably stopped doing all this long ago. I guess we just keep hearing the call of a light in the wind.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020