June 3, 2010

NEW VIDEO!! Our Backpackers Studio and where to buy!! Part 1

Michael is back from Estados Unidos...finally!! We decided to add a video showing the backpacker's studio and how easy it is to assemble! We also take two minutes and set up a speedlight on a stand. Part two will include a demo of the gear and different light modifiers, so stay tuned!

So what is the backpackers studio (remember I am going to patent this saying so watch out you terminology robbers)? The backpackers studio is our lightweight and extremely portable studio that has helped us so much that we want to share it with you. Through our thousands and thousands of dollars of gear purchased we realized one very big thing:


So with this new found knowledge we put together, the backpackers studio. Everything we need to be able to take the pictures we want with as little gear as possible.

All the links you need to buy everything we use is listed. I am going to list everything we have in the bag, and I am in no way implying that this is the Golden List. This is just what has worked out well for US and we thought we would share.

If you have any questions just leave a comment and I'll answer ASAP!!!

One very big note!! We signed up for amazon and bhphoto affiliate link thingydoodlemabobbers so we will make cash if you buy from the links below (the darker gray is a link).

Our great money making idea number 11,365 (yes we've had that many more since the T-Shirt idea)

Our backpackers studio after the break...

Radio Flash Triggers:

Cyber Syncs by Paul C. Buff

We love these triggers (CyberSync CBT) and receivers (Cybersync CSRB), they fire every time. I'm sure there are other great brands but these things just do the job. I tried pocketwizards and they are simply too expensive and too big for my likes, but to each their own. Remember you will be a better photographer if your gear is not in the way of your shot!! You shoot with what you are comfortable with. Who cares what the neighbor has!! These work great for us.


Nikon SB-28 is our preffered flash. Why?? They are cheap and powerful We also have an SB-24 (in it's last throes), a Nikon SB-80DX (too expensive used but a great flash), a SB-800 (barely used, we should sell it and buy 3 more SB-28's) and a SB-600 (this is collecting so much dust we shoud give it away to science, their could be a cure for something in the dust. The flash is good, but NO SYNC makes it completely useless for us since we hate the slave adapters they break way too easily, but your mileage may vary).

We buy almost all of our flashes at pawn shops, craigslist and the amazon.com used department (whenever they have a good price)

An important note I want to make is that if you use radio triggers and shoot in manual mode, the brand of your camera or flash does not matter. You can fire a Nikon flash with a canon and vice versa!! The world can now be in peace at least when it comes to speedlight. You are not mated with any certain brand because of your lens investment!! YAY!!


Westcott 28" Apollo Softbox, this one is always with us no matter what! I can not come up with the words on how useful this softbox is. It opens and closes like an umbrella and attaches to the umbrella bracket just like..well an umbrella. There is no softbox that can be setup faster in our opinion. And don't even get me started on portability!! If there is one thing you are going to buy...this softbox is it!!!

Buy it now from Bhphoto Westcott Apollo 28" Softbox Kit or if you prefer Amazon Westcott 28" Apollo Softbox Kit

50" Westcott Apollo Softbox.The 50" is obviously bigger and less portable, but the light is spectacular!! It also folds down like an umbrella, a huge umbrella. Setup is extremely easy and like the 28", it also fits right into the umbrella bracket. I would start off with the 28" and then if you find it lacking in some way, buy the bigger one. These fold up and down like umbrellas and they connect to your stands umbrella bracket, just like an umbrella, so they are a must for everyone that needs portability.

Buy the 50" Westcott from bhphoto.com Westcott Apollo 50" Softbox I haven't found it cheaper anywhere else online.

Umbrella brackets:

The Apollo 28" kit comes with a bracket but we bought additional one's. We went with the cheap chinese one's first, but they didn't last to long so we upgraded to the Bogen 026. Your mileage may vary though with the other brands.

Bogen 026 (this is the new version of the Bogen 2905 which is the same thing, here's a link to the 2905 on Amazon.com Bogen 2905 it's also a couple bucks cheaper). Here's the link to buy the Bogen 026 now from bhphoto.com Bogen 026 Umbrella Adapter or amazon.com here Bogen 026 Umbrella Adapter 

Important note about these adapters, you also need to purchase the hot shoe adapter so that you can put your speedlight on it. We use the Stroboframe brand, but this is the one bhphoto recommends and it's cheaper

Smith Vector Hot Shoe Adapter

Light stands:

Avenger A625B, was looking for the links and found out it is discontinued...maybe you can find a good price on some used ones.

Or just get the westcott stand if you are on a budget and don't need extra durability

Westcott 750 Photo Basics 7.0-Foot Light Stand
Buy from amazon.com

If you got a little more bank or need more ruggedness, go for the

Manfrotto 5001B 74-Inch Nano Stand

Buy from amazon.com

The Manfrotto is lighter and folds down smaller. This will be our next purchase!!

Shoot Through Umbrella:

Buy from Bhphoto.com
Photoflex Convertible Umbrella

It's big and beautiful, but most importantly it's cheap! Well, there are cheaper, better to say the cheapest of the better brands!!

The stuff below is OUR personal preference but that does NOT mean your camera or lenses or whatever will not cut it. It's just what we use...so relax!!!

Our camera:
Buy from Bhphoto.com:
Nikon D300

The link is to a Nikon D300s because the D300 is discontinued. We love these cameras, the autofocus, weather sealing and ergonomics made it our choice. But to be honest, we love just about any camera from every brand that is available. We don't buy them all for lack of room and money. So read this and memorize it, might be a famous saying one day.

I don't care what brand underwear you are wearing, why should I care what brand of camera you are shooting with.

Most used lens:
Buy from bhphoto.com
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

Ok, we love our small portable primes, and hate carrying around this gigantic beast, but we simply love the images it produces. For our backpackers studio we try to carry as little gear as humanly possible. And so this lens wins. The downside is that this sucker is expensive. So if you are on a budget I really like the Sigma 24-60mm f/2.8 (note: I only loved this lens after it was calibrated by Sigma, but I bought it used so this might have something to do with it. It also has a slight tendency towards yellow, but easily corrected in Post)

Our camera bag:
Buy from bhphoto.com
Lowepro Slingshot AW 200

It has been a trusty friend, but it has a couple of major pitfalls for US! The first, the size is perfect, but since it has a weird shaped compartment, our larger lenses do not fit, which is a pain. The second, is the sling strap. It becomes uncomfortable after a while. Especially when the bag is full of gear. The final and what I consider the worst is the durability of the bag. It's just not as rugged as we need. But, we are rougher on gear than the normal person, so this might not be an issue to most!!

And that ladies and gentlemen is our Backpackers Studio. We do have other stuff in it like, gaffers tape, extra flash sync cable, batteries, Rosco gels and a flashlight. I will post all of the gear we have so that you gearheads can know it all, but this is what is ALWAYS with us, no matter where we go!!!

We've learned over the last couple of years, the lighter and less gear, the more and better photos you will take!!

Alright, buy whatever you need, shoot while it arrives, then when it arrives, go try the new gear and post some pics. We started a flickr group so that we can all post pics. Here's the link lightenupandshoot flickr group



  1. Hey guys, great post, thanks!!
    When using the 28" Apollo, how do you set the power of your flash?
    Do you just set it to like 1/2 power and change everything else (F, shutter, distance to subject), or do you open the Apollo front diffuser and change it to make ajustments?


  2. This is great stuff, and good timing !
    having been dpreviewed and as a newbie overwhelmed, I believe in you two I have found the answer, creative enlightenment!
    great videos guys, keep them coming, im blown away how a normal scene with a few flashes and knowledge creates powerful images like the girl and graffiti.
    I just ordered all my gear from scratch so fun fun fun.
    SB-28 on the way, now softboxes can you explain those in a video please, does the flash go inside do i really need one? who knows im a newbie :-)
    D90+18-200VRII 35mmf1/8
    Looks like i need more toys!

  3. Andy & Michael,

    Nice job. Wanted to let you know that of all people, Ken Rockwell had your Pixel Peepers video on his site yesterday. You had him laughing apparently. Nice job.

    For the previous post, I typically set my strobes/flashes at 1/2 so I get quicker recycle times and make my adjustments to Aperture to get proper flash exposure. If I really need to go full, it's usually if I'm competing with the sun. Fresh batteries will get you quicker recycle times.

    The flash goes inside the 28" or 50" Apollo. Typically it's mounted facing the back. This distributes (softens) the light. If you need to access the flash, the front (white diffusion) is velcro and you peel back and adjust your flash settings. Easy if it's facing towards the back.

    Keep up the good work. Look forward to more videos!

  4. Forget Science you should donate that SB600 to me. I want to tear into one and find a way to wire a PC port into it so I can have the best of both worlds without forking out for the SB900. Id even pay shipping or you could just have Michael give it to me in Tampa:)

  5. Great post guys. It's good to know you don't need thousands upon thousands of dollars of equipment to get good results.

    One question, I notice you mostly use your softbox, though you mention having a few umbrellas. I'd love to know what you think of the two and how they compare in various situations.

    I have 4 umbrellas now of various types, but I am curious to try a cheaper "Ebay" softbox to see how it compares.

  6. You guys should get together with one of the companies and design the ultimate bag. I think sometimes that they are not designed by real users.

  7. What's up guys and hot chicks (that was for you niagragirl).

    Ok, flirting over!! Niagaragirl, I would love to design a bag and maybe one of these days I'll start tinkering with the idea. We have had a ton of bags between Michael and I and I totally agree, there is no perfect solution...which sucks!!

    Dave thanks for helping out with the answer to the softbox question. Couldn't have answered it better myself. Although the only thing is that we change settings depending on what we are shooting. Screwing around with settings is our claim to fame.

    CamLS, the softbox is used when we need to direct light, the umbrellas we use do not have a back covering so they shoot light everywhere, which is good sometimes and other times just not what we want. We mostly use them when we need to shoot more than 3 people and the softbox just doesn't cut it. Before buying a cheap ebay softbox let me save you some cash. You don't skimp on lenses or softboxes. The chinese ones (no offense to our chinese followers...just blow) We bought one and it lasted 2 weeks of daily usage. Go with the westcott you will not be dissappointed. Oh and buy through the link, we'll make 2 dollars!!!

    Brian, when did you become so selfish, donate it to you instead of curing a disease!! Shame on you!! Have a good time on Saturday...bring Pistachio's!!!

    dodegkr a little advice. When I first got into photography last week. I was a newbie too and the only thing I wish I could change about those first 3 days was the desire to always have more gear. Let me save you a couple thousand dollars which you could just donate to me...screw Michael. Get the bare necesities. There are only a couple of things you should splurge on: Lenses, Softbox(not that the cheap ones don't work just that you'll end up paying more later), tripod head and your computer monitor. The rest, china away!! But before you buy 10000 things, learn to use the first 3 you have now!!!

    Ok people what a very long post. All typed on my Dell Mini 9 (I'll talk about this little lifesaver later on).

    Thanks for keeping up with us, it really does feel good to see that people are interested in our nonsense.



  8. eehhhhh disease cures are overrated, if we cure them all think of how many healthcare professionals will be out of work leading to the demise of the worlds economy and then no one would would be around to make batteries and your flashes would not work then you would be out of a job as well as the people who pick pistachios and evrythign would just go to hell ina handbasket quick:)....

    On a more serious note Kata bags is having their dream bag challenge, http://www.kata-bags.com/index.asp?UP1=OK check it out.

  9. Andy,

    Thanks for the post. While I'm sipping girlie drinks on the beach you are actually working. Keep up the good work! "I don't care what brand of underwear you are wearing..." Jajajjajaa!

    For all the nice people attending tomorrow afternoon. Please don't be offended if I curiously ask which brand of your underwear you are wearing. Tranquilo, era ena broma! (relax, it was a joke)

    Thanks Andy!

    PS I'd like to note some other oddities in our bag:
    *scotch tape - I use it for the gels. All our flashes are covered in gaffer and scotch tape. They look a little ghetto.

    *business cards

    *spare batteries

    *extra memory cards

    *extra set of cyber syncs (we have never had one go bad on us. But, the lithium coin battery in the transmitter went bad during a shoot a few months ago (they last about a year)).

    *normally our small light bag houses two stands, a 60" umbrella, 28" softbox, a Honl snoot, and two Honl grids w/speedstrap. If traveling, we might remove one of the stands and umbrella so we can pack things like underwear, toothbrush and fancy hair gel. It looked really funny last weekend while shooting in El Retiro...toiletries were spilling out on the steps of the old church.

  10. It just gets better...
    You need to come to the UK and do some workshops.
    Andy reminds me of tom cruise lol

  11. @Andy "Get the bare necesities. There are only a couple of things you should splurge on: Lenses, Softbox(not that the cheap ones don't work just that you'll end up paying more later)..."

    Oh this is so TRUE! I see people get sucked into these "Lighting Kits" all the time. They get it and have no clue as to what to do with it. I advise noobs to get some kind of speedlight, and an off camera cord. That will at least get someone started and get that flash off the top of the cam where it is at its worst. You'll the be free to angle a little and bounce. Modifiers/flags can be made on the cheap out of a host of materials.

    Back to the lighting kits - for the ultra cheap ones, I have seen some of the stands fall apart. If the price is too good to be true be wary. One girl know bought a "kit" from some company with hotlights and they were nothing more than workmen's utility domes from the Home Depot. Crikey you'd be better off going to HD first!

    When you buy gear, everything must have it's place and purpose. Never buy a piece of equipment where the function must be questioned (i.e. "well I don't know what this is but it looks cool so must buy it") If you don't know exactly what it does, you don't need it! You must at least visualize the potential use.

    Alien Bees - don't even get me started. Many MWCs (moms with cameras) get sucked into these because of the pretty colors. Then they get them, don't have a clue, and I get the phone call. Oy!

  12. Thanx Guys this is Great Fun ... really enjoyed watching and reading ..
    found you from a link on Kenrockwell.com looks like you made the big league ...

  13. Dan, the big league...AWESOME hopefully I'll be better at this than I was at little league!! Glad you're enjoying it...stay tuned though...we have a lot more to come!!

    Niagaragirl...I couldn't have said it better myself, especially the "Oy" part!!!!!! Marketing now a days rocks...I mean this is what they are basically telling you...buy this camera it's the best and next month by the newer model because the one we just sold you sucks and so on and so on and...you get the point.

    I have never been a happier photographer than when we came up with this backpackers studio...it took the lazy right out of me. I can not come up with an excuse to not take it with me. It fits everywhere, works amazingly well and it's CHEAP!! I honestly believe that it has made me a better photographer which is a good thing.

    Dodgekr, Tom Cruise...I gotta say it's not the first time I've heard this!!

    Brian...thanks for the link I totally forgot about that. Let's see how I do as a bag designer! Have a good time today and ask hard questions...make sure there is smoke coming out of that blonde head!! Although be careful because I think his hair gel is flammable and that could make it ugly!

    One final thing, do you want me to post pictures of all the gear so that you see what it looks like?

    Let me know.

    Alright folks...stop reading immediately...i said immediately...why are you still reading...this isn't funny...



  14. Pics would be great Andy, a video showing all the different stuff and talking about it would be cool too!

  15. ANdy - Pics be great. When I have to park and haul gear for several blocks sometimes I am always at odds as to how to handle lightstand etc, so any hints would help. Remember I am a 5'4" female ha ha ha.

    On marketing etc - Yes get the newest, biggest and best new camera. If your pics suck now, they will suck just as much with the new cam except at a higher resolution.

  16. CamLS,

    I got Michael shooting the video as I type this. I put up some pics but they don't really show the gear in action which is not a good thing. The softboxes are amazing and these pictures make them look...well like regular softboxes. In the video we'll show how portable they are. Also will try to show how easy they mount and fold/unfold which is their biggest point. Michael will talk all about this in the video...

    Niagaragirl, we always carry our lightstands in a tripod case that we have. I can't remember the model off of the top of my head but I'll get it and post links. It's worked extremely well for us because it fits, the 28" softbox and two light stands with extra room for toothpaste, Michael's hair gel and 2 toothbrushes.

    Oh on another note...sign up for the newsletter..we are trying to make this site as interactive with us as possible. We figured that the only way we will actually get people to shoot is if we can communicate as closely as possible. So newsletters and SKYPE at your service!!!


  17. For wireless triggers I've found the Yongnuo RF-602's extremely reliable and much cheaper than the established names. Who can beat $57 for a trigger and two receivers at 100% reliability and an over 100 meter range?

  18. Schorschi,

    I heard about them...and the truth is I told Michael to order us a set while he was in the states to see what all the fuss was about...especially since we would be able to use the SB-600 with them but the delivery was too long. Why don't you do us a huge favor and maybe make a little video, we'll post it and tell people about them. We'll put it on our flickr group, which you should join anyway and post picks. We really want to turn this site into people who love photography...not gear!!!

    Another thing, I don't mind chinese...crap my Ipod is chinese...but how long have you had them. I kow that in our experience China is good for short term, but heavy use...not soo good. Our heavy use is 100,000+ photos a year, so I do't know. Can't recomend something I haven's used!!!

    Thanks for posting...keep following and sign up for the newsletter, we're going to be sending tips, videos and other crap that won't be posted!! Just stuff for our true fans that love to lighten up and shoot!!!


  19. Andy and Schorschl,
    I just got the 602's in as well. They seem to work fine but the construction is NOT to the same quality as the cyber syncs Michael had at the workshop. That being said they do seem like a step up from the old ebay trigger but I highly doubt the foot on them will hold up to much abuse, the switch also seems a bit like it will be the weak point as it wears (fyi I am rough on gear so I tend to be a little more critical of it than most, its a tool to be used not a little piece of electronics I should need to protect). Ultimately I think they will serve my purpose which is to get cheap triggers now and save up to see what the next generation of trigers has. I like CLS due to being able to control it from the camera (even in manual mode, comes in handy with flashes shoved in hard to reach places) but being in florida bright sun I really want a trigger that will allow me to high speed sync so I can make the sun go away during the day, 1/250th of a second just doesn't do it:)

  20. Brian and Andy,

    When we need a writer to submit articles on gear or edit our rambliings, Brian is the man! Great piece and thanks for the info. Can you shoot some video and submit it to us?

    A little tip on how to pack the 602's (or cyber syncs): get some of those small bubble wrap bags; shove the 602 in the bubble wrap bag and don't worry about where you put the thing. My backpack is usually crammed full, so I like the protection for my cyber syncs (even though they have a rugged design).

    Chao pescao

  21. Michael,
    Awesome Idea with the bubble wrap, best part is they come shipped in it! Ill shoot some video for you no problem, give me a few days and we will get it up as long as you wont mind it being cross posted on my site as well. Kara and I will gladly review any gear you guys want info on that we have. If there is anything in particular your looking for we don't have let me know and I will see if I can find one to test out.

  22. Michael + Andy,

    On light stands, are you guys OK with loosing over a foot going from the Avenger A625B (7.8') to the Manfrotto 5001b (6')?

    I've been on the fence over the Manfrotto 5001b vs. the 052BAC
    Manfrotto 5001B = 6', 4lbs., weighs 2.0 lbs
    Manfrotto 052BAC = 8', 11lbs., weighs 2.8 lbs

    One down side on the 052BAC, another $20.


  23. Michael,
    Sorry 602 review has been delayed, had some stuff pop up but dont worry Ill get it to you, as well as some new shots for flickr group of a shoot I should be doing on wednsday:)

  24. Hey guys thanks for the video update. I wanted a real life look at that 50 incher. I need to update a softbox here that was hopelessly damaged so maybe that will be the new one. -Libby

  25. P.S. I think it is Jay Maisel who says, "The more you take the less you shoot!"

  26. Libby,

    The 50" is a great softbox. But, to be honest I have been using the 28" for the past year. I love it! I can't live without it. Watch our upcoming video that will break down specifics, including examples, of each modifier in our bag. Thanks for watching!

  27. +1 niagaragirl it was Maisel

    Andy Michael,

    Thank you for the video post! Did the lightstand/softbox bad you carry come with something you purchased or was it something you got separately?

  28. Will,

    I think I purchased the bag through Midwest Photo Exchange. I will do some research and post info on part two of this series. Basically, any bag will do...this bag is just big enough for two small light stands, a softbox and an umbrella. I can also squeeze in a few grid spots when I need them.


  29. Guys,

    Just replicating the back pack (literally)

    So sadly the links to earn you a few pence seem to be US specific or incur significant import tax/shipping costs to the UK, so I found a couple of local websites.
    I plan to order the following from www.fotosense.co.uk

    Manfrotto 5001B Black
    Manfrotto 026 Lite Tite Swivel and Umbrella Adapter
    Manfrotto 143S Flash Shoe - 1/4 inch Male Attachment
    Lowepro SlingShot 100 AW

    Now question time !

    If I buy the Manfrotto 143S Flash Shoe - 1/4 inch Male Attachment
    Is this the right sex ? for use with the Manfrotto 026 Lite Tite Swivel and Umbrella Adapter

    Having never owned anything at all like this I have no idea if it all fits !

    Cant seem to find westcott softboxes so im getting a bit lost finding a solution.
    If you get a chance any chance you can flick through the url above and suggest something as an alternative.

    cybersyncs ordered from switzerland (via ebay)
    currently bidding for a SB28, I cant believe how quickly these sell and how high the price reaches, having lost 3 so far with a bid ceiling of $140 !

    Do you think the 5001B will hold a D90 for the occasional night shot / family self timer

    Anyway thanks guys, really grateful keep it coming!

    Andy hurry up with part 2 :-)

  30. Dodegkr,

    The Manfrotto gear is standard equipment. Everything will connect just fine. I don't think you will be able to get your D90 on the 5001B (that is to attached flashes or a trigger. I'm sure there is a piece of gear out there that will allow you to get your camera on the light stand like a tripod. I just can't recall seeing one. I better ask Andy since he's the gear head of the two of us.

    Thanks for providing the link to where to buy in the UK!!! Great info!

    SB28 and SB80's have shot up in price...thanks to guys like me and Andy. Sorry about that. But, well worth the $140. There are cheaper alternatives: craigslist, older SB24, or the Vivitar 285 (which I just sold one for $40).

    We want to say that you don't have to have the specific gear we use. As long as the flash you buy can go in manual mode you are in business! If you can find some cheaper umbrella brackets and softboxes...go for it! But, we do stand behind the gear that is currently in the "Backpacker's Studio" It's been tested, used and abused...no problems!

    Hey, Andy and I have been talking. We want to organize a workshop in the UK. Have any ideas for us...we are ready! We will have a post up in the next day or two about this amazing workshop. Stay tuned for part 2 of the "Backpacker's Studio"


  31. Wow coming to the UK, sweet.
    being a total newbie I have no idea where the uk photo freaks hangout.
    What I can say is count me in on the workshop, have you ever been before ? any idea what you want to see/shoot ?
    I know a couple of guys that would love to attend the workshop for sure ..
    We can take you to a few places on the coast or in town, but its raining bigtime now !
    I have Andys email so when your closing to commiting to a date ping me a mail and we can do the finer points.
    Not enough room to put you guys up but happy to help organise stuff, hey dinners/wine on me!

    Getting those cybersyncs was a mission over here!
    Ha maybe you can get me one of those westcotts, for a fee !

    I will await Andys thoughts on the gear

  32. Hi! We need more videos! Anyway, bought the 28" Westcott. How do you get the thing to point down?? I'm seriously considering taking it to a seamstress and have her make the bottom zipper longer. Choking up on the flash doesn't seem like a good idea. Does the 50" have the same problem? Inquiring minds wanna know before spending the bucks.
    Keep up the good work.

  33. 18Z5L,

    You are correct that is a huge limitation of the westcott 28" and especially the 50". There are two ways around it, the first is to have an assitant that holds it tilted for you. The second is to place the umbrella shaft in further so that the speedlight is very close to the rear of the softbox and it will allow more mobility. The 50", only an assistant will help it bend down.

    Try it out...let us know!!

    More videos will be up soon!!!


  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. you can also c-clamp a second stand on the main stand (180 degrees). You may have to get a sand bag. This also works well. Essentially you are making a ghetto C-stand. Works really good!

    PS we might shoot a video of this in the future

  36. That 50 is a beast to tilt down on a straight stand, I just broke down and bought a bogen 420B convertible stand. It folds like a straight stand but then turns into a boom stand with a sandbag attachment at the end. I haven't done a shoot with it yet but I think its a promising way to get the job done and its not as bulky as a dedicated boom stand with grip head and boom. Ill try to get some pics of it and post on flickr as even the bogen catalog I looked at didn't really describe how it folds up and functions as a straight stand

  37. I haven't been able to purchase a softbox yet butin't a white umbrella just the same?

  38. At what price point is a new $129 LumoPro LP120 a better choice than a used Nikon speedlight?

  39. Hey Everybody,

    I am glad that Andy and I are inspiring everyone to think about gear and exposing people to different modifiers for certain effects. I want to stress that even the most basic set up can produce amazing photographs. One light is what I have used up until recently. Please get out and have fun. Lighten up and shoot. Even if you are only using available light. I may do a shoot in the next week or so using only available light. So, keep the comments rolling in..but remember, lighten and shoot!


  40. Hey Michael,

    How about a post on what can be done with just one light?

    I currently have one SB-600, a stand (actually a tripod for when I shoot IR with a Ricoh GX100--aka a small super compact) and that's it. I'm sticking with Nikon CLS for now as I'm the only shooter.

    As far as gear, I'm going with a stand first, and the minimum (stand and umbrella, etc.). But first, I'm still trying to conquer the ratio of distance, power and aperture--it's been a killer so far. I'm working on a simple chart to tape to the SB-600 (I found one, but I want to improve it a little so I can work it faster).

    Anyway, thanks for the inspiration! I actually like that your site is a little less gear focused than the Strobist and loads cheaper than the OneLight workshop (I'm considering the DVD). You guys seem to be the love children of David and Zack!

    One last thought, how about a Flickr group so we can all post our stuff that you guys have inspired?

  41. Anonymous (Dec 4)

    I'm thrilled that we are inspiring and teaching people with our videos. We love doing this!

    I prefer using one light because I am lazy. Remember that available light can be a light source and so can some tin foil taped to a piece of cardboard (reflectant). Think about that for a second...one speedlight, available light source (the sun or a maybe a street lamp) and a reflector. That is a total of three light sources!!! Hmmm...endless possibilities and fun!

    re: distance, power and aperture. Watch our speedlight series for information. We have two more videos coming soon to complete the speedlight series. Stay tuned.

    We have a flickr group called lightenupandshoot. We would love to see your photos.


  42. I really appreciate that you take the time to explain things so us beginners can really understand and keep it simple. Your moto of “lighten up and shoot” is like my own take on photography. I like to keep it simple , and use the least amount of equipment as possible and your backpackers studio is perfect.

    I have a money making idea # 11,232 for you, take all the videos and merge them all to a single downloadable video that costs a paypal donation to access.

    Again thanks and looking forward to more videos and tips.


  43. Love the info from both of you. I just got my 28" Apollo and love how it folds like an umbrella. I have CyberSyncs on order coming next week. Actually I was done with buying any more photo equipment for the year, but really wanted to expand my experience. Thanks for the inspiration and empty wallet.

  44. Thanks for being so open in your sharing - really appreciated!

    I'll certainly give this big westcott 28 inch a try, as soon as I find a way to have it delivered for cheap to France!



  45. Sweet, the cybersyncs arrived from switzerland today and so did the lowepro aw100.
    My colleague is off to the usa tomorrow so hopefully if he remembers he will bring me back a 28" westcott.
    All i need now is that ebay sb28 and i can finally go shoot.
    watch this space guys....
    hey andy any chance of that hires/metdata pic we spoke of ...

  46. just reently made some money and will be able to order some westcott equipment from bh i'm from switzerland so its somethin special....

    what would u recommend for my 2 nikon sb26 ...

    2 50inch apollos or one 50inch + 1 28inch?

    will be buying 2 60inch umrellas (shootthrough with blackcover) too

    any tips?

  47. oh man, what have you guys done to the sales of used speedlights!

    just lost another sb28 on ebay this one made $165!

    3 days till the next one ends..

  48. theV,

    I would buy one of each of the softboxes so I would have the best of both worlds. The 28 when I need portability, the 50 when I need the extra light. But, this will depend on the type of photography that you do.

    You would also be covered with the umbrellas to give you extra light when you need it so it might be overkill to get two 50's.


    Craparoni I completely forgot about the picture, you will have it tomorrow.

    That is wayyy to high for a used SB-28, another option are the Sb-26 or SB-24. I'm sending some links to your skype now and hopefully you'll win. Also, alot of people like the Vivitars but I've never used them personally.


  49. man the next one is at 167 with 3 days to go !
    looking forward to that email andy.
    keep up the good work guys, your awesome.

  50. Yay finally I have an ebay sb28 in my hands!
    Tonight I shall finally play!
    Andy where's the pic :-)

  51. Dodegkr,

    Crap I keep forgetting your picture...you will have it tomorrow (I know I keep saying this). Congrats on the flash....now let's see some pics!!!! Flickr those bad boys...or girls!!!


  52. Andy,

    What brand/model # of the bag you use to keep all your lighting equipment in??


  53. First of all,
    Andy & Michael, thank you for this inspiring blog and sharing your passion.

    Could you tell us a bit more about the printer set up you're using?

    It would be great to print the photos on the street just like you guys do.
    I've been thinking about Canon Selphy with a battery pack but I've no idea how many prints the battery will last.
    Any recommendation and tips from your side would be very appreciated. :)


  54. I would also like to know what brand/type of bag you are using for your light stands, as I ride my mountain bike a lot of places, and any feedback on that bag would be appreciated.

    Or if you could recommend another bag, please do!


  55. Tim,

    This bag is perfect for mountain biking or any kind of travel for that matter. I bought it from Midwest Photo Exchange about two years ago. not sure if they still sell it...call them:

    32" or 33" Giottos


    Future modifications: beef up the area where the strap meets the body with some heavy duty stitching. Add some padding to the strap.

  56. Thank you for the reply. I was looking at those Giottos bags, however, I measured my Westcott Apollo 28" to be 36" in length when folded up, therefore I disregarded the 33" model bags.

    You think the bag is actually a little larger than the advertised length?

    Thanks again.

  57. tim,

    Hmmm...maybe I am off on my measurements. Because the 28" fits just fine in my bag. I don't have a tape measure in my apartment...I will have to find a way to measure tomorrow.


    PS give Midwest a call anyway. I do like the Giottos bag...well made and I think it was fairly cheap.

  58. Wow fast reply, thanks. I would really, REALLY appreciate it if you did measure it =). They do look like good bags.

    I just recently bought two 28" Apollos along with two Lowel Uni-TO light stands, which IMO are better than the 5001B from Bogen. So now all I need is a bag to carry them.

  59. You guys seem like you have a great sense of humour so I joined your flickr group with a pooping dog as my first contribution, hope you dont mind ;-)

    Keep up the good work, I'm learning a lot!

  60. I just watched all your vids, again. Thank you for giving back. Getting a couple of flashes and softboxes in January.
    I already sell alot of action and team posters to my local high schools(3). No one else does them here. Now I am going to try some portraits and add the funk that is missing from the regular senior leaning on the tree photo's.
    I will buy the equipment from your links;)

    Thanks guys,

  61. Thanks for the post great stuff.

    The only thing I don't get your flash strategy, let's say you need 3 off camera flash and you need to remote control all them.

    So with your setup you need 3x SB28 ($125 each) + 3 receiver ($70 each) + 1 transmitter ($60) = total about $650

    On other hand you can buy 3xSB600 ($220 brand new!) = $660

    With the SB600 you can control all of them from your camera wirelessly out of the box, no extra cables, batteries, things to go wrong...

    Also just by your site is getting popular the SB28 price will go up :)

    So is the SB28 that much better?


  62. Another good alternative lens is a Nikon 35-70 2.8D ($500 used)

  63. how big of an issue is the limitation to tilt the box down? also I wonder if a box where you have the flash actually behinde the box is easier to change the power...!?

  64. Alex,

    I personally don't think there is much limitation with the limited range of tilt you get with the Apollo softbox. If you need some serious tilt have a friend assist or buy an expensive C Stand. Personally, I always seem to find someone that is willing to assist when I need a different angle that I just can't get with the softbox on a regular light stand. -Mikey

  65. Hey Guys,

    Love your blog and your videos. I only wish I had discoverd this blog six months ago, I would have saved myself a few hundreds of dollars in equipment that I dont need.
    With that said, one of the pieces of equipment that I purchased is a light meter. I couldn't pass the deal up. I was able to purchase a new Sekonic L-358 for $220.00 CAD. They sell for over $400.00 up here. But do I need it? Do you use light meters and if so, when would you use one?


  66. Alexander, yes the tilt can be an issue. Here is how I solved it: Two umbrella holders with a eight inch 5.8 hardwood dowel between the two. The top one holds the Westcott and flash. Place the dowel between them making the bottom umbrella holder is just outside the Westcott 28 allowing me to use it to tilt. Life is good.

  67. Mike & Andy

    Great job! I've been frequent reader of your blog and love the videos. You made it seem so easy for average joes with strobist kits to take brilliant photos.

    I do have a question thou, still can't decide which size would be the ideal one for an Ezybox softbox. Either 24', 30' or 32'. Of course portability concerns me too.

    Any comment?

  68. Matt,

    Awesome to hear that you are a frequent reader! Andy and I love what we do.

    I have never personally seen the Ezybox so I can't comment on it. I can say that the 28" Westcott Apollo is our go to softbox. It pops up like and umbrella and will work on any lightstand. It is the perfect size for shooting one to two people and is totally portable. the next size up is their 50" Apollo (a giant beautiful light source). I believe we have links where to buy in this post. Of course we have an affiliate with them and if you buy from our site we make like 5 cents (but every bit helps to keep this site going for free!)


  69. Hey Mikey,

    Thanks for the tip. I'd be happy to buy through your affiliate links but unfortunately living in Europe won't be cost effective to ship from US. Anyhow I think your Amazon link no longer works.

    Depend on the stock availability, soon I will get the 30" or 32" Ezybox. I will do a review if possible and share with the public.

    Looking forward to seeing your next photoshoot videos.


  70. Mart,

    Where are you? I found a place in the uk that does the westcotts.
    I used them and it came next day delivery.
    I purchased my 28 from www.creativevideo.co.uk.
    As sadly like you It was a pain ordering from the usa.
    I got the cybersyncs from gotham in europe

  71. Hi dodegkr,

    I'm based in Ireland and I've looked around decided to go with a 32" Lastolite Ezybox Kit. For off camera flash, I already have the PW MiniTT1 and FlexTT5s. So far it's working perfectly for me, well I haven't tried any complex setup thou.

  72. if you guy's said about 90% less and did not laugh at your own jokes you would get 10X the traffic.

  73. wtf, these guys are cool, they got it right!

  74. Bought the 28x28 Apollo soft box per your golwing recommendation. Yes, easy to open, but a total pain to use. Light is uneven, can hardly tilt on swivel bracket, difficult to get at controls, etc. The bracket is poorly designed and my 580EXII fell off the poorly designed shoe mount bracket onto a hard floor. Lucky it didn't break. Unusable as far as I am concerned. I sent it back. It clearly doesn't justify your rave reviews.

    1. I am agree with you... About the uneven it's about one stop different.

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