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Beauty and the Flash Tube Saga

So I was on location, at a neighbor’s friend’s backyard pool (sounds suspicious already doesn’t it), with a young and talented model. So far so good. Itching to go, I plug in my Quadra head to its pack, turn it on, press the test button. And nothing. Nadda. Zilch.

Brand new flash tube too.


I’ve realized how dependent I’ve become to this little Swiss beauty. Dependency is probably not good.

Plan “B” was either no flash (gasp) or go with a speedlight. SB-900 it was then.

Our model, Alexandra, brought some beautiful clothes and a great attitude. Works for me. Although I intend to do some heavy post processing on these images, with background replacement, for now I worked with what we were given (well, mostly what we were given ;)) and came up with shots like this:

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

I say “we’ since my bud Chuck was there photographing as well, with Dale assisting.

Alexandra was also a dancer (funny that). She brought her pointe shoes, and an attitude that didn’t hesitate when I suggested that the pool would look really cool with her in it wearing that white dress …

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

I confess I did miss the Quadra though. Not the most powerful of lights, it is still a studio head with about 3-4 stops of light (every stop doubles the light) advantage on that speedlight. As a studio head, its flash tube is large and exposed, meaning it can cover a larger area and do so evenly. And beautifully thanks to Elinchrom’s mods.

That spread of light and extra power means more flexibility. You could use more than 1 flash to achieve the same results if using speedlights, but more = more complex. More stuff to juggle, to go wrong. With the ambient and the way that I shoot I have an additional 2 lights already provided by the sun – fill and rim – so I generally get by with 1 supplemental light on location.

But you have to play the hand you are dealt. Such is life.

The good news is that, with a model such as Alexandra, technical issues are relegated to the back seat. She is also a reminder of how much I enjoy working with talented people. Then the tools don’t matter as much – which is the way it probably should be anyways.


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