It’s Time for Canon and Co. to Stop Making Flashes

Half-hearted attempts at making flashes and other lighting accessories are not winning anyone over.

To get ahead in many photography genres, photographers need to learn how to light using flashes and strobes. Fortunately, you can buy excellent (and affordable) gear from the likes of Godox, Flashpoint, Westcott, Profoto, and others. All of these companies have been innovating in this space, and they have found a way to bring costs down. However, first-party companies have become incredibly stale when it comes to making flashes. They still charge the earth for their lights too. A new announcement from Canon pretty much confirms our thoughts. Let’s talk about this after the break.

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Cheap Photo: These Low Prices May Help Ease Your Fear of Flash

Whether you’re just getting into flash photography, or you’re ready for some new gear, you need to check out these deals on strobes, monolights, and modifiers.

We at The Phoblographer are huge fans of flash photography, and we encourage everyone to give it a shot at some point. There’s no better time to get your flash photography gear: right now there are some deep discounts to be had. You can save $235 on the Rotolight AEOS Ultra-Portable Bi-Color LED Light, and you can save $349 on the Profoto D1 Air Studio Kit. The fantastic Flashpoint XPLOR 400 Pro TTL that comes with a Westcott Octabox is a steal at $649.99 Want something a little smaller? The Flashpoint Zoom Li-Ion (Godox V1) is only $259, and it’s available for all major platforms, and the Flashpoint Li-Ion Mini (Godox TT350) is just $79 for Fujifilm cameras. There are excellent deals on Glow and Westcott modifiers too. See what we found after the break. Continue reading…

Using A Reflector For Natural Light Boudoir Photography

Featured Image Is A Screen Grab From The Video Featured In This Post. All Credit To Jen Rozenbaum and Westcott.

If you have not heard; reflectors are a natural light photographers best friend. These handy discs help photographers bounce light, filling in the shadows on a subject in a pleasing way. Natural light photography is incredibly popular in the boudoir niche, and today we have a great video showing how to use a reflector to make the most out of the window light available. Continue reading…

Review: Westcott Flex Bi-Color Mat

There has been a growing trend in photography leaning more towards working with constant lighting vs strobe; and the Westcott Flex Bi-Color mat seems to really cater to that thought process. I mean, just look at lots of the photography out there and how much it’s involving the use of neon lighting with a portrait subject these days. There’s sure a look there that isn’t very easy to do with strobe. Though for what it’s worth, the Flex Bi-Color isn’t really designed to deliver “that” look. Instead, think of it as a giant Rogue Flashbender with LED Lights built in, a very solid frame, and a very simple control interface.

Then consider that the light temperature works in the same way that color temperature works with none of the tinting abilities and absolutely no reasonable way to gel the light.

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Cheap Photo: Killer Price Drops on Westcott Apollo

Today we have a line on some new Westcott Apollo brand price drops, these are great modifiers if you are using speedlights to light your images. Zeiss is also selling their Touit lenses for Fujifilm at a nice discount, so make sure to check that out as well if you are looking at third-party lenses for the X-Series.

Plus: Fujifilm 100-C just dropped back in price.

Quick Hits

  • Medium Apollo Softbox – $124 – Get It
  • Mega Apollo Softbox – $169 – Get It
  • Apollo Orb – $149 – Get It
  • Apollo Strip – $149 – Get It
  • Zeiss 32mm f/1.8 Touit – $499 – Get It

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Joel Grimes Shows You How to Make One Light Look Like Two

Screenshot taken from the YouTube Video

Screenshot taken from the YouTube Video

Photographer Joel Grimes is really one of the best in the business and he recently teamed up with Westcott to create a special tutorial video on making one light look like two. Joel uses a giant Westcott parabolic umbrella with a front diffusion panel (one of our favorite modifiers to use in our reviews). The interior is silver so it gives off a very punchy light.

Granted, that is a single light, but Joel positions his model against a big white wall and positions the light camera right with the wall camera left. The white wall acts like a giant bounce card that takes the existing light and bounces it back onto the subject to fill in most of the shadows.

It’s a very clever trick–but the positioning of all the elements is key to making it work.

The video on how to make one light look like two is after the jump.

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Photographer Joel Grimes Shows You How Effective Reflectors Are

Video thumbnail for youtube video Photographer Joel Grimes Shows You How Effective Reflectors Are - The Phoblographer

They have to be the most underused and overlooked light modifiers out there, but reflectors are also some of the most useful that every photographer should include in their kit. They come in many different shapes, sizes and colors to help you accomplish exactly what you need to do. Adding reflectors are also often a much better alternative to filling in shadows than slowing down your shutter speed is.

Photographer Joel Grimes recently did a video with Westcott featuring their Rapid Box (which we weren’t the biggest fans of) and showing us how a single light positioned above and in front of a model can illuminate them very well but can leave shadows under their chin–which can sometimes make the model look not as flattering depending on the situation. In the one presented in the video, it isn’t that terrible at all.

However, Joel also adds a reflector to the show and shows us a comparison between the two–and effectively demonstrates how the shadows are mostly eliminated.

What’s also important though is the model’s stance and pose. If you look at her during one of the side shots, you can see a bit of Peter Hurley’s influence in the way she sticks the chin out.

Joel’s video with Westcott on how reflectors kill shadows is after the jump.

Via ISO 1200

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Creating the Photograph: Nicola Bernardi’s “What the Duck is Going on?”


Creating the Photograph is an original series where we interview photographers about a photo that they shot and how it was achieved. The results are some knowledge passed on to you. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com.

Nicola Bernardi is a photographer that has been working on a hilarious series called “What the Duck is Going on?!“–which we partially discovered when looking through his work during a pitch to us. Nicola not only has the know-how to execute his creative vision, but he also has ideas that just simply work. The Melbourne based photographer is all of 26 years old, and has worked with brands that include Jaguar.

But as any photographer knows, doing personal shoots is what keeps your creativity alive. With that said, here is Nicola’s story.

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Five Light Modifiers Every Portrait Photographer Needs

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer NYCC New York Comic Con 2013 exports (26 of 84)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 5.0

There are some lighting modifiers that we really like, and then there are others that often blow us away and that we never want to send back. These modifiers often combine versatility, a specific look that’s done perfectly, and ease of use. But of course, they also just need to work very well.

Here’s a round up of some of our favorites.

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Essentials: The Environmental Headshot Photographer

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Essentials The Mobile Headshot photographer (1 of 6)ISO 2001-250 sec at f - 4.0

Essentials is a brand new series where we round up specially curated kits for different photographers in different situations. Other items could surely be substituted, but these are what we personally recommend. 

After taking a short break, we’ve decided to head right back into the Essentials for what we think an environmental headshot photographer would use. So what exactly do we mean by this? Well, here in NYC, lots of photographers like using a combination of natural/ambient light and blending it with flash. And due to the fact that they’re on location and sometimes without assistants, they tend to try to pack as lightly as possible.

While we often recommend using monolights, they aren’t as portable as a couple of hot shoe flashes placed in the absolute right positions to give the right amount of kick.

And for that, we recommend the following.

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Five Necessities for the New Strobist

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Essentials for th Strobist Street Photographer (9 of 9)ISO 2001-200 sec at f - 3.5

You’ve seen the light! Now you realize and value why off-camera lighting is so very important and all the creative benefits that can be had with using it. If you’re still new to this bright world, you’ll be delighted to know that there is so much more out there beyond the use of infrared transmission. Plus, you can shape your light to look so much better than a bare flash or bounced flash can.

Here’s a quick roundup of some excellent items that you may want to pick up.

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The Phoblographer’s Introduction to Photographic Umbrellas

Final Umbrella Image of Grace by Chris Gampat (1 of 1)ISO 2001-30 sec at f - 5.6

In our lighting guides so far, we’ve given you folks an introduction to lighting modifiers and also introduced you to ring flash. But today, we’re talking about a personal favorite: umbrellas. These lighting modifiers are one of the most versatile modifiers that can fill in the space of a softbox or a beauty dish, and they can embrace their own unique tendencies to spread light out in a large area. But because of their large size, it is sometimes very tough to get any sort of hard lighting out of them. As a quick refresher, hard light means that the shadows are very dark–where the converse is soft light, where the shadows are very light or almost non-existent.

In this guide, we’ll give you the skinny on all you need to know to get started with them.


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Review: Westcott White X-Drop Backdrop Kit

Wescott XDrop 20130815Gservo-7671

As I have grown as a photographer, I have taken on new styles. One of them is portraits, specifically head shots. As I was learning more about this style of photography, I came across the Westcott X-Drop. I had already purchased a portable backdrop kit, which was sort of big and in parts. The X-Drop is the total opposite of that, and not too expensive. It is extremely portable, and I could use the Westcott White X-Drop Backdrop Kit anywhere.  I purchased it, used it on an actual shoot, and here is what I thought.

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Review: Westcott Ice Light

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Westcott Ice Light Review photos (2 of 8)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 5.0

Westcott’s Ice Light was affectionately called the Light Saber by many–and upon first look one can easily think so. In fact, the light is often used in shoots that are meant to pay homage to the blockbuster film series: Star Wars. But surely, Westcott didn’t create the Ice Light just for some George Lucas fanboys. Like any lighting piece, it can be used in a variety of creative ways.

In a nutshell, think of the Ice Light as a light strip–a constant LED light strip that is quite a bit of money.

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Report: Using Fujifilm’s Newest Firmware to the X Pro 1 In Real Life Use

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lulu Left 4 Dead Witch Westcott Ice Light (7 of 22)ISO 8001-30 sec at f - 1.8

Fujifilm has been working on their X Pro 1 for a while via firmware updates. And the company constantly strives to improve the product’s autofocusing and other features. Since Firmware 3.01 came out, I was itching to try it out on something a bit more practical besides objects around my apartment and street subjects. Instead, I wanted to try it during an actual shoot.

As many veteran readers of this site may know, many of us are geeks and love the Cosplay world. And so when my friend Lulu wanted to dress up as the Witch from Left4Dead (if you’ve never played that game, you should), I figured that I should put Fujifilm’s newest firmware to the test.

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Review: Westcott Rapid Box Octa Mini

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Westcott Rapid Box product images (11 of 11)ISO 2001-100 sec at f - 5.6

Edit: After talking with Westcott, I learned that you can simply turn the inside ring and it will snap into place. However, it isn’t the simplest little thing to turn.

The Westcott Rapid Box feeds the addiction for portable and quick to set up softboxes for off-camera hot shoe flash users–or at least it tries to. The Rapid Box is a fusion between a collapsible softbox and a beauty dish. Since this whole strobist thing began, photographers have wanted small softboxes that are collapsible and have a great output.

Who better to do that than that Westcott? They’re Apollo Orb softboxes are legendary. And when they sent us their new Rapid Box Octa Mini, we were quite excited to give it a try.

And while Westcott nailed it on image quality, they didn’t quite hit the mark on functionality and practicality.

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Westcott Announces New Line of Pro Softboxes


Westcott has been known for their Apollo softboxes for a very long time and are used by many professionals that want excellent quality for a good price. Their umbrellas are pretty awesome too. The company is once again trying to make a mark with the announcement of their brand new Pro Softboxes. They’re pitching the new modifiers at both photographers and videographers, and come with a 5-year warranty.

As for the construction, they feature double layer heat shield fabric (which is essential for tungsten lights), sprung steel rods to keep the shape and form, and tent style vents. The softboxes come in a 36 x 48 for $169.90, 24 x 32 for $129.90, and a 16 x 22 for $99 at the moment. But there are more in the works with silver and white interiors.

Also be sure to check Adorama for their listings.

Creating The Photograph: Chris Gampat’s, “The Darkest Ballerina”

Final Umbrella Image of Grace by Chris Gampat (1 of 1)ISO 2001-30 sec at f - 5.6

Editor’s Note: Creating the Photograph is a new series that we’re starting where we interview photographers all about the photo that they shot and talk to them about how it was achieved. The results are some knowledge passed onto you. Want to be featured? Email editors[at]thephoblographer[dot]com

Much of the work that I feature on this site is my mediocre stuff simply because of the fact that I understand that not everyone wants to aspire to be a professional photographer or has ever been one. To that end, much of the images I shoot also have very little photoshopping or editing done to them. But at other times, I just want to create something. And I spent months developing the idea for the image you see above in my head.

This is the story of how I created that photo.

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Review: Westcott 7 Foot Parabolic Umbrella (Silver Interior)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Westcott 7 foot umbrella product photos (3 of 3)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 8.0

For years, Westcott has made some of the best modifiers out there. They’re well known for their Apollo softboxes designed for speedlites. However, they also make many umbrellas. I purchased a three umbrella package where I was able to obtain three 7-foot parabolic umbrellas for a very affordable price. And to date, my most used umbrella is the silver interior version due to the extra punch that silver gives to the specular highlights on an image.

But man, do you need some powerful lights to take advantage of the size.


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Westcott Announces The Cheesy But Effective X-Drop Backdrop Kit

I received an email announcing this backdrop kit and at first I thought… this is so cheesy but then I was sold on how easy and effective it seemed. I think it was the multi patterned backdrops that turned me off but the fact is Wescott seemed to have designed a very simple backdrop solution. Wescott calls the product the X-Drop and its aimed at the on the go location photographer.


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