It seems like these days if you’re a photographer and you’re not either blogging about lighting, writing a book about lighting, making lighting DVD’s or giving lighting workshops, then chances are you’re probably not very cool or important. Perhaps just an amateur fooling around with cameras in your spare time, hoping to become like the pros when you grow up one day. Everywhere I look there’s either someone writing a book on lighting, giving workshops or selling books and DVD’s on lighting. At some point even a Flash Bus got into the mix. When I first heard the term “Flash Bus” I thought it had something to do with “Bang Bus.” But then I got on the website and found out that it was actually worse than I thought: it was about lighting workshops being done by The lord of the Speedlights and Joe McNally. Both of them, together.
Now, you may not immediately understand why I think this isn’t such a good idea if you’ve never heard of them before, but these guys are absolutely nuts. I’m still surprised they somehow got approval for this project. These two guys together, traveling cross country on a bus to 29 cities in 6 weeks? That’s just asking for trouble. Who knows what kind of weird stuff is going to happen with those two together in a bus for 6 weeks. I’m telling you, if you see this bus in town, do NOT go near it. Trust me on this, stay far away. Especially if the bus is shaking and you see bright flashes of (colored) light coming through the windows. Just notify the authorities and let them handle it. You may want to head on over to the Flash Bus website, not necessarily to register for the workshop in your city, but to start checking when you need to get the hell out of your city before these guys arrive and things start to get bad. Don’t risk becoming their hostage for a day and being forced to work as a voice activated lightstand, or heaven forbid, their model.
Seattle appears to be their first destination so you folks from Seattle who’re reading this, time is of the essence. They’re probably already nearby so it’s best to stay in your homes, barricade the doors and make sure you have enough food for the next 5 days.
The picture of the Flash Bus above appears to be the first picture of the bus taken in the wild. It was emailed to me by a photographer who put a lot at risk to get this amazing shot. For obvious reasons the photographer requested to remain anonymous. If you look at the picture you can see The Lord of the Speedlights and McNally in the bus and their driver who goes by the name “Cool Breeze.” The name made sense to me when I saw the picture. According to the photographer he managed to snap this picture just seconds before they saw him and drove right into him. He dove off to the side and just barely managed to get away.
The Lord of the Speedlights and Joe McNally both also have new DVD’s out on lighting: Lighting in Layers and The Language of Light. They have what I think is a more stylized approach to off-camera lighting. In most cases you’ll look at one of their pictures and you’ll know it was made using one or more of their own lights. And in the case of Joe McNally, probably a crapload of lights (McNally’s rumored to own enough Nikon SB-900’s to light the Empire State Building). But it’s also possible to use flashes and make your pictures look like they were shot using available light.
And that’s where Neil van Niekerk comes in. I know you may have heard that you shouldn’t use your flash on-camera very often because it makes your pictures look like crap, but Neil van Niekerk has some excellent techniques that’ll blow you away when you see the kind of results you can get: pictures taken with on-camera flash that look so natural people will think they were taken in available light. That, and he’s somehow able to get a lot of beautiful women to pose for him. Most of the information is available on his blog (about the lighting techniques, not the women), and in his book on on-camera flash: On-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography. And just a few days ago, almost synchronous with the Flash Bus, Neil’s second book became available which is about off-camera flash: Off-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Photographers. I bought both books hoping to find information about how I could get beautiful women to pose for me, just like van Niekerk. But sadly I have to report that this information is not included. Perhaps he’ll focus on that in his third book. Meanwhile I’ll have to keep stalking young women on Facebook.
But what is most important to me as the technical advisor here at Canon USA when I look at all of this, is that all of these photographers are using Nikon gear primarily. Sure, you’ll find them occasionally briefly mentioning Canon speedlites and cameras here and there, but when they do I can’t help but feel as if they’re doing it just because they feel sorry for Canon users and don’t want them to feel left out. If you just look at what they themselves shoot with primarily, it’s all Nikon gear. And there’s a reason for that. We fucking suck when it comes to lighting and Nikon is way ahead of us. I don’t know what is taking those fucking morons in Tokyo so long but they had better come out with something new pronto. We need a new professional flash to replace the 580 EX II and we fucking need it fast. And it had better fucking come with RF based wireless flash functionality or as the Lord Jesus Christ is my witness, I’m going to go fucking berserk on their ass. Not too long ago I wrote about our ancient ST-E2 wireless flash trigger and mentioned how even the Chinese were way ahead of Canon Inc. with innovations in that area.
Back then I compared the ST-E2 with the Cactus V4. Well guess what, the Cactus V5 is already out. In the time it took the Chinese to develop the Cactus V2, V4 and V5, Canon Inc. has been unable to release an update to the fucking ST-E2 that can stand next to the rest of today’s technology without being laughed at. The ST-E2 uses a 2CR5 battery for Christ’s sake, talk about old! And they still want $230 for it, when you can get a Cactus V5 set with 2 transceivers for a mere $60. And the Cactus V5 will offer you many interesting possibilities, like a 100m working range (compared to the sorry-ass 10m of the ST-E2 with line of sight) and 100% reliability.
I don’t know what the fuck is taking those bastards in Japan so long, but if they finally release an update it had better fucking blow everything away. I’m talking RF based wireless flash triggers, a new pro speedlite with built-in RF wireless flash capabilities, full TTL and High Speed Sync support, Master/Slave functionality, 100m working range, and best of all, remote control of the speedlites from the back of the camera. I want all my fucking speedlites to show up on my camera LCD just like wireless access points show up on my computer, and I want to fucking add them to my own private network of flashes under my control, each with their own custom ID (so I know which is which). And then I want to be able to fucking select each one of them and be able to change their goddamn settings right on my fucking camera even if I’m 100 meters away! THAT is what I would consider true innovation. Not the fucking horseshit we’ve been seeing in the last few years.
God damn! I started writing this post laughing my ass off and now I’m pissed again. This always happens. As soon as I get reminded of those fucking morons in Tokyo my blood just starts to boil automatically. I’m going to get me a cup of coffee now before I end up in intensive care again.