Plan Bee and Plan B

I had a band shoot the other day. They are a rock band here in NYC named Stereoboro. A really cool group of guys. Very down to Earth and easy to talk to. I find most musicians are this way. This was actually a re-shoot because our original shoot didn’t pan out. We lost too much light, too fast(daylight), and I really didn’t care for the resulting images I made of them that day. I explained to them how we lost the light, and suggested to re-shoot it. They agreed, and in turn, we set up a date.

img from first shoot

For the re-shoot, I made sure everything was in place to make some great images. Locations, equipment, and a great time of day when we would have plenty of light. I was bringing out the Bee’s for this shoot. I have more lighting flexibility with the Bee’s. I brought the AB-1600 and the AB-800. I also brought two SB-800 speedlights. The weather for the day of the re-shoot was great. The band arrived on time, and I was already set up.

We all greeted each other, and spoke for a few moments. I gave them a few minutes to themselves, while I positioned my lights. I had the AB-1600, pointed into a 60 inch umbrella in reflective mode, up high on a C stand, camera right. Wanted to get a great amount of light to wash over the band. Now we are ready to start shooting. Im ready, viewfinder to eye. They’re ready, posing. Click…. OK, I have an image, but the flash didn’t fire. So, I hit the test button on the transmitter atop the hotshoe of my D700, and, …..nothing. Brought the strobe down, and, yes, you guessed it, blown flash tube. Ok, not a big deal, I have my AB-800 with me.

I tell the band to take 5 while I switch strobes. I pop the trunk of my car to grab the AB-800. I glance at the flash tube of the AB-800 and notice the bottom contact prong of the flash tube looks weird. I pull it from the strobe, and it was toasted. Yes, this flash tube was gone too. And before I get people jumping down my back, yes, I do test my lights prior to a shoot.

Pie on my face, check! A little embarrassment, check! Dilemma, umm, Yes! I have two strobes with blown flash tubes. Ahhh, (in my head with a Yoda voice), “But worry not young Padawan, for two SB-800’s have you”.  Ok, I’m a Star Wars fan, but I digress. I grab the two SB-800’s and mount one to an umbrella adapter and then onto the end of the boom arm, which is mounted to the C stand of course. For the second SB, I have to get creative. I never travel with at least one Manfrotto Justin clamp. That clamp will save your butt on numerous occasions, and often. It has a built in ball head and a cold shoe that the SB-800 foot slides into easily, and it’s nice and snug.  I mount the second SB to the Justin clamp, and clamp it to the side of the umbrella bracket, where the first SB is mounted.

Problem solved. Two SB-800’s are powerful enough to light a small group. I test them out, and of course they work. No knock against my AB’s, but Nikon just builds the hell out of speedlights. The great thing with Nikon speedlights is that I have some great flexibility in the fact that I can use them in TTL mode with my SU-800, or I can trigger them in SU-4 mode(manual) with my Cybersyncs. I have two SB-800’s firing into that 60 inch umbrella now, one with a Cybersyncs receiver, the other as a slave, and we finally get the shoot rolling. Wiped the pie off my face, so to speak, and knocked it out with two speedlights. Day saved, minus Superman!!!

Give Stereoboro a look and listen at

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