One flash portraits for Nikon

Photo © Bob Krist
Photo © Bob Krist

Recently, I got a small gig from Nikon to shoot some “travely environmental portraits with the D90 and one SB600 that look like something an amateur photo enthusiast could do.” When they need stuff that looks like a pro could have done it, Joe gets the call!

But since I’m probably the only guy in the Nikon stable who doesn’t find using the D90 or SB 600 to be a hardship, I got the nod. Sometimes, it pays to be a simpleton.

Of course, the D90 is my main machine these days, so that was a no-brainer. The SB 600 did the job admirably. Once I got the hang of its menu navigation (yes, it’s different from the 800 and the 900), and realizing that I had about a stop less power to work with, it was smooth sailing.

It’s a bit smaller than the 800 and a lot smaller than the 900….If it had a receptacle for the SD-8A battery pack, I’d probably pick up a couple. Although 4 Lithium AAs did wonders in this unit.

Hit the jump to see a couple of other examples. Most of the keepers came using the SB 600 in slow synch, off-camera mode, with the D90 pop-up as the controller. I either bounced the unit off a wall, or through a white reflector or small umbrella.

Photo © Bob Krist
Photo © Bob Krist

This Post Has 27 Comments

  1. Bob,

    You’re being too hard on yourself. I saw the video and your wrestling match with Joe was pretty close. A few more minutes and you’da clobbered him!

    BTW – Nice one light shots!


    1. Hi Jeff: Despite our on camera wrestling matches, Joe and I have a mutual admiration society that goes back almost thirty years!

  2. I love what you did with ONE light. This is some good stuff especially when it is such an easy rig to transport. Great images as always Bob.
    I did this shoot a little while ago sticking an SB600 on the roof of the old train and using PWs to trigger –
    I think it did the job !!

    1. Great job, Arun. I liked your Savannah stuff too!

  3. I loved your video..I just think you were out of shape. I think if you trained for a few weeks …no problem. He is going down! Nice pics btw!


  4. Hi Mr Krist,

    Thanks and very inspiring. I have 3 flashes and 5 lenses but always feel like I need more.

    Are you using a lightstand or that handheld 27″ umbrella?

    1. Jeff: Mostly it was a 38″ umbrella on a stand, but the stain glass artist was the little handheld umbrella.

  5. Bob,
    Coming from you that means a lot
    thanks again

  6. Bob,
    As a just-for-fun photographer, I’ve found the SB-600 to be a fantastic flash that has never let me down. BTW, where will the results of this assignment show up?

    1. Dana: They’re for an updated version of a little Speedlight brochure that Nikon has had out for a while. Don’t know which of the 8 situations I did will show up in it. Bob

  7. Bob, you’re going to go totally nutz when the Nikon version of the PocketWizard ControlTL™ system comes out soon. On July 4, did a day-long shoot for a certain Philly tourism entity, with assistant, and had impossibly-consistent results with the C-brand version: bright harsh sun fill, late evening soft fill, you name it, perfection every single time, all auto-TTL, on-camera command for amount of flash, and distance to flash never an issue.

    1. George: I’m looking forward to the PW version. I wasn’t thrilled with interface of the RadioPoppers…too touchy and poorly documented. You had to call in to get a full set of instructions. Hoping the PWs are simpler. Do you have sheath your Canon flashes to make them work with that system?

  8. Bob,

    great shots (would not expect less from you) Any Ideas what to do with SB24-26’s they are to light for book ends.


    1. Jerry: Those units are great for using in manual setups and I wouldn’t get rid of them. They are still useful, just not in cordless TTL setups.

  9. Bob
    Great examples of maximizing the potential of your gear! The latest & greatest isn’t always needed to get the shot.

  10. Bob, I loved the Nikon videos you did with Joe. For a while I had owned a D70s/SB600 combo and worked CLS successfully with the pair. Then Joe came into the picture and within a year, I got another Nikon body, a few more prime lenses and a handsome collection of location studio gear. I blame Joe (and you) for this ! The beauty about progressing with photography, esp. once you discover newer and better ways to shooting and releasing that creative energy within oneself, you do go back. But when you don’t have the patience of your subject and when time is really limited, I still shoot CLS with one flash. Thanks Bob for sharing. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to do that.

  11. Bob, your opinion on PW vs R’poppers. David Tejada says the new Radiopoppers are great but from what I understand, the US/Can version cannot work in Asia (where I am). However, a colleague told me that the Austalian/EU ‘poppers which will be introduced shortly, WILL work in Asia. Still new about all this. My Nikon CLS system is working just fine. I am looking into PWs too. Seriously, are you leaning more to PWs yourself. Your thoughts please, Bob. Tks.

    1. Joe: Thanks for the kind words. When things get beyond the CLS capabilities, I’ve been going manual with PWs. I’m anxiously awaiting the PW version of the TTL cordless control, as I’m sure it will be well designed, and easier to maneuver than the RPs.

  12. I am so happy when Joe told us you were blogging. Way to go, Bob !!!

  13. Hello Bob,

    I have only started reading your blog very nice work indeed. My D70s has just died and need to get a new body. So Iam interested in what lenses you use with your D90?

    1. Scott: Well, I have a bunch that I use. But the two I currently favor for travel are the 16-85VR and the 70-300VR. Through a couple of fast primes, like the 85mm and 35mm f/1.8s, and you’re covered for just about anything.

  14. Bob,

    Nice work, I have been following your blog for awhile now, and really enjoyed this post. I consider myself a Travel Photographer and Photojournalist by title (and passion!), and have always sought simple, compact, and affordable equipment. I was pleased to hear your thoughts on the D90 b/c I find it to be the perfect tool for street/travel photography, due to it’s size and reliability! A great camera all around!

    I recently began incorporating strobes into my workflow and have looked to your work along with Joe’s blog and the flash techniques of David Alan Harvey in order to gain a better understanding of what I can accomplish as a journalist with basic/portable lighting equipment.

    I have a number of examples posted below showcasing images I shot using the Nikon D90, w/ 18-105VR lens and a single SB 600 flash w/ StoFen diffuser.

    I would love to hear any feedback you might have on these and how I might improve my flash technique or equipment choices.

    Cheers, Jeremy

    1. Hi Jeremy: The stuff you have up looks good. I think the only way anyone can improve their flash technique is to practice, practice, practice. That’s the only way I can make any progress. cheers, Bob

  15. Hi Bob,

    Nice Job.. I just ordered SB600 and 50mm f/1.8. getting them Tuesday. I am going to try it at a cultural festival at my university. So i will be using it as the main flash on hot shoe (with a flash diffuser). Any ips will be highly appreciated. This is the first time I am going to do some portraits.
    Keep up the Good Work!

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