Dan Bailey: The Alaskan Studio


Yesterday we had more snow and single digit temperatures here in Anchorage, Alaska. And with calm winds during the past few days, all the snow that fell last week was still stuck to the all the trees. Basically, it’s winter wonderland up here in Alaska right now, especially since we’re about the only place in the country with any snow. Perfect conditions for outdoor photography!

Of course, the lighting conditions of reduced winter sunlight and overcast skies aren’t exactly ideal for outside portraits, so I decided to bring along the TritonFlash™ to throw some interesting contrast into the scene with my friend Jim.





Fast with Light

I’m really impressed at just how portable the TritonFlash™ is. I like to Go Fast With Light, just like the title of my new off-camera flash eBook says, and although I typically use SB-800s and 900s for these kinds of shoots, the TritonFlash™ definitely falls into the fast with light category.

The strobe head, swivel mount, lithium battery/power pack, OctoDome NXT softbox, and connector cable all fit easily into my LowePro Photo Sport 200 backpack, along with my Nikon D700, three lenses and a pair of PocketWizards. I use a down-filled pouch to pad and protect the flash head inside the pack, and on location, I keep the power pack inside it to help keep the battery warm. On the outside of the pack, I strap on a Manfrotto Nano Stand and I’m ready to go.


The Shoot

Since the location was close to my house, I just threw the pack on and rode over on my fat tire snow bike. Like I said, fast with light. Once we were there, it just took a few minutes to unpack and setup the TritonFlash™, assemble the OctoDome NXT, and start shooting.

As usual, the first few shots were nothing special, just working the bugs out, getting the exposure and lighting ratios right between subject and background. I tried some shots with the Lensbaby, but since it was so dark, I had trouble focusing, so I switched to the nifty fifty. Thinking back, I guess I could have used the 10 second modeling light feature on the TritonFlash™, which might have helped me focus manually and get this shot right.

I noticed that since the snow has absolutely ZERO light absorption, everything is reflected back. I had to aim the TritonFlash™ about 20-30 degrees upward so that it wouldn't’ throw so much light towards the ground. The 18” OctoDome does a good job spilling the light anyway, so I wasn’t worried about losing too much on Jim. Power on the strobe was anywhere from 1/16 −1/64 power, depending on how close I had him stand in relation to the flash.




Meanwhile, the snow kept picking up, but the OctoDome’s heavy fabric did a fine job protecting the flash head, so no big deal. Made the shoot more interesting, though, especially when the light from the strobe bounced off of the snowflakes.


A Wider Angle

Not entirely happy with what I was getting with the 50mm lens, I switched to the 24mm, had Jim stand in a new spot, repositioned the flash, and went at it again. Wouldn't you know it, the wide angle portrait wins again! Close subject with more than enough background for environment, and I don’t have to deal with all the white light reflecting off the snow at his feet.

Exposure info on this one is 1/50 sec at f/4.5. I think the flash was set to 1/64 power.


Here's another that was fun.


Tables Turned

Once we were done, I packed everything back up into my Lowepro pack, and then we switched modeling duties. Here’s one of the shots that Jim took of me with his own single flash lighting setup.


With the power and portability of the TritonFlash™, there are no limitations with where I can shoot!

To see more of Dan Bailey's work, visit www.danbaileyphoto.com

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