TWiP #146 – Living Large with Small Strobes

This week: Apple and Adobe update their software and a discussion on small strobe photography with's Syl Arena.

Hosts: Frederick Van JohnsonSyl Arena, and Steve Simon


Syl is on the show this week to talk about working with small strobes. Steve also returns this week from his world travels which included the Olympics and Paralympics in Vancouver and Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai. Steve noticed a large degree of interest in small strobe lighting. Syl thinks that there is more interest in the small strobes because they are easier to use these days and there is more information available out there.

Fred asks Syl if he thinks that the smaller strobes can replace the larger monoblocks. Syl believes that they can and in some cases they can do more than the larger monoblocks can. In particular, their ability to do high-speed synching. Steve agrees and thinks that it's also due to the higher ISO capabilities of the latest cameras so you don't need the power that used to with the monoblocks or in some cases you don't even need flash. Learn more about this event at

Fred also wonders if you need that pop of light with the high ISOs and the increased popularity of video lights. Syl doesn't think it matters how you make the image – as long as you make a great image. If there is great available light then Syl prefers to work with it but there are still limits to what our cameras can do so things like HDR and small strobes allow us to reproduce things better than our camera can do alone.

Speedlites vs. Monoblocks

Speedlites are shaped differently from monoblocks so the shape of light you're getting from those flash tubes is different. A monoblock can fill up a softbox better than a single Speedlite but if you get several Speedlites together, you can create the effect of a giant softbox.

Adobe Releases Adobe Camera RAW 5.7 and Apple Releases a RAW Compatiblity Update
Both Adobe and Apple release updates which include support for new cameras. Historically, Apple has been slow with their updates so Fred is encouraged to see Apple releasing updates more quickly and thinks the competition between them and Adobe is good.

Jeff Wall Sells a Photograph for $1,000,000
Fred thinks it would be better to sell 1,000,000 prints for $1 to gain more exposure. Syl isn't surprised as there have been other examples of things such as wine, paintings, etc that have sold for more than that.


Milton Gan writes: I'm ready to buy a new MacBook Pro but I'm unsure which type of display will be better for post processing. Glossy or matte? I know it's subjective and both have merits, for example more vibrant colors on glossy vs matte, but as pros – which do you prefer?

Steve: I think the appropriate response would be to go anti-glare with a matte screen but I have a glossy screen that I've been using and I really like it. As long as your screens are calibrated then you should be fine. Syl uses a matte screen but agrees with Steve to go with your intuition and go with what you like best.

Charles Knowles writes: Is a mechanical shutter still required in today's digital cameras

Syl: Anything is possible if you throw enough money at it. That technology is out there – the question is when will it become widely available.


Syl – the Droid Incredible and it's new camera

Steve – Hoodman Photoframes – glasses that have a lens which flips up on the viewfinder side

Fred – Derrick Story's training in Aperture 3 on


Steve Simon – or

Syl Arena – or or

Frederick Van or


Bandwidth provided by Cachefly. Intro Music by Scott Cannizzaro

Show producer Aaron Mahler at or

Show notes by Bruce Clarke at or

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