When it came time to create a thumbnail for my YouTube upload today, I went with the spotting scope taken strobist style. I theorized my flashes would light things well due to the overcast, although rain forced a premature retreat. I have very few outtakes, although I hope this one attracts some attention in the boring sea of Google images. Let me know what you think. I wish I had more time to adjust, but here’s a quick look at what I did and why.
Setup from Behind
One of the challenges in outdoor photography is pulling the subject out of what is often a relatively confusing background. Take a look at the scope body around the objective lens. That white ring of light makes it stand out, despite the dark water behind. Now look at the black adjustment knobs, where the same is true on their front face. A sliver of light is also on the Picatinny rail atop (toward the back).
That’s accomplished by placing a flash behind and to the right of the Vortex Viper Spotting Scope. I used my Canon 580EX II dialed up to full output (it was about six feet away, after all). Pocket Wizards remotely triggered it from my Canon 5D Mk4.
The preliminary result wasn’t exactly breathtaking, as you can see to the right. Nice rim light, but the front is dark and ugly. Yes, I take everything in RAW so I could pull that out, but I risk noise and why not complete the spotting scope taken strobist style project with style?
So I broke out an ancient Nikon SB28 that’s my outdoor workhorse. I might have it buried with me if no one in the family claims it first. I then connected it to a third Pocket Wizard, turned it to 1/8 power and placed it between the scope and the camera, to the left.
Toughest Part of a Spotting Scope Taken Strobist Style
I sprayed water on the Vortex and had the Nikon flash on the ground. Moving it a single inch changed the reflection on the droplets, so I could have spent hours there. A light drizzle had begun, though. I had to move move fast and caught very few outtakes from the session.
I took the photo above last before the rain and it’s the one I uploaded to my Fear and Loading channel.
The image to the left was taken with the same setup. Notice how the water’s reflection on the scope has changed, the result of moving the Nikon flash only a few inches (closer to the camera, but still to the left). The difference is dramatic, don’t you think?