Gary Fong, DIY alternatives, Sunpak 555 and Fashion Runways
I was shooting the Knoxville Fashion Week runway show last night. All I had for light was my trusty old Sunpak 555 speedlight - whose sensor on auto is very reliable - and a homemade diffuser, which I eventually jettisoned.
Many other "photographers" present were using Gary Fong light diffusers that look like tupperware jars attached to the flash. They were all shooting digital. Among other things, I did shoot several rolls of Portra 400 (at 800 ASA). There is no doubt that I was the only person shooting film in there.
The end of the runway was at least 25ft from the photographers, and the middle of the runway was probably 40ft or so away.
One older guy had his Gary Fong pointed at me - I was sitting behind him and the runway was in front of him - so I assume that at best he was using the edge of the light diffuser. My homemade diffuser was wasting light and draining the battery on my flash, hence my jettison - but I assume that that must also have been be the case with the myriad Gary Fongs. It seems to me that they are designed to optimise bounce flash -- you point them up at a ceiling and have a nearby subject, and the resulting light is part bounced and part direct. That doesn't work so well in a large hotel convention room with a farther away subject.
I got the impression that most people in the room didn't understand light, and if their Gary Fongs worked at the show, it is only because they chose high ISO's on their digital "cameras."
I am trying to figure the best "simple" lighting methods for similar shows. The ambient light is quite low, and multicolored. I have decided that the best approach is to use a flash strong enough to become the dominant light, but without totally swamping the ambient lights. But I want to do this without wasting light so as not to suffer attendant battery drain - so I am thinking something like a 10" X 10" speedlight softbox.
The trouble with that is that the 555's light sensor is right under the strobe, so would be blocked by such a softbox.
Any ideas? Is there a remote sensor for the 555? Alternatives to an on-flash softbox?