Martin Prihoda is Back

For those of you wondering what happened to Strobist favorite Martin Prihoda, he's back. Never really went away, actually. He just deleted his (very popular) Flickr account to focus on his core photography website.

Martin made a video of himself shooting the musical group "Delerium" in Vancouver. He is using big lights here, but don't go turning up your nose. There is some good info for many of you both for now and for later down the line. And I especially like the advice he gives at the end.

Hit the jump after the movie for a little bit on how to translate this shoot to speedlights if you have suddenly misplaced your pile of Profoto 7B's...

Nice stuff, huh? But 1/250th at f/14? That's a little bit too pricey a light level for a set of SB's.

But before worrying about that, you'll need to mod at least one of your three strobes (the front one) to approximate Martin's wrap-light look. I'd use a shoot-thru umbrella, choked up a little so make the actual light source smaller than the full 43" size. You'll need to bring it in a little closer, too.

The rim lights, at 45 degrees, can be left bare if using SB's, but they will be a little harder edged than the 7" reflectors on the Profotos.

(IMPORTANT: Do not forget to gobo the rim lights to control flare.)

But what about the lofty shooting aperture?

It's all relative, actually. Since you cannot overpower the ambient daylight like Martin does with the big strobes, you wait until the ambient comes to you.

If you shoot after sundown in twilight, you'll have all the power you need to overpower the ambient with small flashes.

I'd be looking to aim for a target of, say, f/5.6 @ISO 400. That's easy to get even through an umbrella. Simply wait until the twilight dips below 1/250th at f/5.6, and start shooting.

Remember, you'll wanna underexpose the ambient by 1.5 - 2 stops. So just shoot at 1/250th as it gets darker, until it dips down to that nicely underexposed level at 1/250th. Then just start tracking the waning light by dropping your shutter speed (1/125th, 1/60th, etc.) as it gets darker.

Sure, maybe one day you'll have a set of Profoto 7B's, a generator and a mohawk faux-hawk. But until then, you'll just have to exercise a little patience and wait on the light.

Related Link:

:: Martin Prihoda's Website ::


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Anonymous Jason Janetzky said...

I found this video very intresting, its not often the photography explains exactly what he/she is doing to get the shot. More videos in this format are very welcome please strobists.

April 02, 2008 2:32 AM  
Anonymous Lynx said...

It's great to see someone with his attitude towards knowledge, especially in such a competetive industry.

April 02, 2008 3:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


If you shot this series at f5.6, would you have enough DOF to keep everyone in focus? Martin looked like he was shooting around 60-70mm so I wonder if at a lesser f-stop you could get the DOF that you need.

April 02, 2008 4:06 AM  
Anonymous Photographer Italy said...

Wow super and interesting, it's always a good idea to see how a professional build a shot.

April 02, 2008 5:35 AM  
Anonymous Toby Schuch said...

That was a fun shoot
Its good to see you featuring some local Vancouver talent.
(I was assisting Martin/helping with the lighting setups etc)

April 02, 2008 5:38 AM  
Blogger Crash said...

This guy rocks! Definitely more videos like this, keep up the awesome work MP.

April 02, 2008 6:56 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Dude, don't forget. Just overclock your SBs and 1/250 @ f/14 is CAKE!

April 02, 2008 8:06 AM  
Blogger Patrick Smith said...

Is that Chase Jarivs' brother? Ha. They look like brothers. And so I don't double post, but I think every April Fools joke ever got me. I was super heated about the Google (GMail) timestamp change idea. Ha.

April 02, 2008 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Ian said...

Great video, thanks to Martin for sharing. I really like all the informative vids that are appearing online and I totally share Martin's thoughts at the end there. Possibly as I've loads to learn myself :)


April 02, 2008 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting Martin's video. Since I can't see his work on Flickr (which, frankly and no offence, I think is a blessing), I went to his web site. I really don't like being told what to do. In this instance to 'disable my pop-up blockers.'

Why is it that the more successful a photographer seems to get, the more arcane and awkward and un-user-friendly their web sites seem to become?

There is a great scholar & writer who published a book on writing many years ago; he called it "Simple and Direct." His name is (I think he's still alive) Jacques Barzun and I think everyone who owns a website should read it. Certainly take its title to heart.


April 02, 2008 9:59 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Since we've found that overclocking is not an option. In the video Mr. Prihoda mentions that the Honda 'genny' is rented. I'd say most likely the Profoto gear is rented also. I'd guess you could rent all that gear for a day (genny, grip, lights) for about $500 or less if you really needed it.

April 02, 2008 10:12 AM  
Anonymous tobias said...

Great video and info. But is is just me who thinks the overhand camera grip looks kind of wrong. Especially on a pro-shooter like Martin :-)

April 02, 2008 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Paul Miller said...


Anonymous said...


If you shot this series at f5.6, would you have enough DOF to keep everyone in focus? Martin looked like he was shooting around 60-70mm so I wonder if at a lesser f-stop you could get the DOF that you need.

April 02, 2008 4:06 AM


Though, if you're shooting with a 1.6x camera, you can use shorter focal lengths, which translates to more DOF at f/5.6 for an equivalent image to a full frame 35mm DSLR

April 02, 2008 11:05 AM  
Blogger Chuck said...

Great video and great photography.

April 02, 2008 11:39 AM  
Blogger Mr. Eeve said...

Anyone know which lens he's shooting with? Looks pretty sweet.

April 02, 2008 11:45 AM  
Anonymous James said...

I'll have to watch this when I'm not at work. Mostly because Delerium is my favorite band. If you've never listened to them before, I highly recommend it.


April 02, 2008 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Allen Thomsen said...

Very cool. Thanks.
I think it's great that Martin, (and you!) would be so willing to share. I wish we could have heard the direction he was giving the band during the shoot.
Is that greedy? I mean look at all the info given and all I can think of is " gimme MORE!" Again THANK YOU!

April 02, 2008 1:27 PM  
Blogger David Bowens said...

It's really nice to see someone at this level who is willing to share... too often these days (cough cough you run into 'professionals' who seem more keen to push you to quit photography than to help you learn a better way to improve your photography. Everyone has to start somewhere. Scratch someone else's back, they will scratch yours. Sooner or later.

Thanks martin for the excellent video.

April 02, 2008 2:05 PM  
Anonymous D0o0fy said...

@Mr. Eeve: Looks like a CANON EF 35mm f/1.4L to me...

April 02, 2008 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Jesper Revald said...

Didn't he mention that the lens was a 24-70 2.8 on his 1Ds mrk III?

Great video, although I would have liked a little more "view" of the entire setup so we could see actual lighting positions etc.

April 02, 2008 5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Vid - Thanks.... How about some info also on the post production side of things.... Seems there is a fair bit done on these images.

April 02, 2008 7:02 PM  
Blogger TriBriGuy said...

Informative. Funny.

PLEASE keep these coming!

April 02, 2008 7:44 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Now, my day rate is nowhere near Martin's, so I'm speaking from a position of relative nothingness....

but that guy has no, I mean NO idea how to properly hold a camera. If nothing else, you might as well use the vertical shutter release on your
$8,000 camera, no?

April 03, 2008 1:12 AM  
Blogger phil said...

Are you suggesting that his work suffers due to the way he holds his camera?

April 03, 2008 2:04 AM  
Blogger David said...

", white courtesy phone, please..."

April 03, 2008 2:17 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

The proof is in the results. Who gives a f**K how someone holds a camera if their shots are great?

In lighting 101 David said something akin to "never let light get in the way of a good photo".

In this case I would paraphrase to say "never let petty things get in the way of appreciating a great photo".

If Martin's pictures are great (which they are), how can his grip be wrong? It's art... the end result is what counts.

April 03, 2008 5:09 AM  
Anonymous Serge said...

I really liked this video, very informative, thanks for sharing!

April 03, 2008 7:18 AM  
Anonymous Nicolas Henri said...

I totally agree with his closing statement! I would consider myself a semi-pro and most of what I know, i know thanx to some very helpful pros, sharing their knowledge with a nobody.

And yes, it's def. some sort of new business strategy. I'm being asked questions about my work all the time and I choose to answer best i can, resulting in many new and very friendly contacts helping me along in return.

good stuff this!

- Nicolas Henri

April 03, 2008 8:45 AM  
Anonymous scott m said...

Great video and photos. I have a questions about post-processing: The photos from this shoot, and many others on his website, have that familiar metallic/grainy look. Anybody know a good place to learn more about how that's accomplished?

April 03, 2008 2:42 PM  
Blogger Mr. Eeve said...

@Jesper Revald: Thanks for the catch. He did mention that after he showed his backup camera. I somehow missed it. Thanks.

April 03, 2008 3:33 PM  
Anonymous John A. said...

Glad to see Martin up and shooting. I loved the vid and hope he plans on doing more. More importantly, I loved how you (strobist) broke it down so that folks with cheaper strobes can emulate the technique. Thanks for posting the vid, and sharing your ideas as well, very cool!

April 03, 2008 7:06 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

For someone who is just getting their feet wet with off-camera lighting, this is a great contribution by a very talented photog. Every time I watch one of these videos I feel like I learn so much. I do have a couple of newb questions/thoughts though:
1. I *think* I get it: to get Martin's effect, dim the sun-lit background by using a small aperture, then properly expose the subject with a ton of off-camera light.
2. I can figure out where the rim lights are by the shadows from the legs, but the main light is tougher for me. It seems to light the faces but not the front of the bodies. Is just aiming his large soft light over the subject's head?
3. How much of the final image is post-processed? It certainly doesn't look like it's right out of the camera.

April 03, 2008 7:23 PM  
Blogger Abe said...

awesome stuff, well at least I have the Faux-Hawk already. Now I just need to get those 7B's haha and very expensive generator.

April 04, 2008 4:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what about if Radiopoper is used an hygh synching like 1/3000 then sun can be easily overpowered:-)
I hope to try theese soon :-)

April 04, 2008 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great video, but someone needs to teach that dude how to hold a camera properly. It's obvious he has no PJ experience. He'd get his camera knocked out of his hands in a hurry in a scrum holding it yeti-style like that.

April 04, 2008 10:17 AM  
Blogger Djon said...

What's flash duration on 7B? Old time studio strobes had long duration (eg 1/400th) by comparison to speedlites (eg 1/10,00th).

7B's probably far longer flash duration would make it harder to "overpower sun" than would a zillion speedlites :-)

April 04, 2008 10:44 AM  
Blogger Keith Taylor Photography said...

As Mike mentioned above... I would not be surprised if Martin rents all that gear. And yes... I would think that all that you see being used on the shoot lighting wise could be rented for four to five hundred bucks easy.

Rental houses are such a blessing if you have one near by... especially if you are just starting out in the biz. It just makes since to rent equipment when you need it and not go into debt buying it all and then paying interest on it when it is not being used.

April 04, 2008 12:32 PM  
Blogger Jeff Grandon said...

I got yelled at this morning at Photoshop World by none other than Joe McNally when he saw me holding my camera with my elbows out like that -- he did this chicken wing flapping thing afterwards to drive the point home. Ouch. I'm in good company with Martin I guess.

Trivia: you all know drummer Ashwin Sood is Mr. Sarah Maclachlan, right?

If you haven't heard Delerium, try them out, they are excellent, eh?

April 05, 2008 1:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, this is my first comment on your uncredibly helpfull blog.
My lack of English keeps me away from "the advice he gives at the end", could a generous soul write it down for me please?

A big big thanks to you!!

April 05, 2008 9:37 AM  
Blogger David said...

I'm pretty sure that thing that they didn't know what it was is an ambient light meter... I only know because I was looking up light metering and I saw a picture of something similar on the wikipedia page :P Anyway, just thought someone might have wanted to know that...

April 05, 2008 11:05 PM  
Blogger Castillonis said...

Martin, you rock :)
I enjoy being around people who share and are willing to help others. Sometimes I am fearful to share too much, but mostly I strive for excellence and help others around me. It makes me feel good and lends to a community atmosphere.

I forgot about Delerium. I have some of their CDs. Time to revisit :)

April 06, 2008 3:43 AM  
Blogger TheLegacyLady said...

Love your stuff here - came across this site - - would love to have you post about how he did the lighting with the runner under "summer sports" and the landscape...pretty cool stuff.

April 06, 2008 10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're going to post process the image that much anyway: why not shoot the people in a studio and drop in the background later. No need for the heavy equipment or reliance on the weather and the models would be more comfortable. Also, if the art director doesn't like the background you can easily change it.

April 07, 2008 8:01 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Jorgensen said...


I have been following stobist closely for the last year, and have posted to the pool in flickr several times, but this is my first post on the blog.

I had the opportunity to try out the technique outlined in this post with my speedlights this weekend and wanted to share the results. The shoot was for an article on a local promotions company for Pacific Magazine and when I saw Martin's images I knew it would be perfect for my shoot.

My technique is not perfect but i had a great time translating Martin's techniques to my little speedlights and am pretty darn happy with the results.

You can see the results and a setup shot on my flicker page here:

Hope you enjoy, feel free to email with any questions!


April 07, 2008 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Very inspirational video....share the knowledge, I like that. Keep it up and best of luck!

April 09, 2008 2:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK - I would like to shoot the same kind of pics. What is the post-processing magic to use to achieve this look (how exactly is it done).

April 18, 2008 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Martin's video was so interesting that I went to his web site to see more. The site is beautifully done, but I wonder if and how he obtained permission to use the copyrighted music of other artists (The Rolling Stones, Edith Piaff, et al) in his web advertising?
If he is paying them licensing fees for his usage as he talks about charging for his own work (under "Pricing"), then he must be doing much better than he lets on!

April 19, 2008 11:32 AM  
OpenID realitytourist said...

Nice video, it's surprising at the end to see how the images looked because you have NO CLUE watching the video what those pictures will look like. A typical "instructional video" would have been dropping in some progress still, so it was quite a surprise. The scene looked pretty crappy on video. :)

One criticism of the video: the cameraman kept the camera on our hero too much, instead of pointing it at the things he was talking about (like the strobe power pack controls), probably because of on-camera mic.

One question: was he powering everything off the one Honda? At $50/day, that's some cheap portable power, as long as no one minds the noise. I have White Lightning monolights, and would love to carry portable power.


August 05, 2008 10:02 AM  

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