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The Importance of Having Watt-Seconds

One of my biggest concerns with my speedlighting kit is whether I’ll have enough flash power to make a dent in broad daylight. Of course, using large lights is always an option but not always feasible unless you have a gimp to carry around several battery packs and heads. So when someone suggested we do a couple of shots into the high 2pm afternoon sun, I looked at my two speedlights and knew it wasn’t going to work.  Of course, I didn’t figure on the small armada of Nikon speedlights the students had brought with them, which in total added up to 6 or 7, I can’t remember.

What followed was a small debacle that ended up with a forest of tripods and lightstands divided into two groups. The strobes were ganged up to overpower the bright midday sun and it was enough to beat down the daylight enough to get a dramatic mood going.

This really demonstrates the importance of having enough flash power, as a shot like this wouldn’t have been possible with just 2 flashes.  Sure, there’s always FP mode on the speedlights – which is a proprietary Nikon feature that fires the flash in pulsed bursts to be able to sync at higher shutter speeds.  But several things make this option difficult – the main one being that some students weren’t Nikon users and wouldn’t have been able to trigger the feature in iTTL, but also that FP mode is quite wasteful with flash power and would need some pretty long recycle times.  It’s swings and roundabouts, but at the end of the day it comes down to raw power – you either have it or you don’t.

Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong (2)

Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong (1)

Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong (3)


Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong (4)


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