Worshipping At Strange Altars - With Stroboframe
I think we can all agree with Ms. Jane - see heading image - at some stage of the day. I favour the mid-morning service, myself.
But on our sales floor we have many altars - some are sent to us by equipment manufacturers with clever television sets attached to the top and captive video programs that show the wonders of whatever is stacked on the racks below. This is a definite advantage for some customers as it provides the visual stimulus to mental activity...and may eventually lead to them purchasing the product. To some extent these are infomercials in as far as they show the cameras in use and in another sense they are suggesting that the prospective purchasers will look like the brave and clever people in the videos. Just like on the shopping channel.
We didn't get quite so slick with the Stroboframe altar...errr..stand. It is just a workaday product with very little glamour and really only serves to make your photography more successful. You are unlikely to attract girls in bikinis or be sitting in the seat of a Porsche sports car while using these frames, though you might well be paid good money for taking pictures of the girl or car with them.
You see, Stroboframe really does one thing, and really does it well - it gets your on-camera flash off-camera and puts it right up above the centerline of your lens regardless of whether your camera is in the landscape or the portrait position. You get consistent shadows on faces and bosoms from the top front position for maximum beauty and minimum fuss. Shadows drop behind heads instead of across the entire group. Red-eye is a thing of the past, even with long lenses focused out into the distance.
Please note the above reference to bosoms. You can light a high neck dress or top from lots of positions and get an acceptable result, but when the model has a rack and it is exposed with a low-cut dress, you have to get the shadow down the cleavage absolutely right. If it is good it is lovely but if it is bad it is the first and only thing that viewers of the image see, and they will complain bitterly about it. Harsh shadows, angularity, hot spots all attract the eye and spoil the effect. Front top lighting with a little diffusion is the general key to success.
Stroboframe make brackets and frames for all sorts of cameras - they were really big in the 2 1/4 square and 6 x 7 days. Even the biggest and toughest of the 6 x 7 cameras could be accommodated and tilted sideways on a frame. You could fasten them to a tripod and then rotate them from vertical to horizontal without losing the central position. There is a wonderful adjustable circular rotation bracket that is available right now for DSLRs that does this even when you've got a battery pack under the camera. I highly recommend it for any studio worker. You can frame a shot then do it in the opposing framing with one flick of the camera.
One final note for Stoboframe. They make a quick-release mounting set that is perfect for most DSLRs. You get a mechanical block that attaches to your tripod head and a thin plate that screws onto the bottom of your camera body - or onto the footplate of a long lens. These then pop together or apart like other quick-release systems, but the real advantage is the fact that the plate IS thin. You can have it on the bottom of any camera or battery grip and still use the grip as per usual. It does not force your hand away from the grip.
Needless to say, I have this system on my Nikon D300 cameras, with grip and without. It is so simple to clip the camera onto either the studio or the field tripod for a quick solid shot - even if the Press-T flash bracket is attached - that I tend to use it a lot more than before. And I tend to have a lot more shots with no camera movement spoiling the image. Also note that in the studio setups that need consecutive shots with not a pixel moved - sometimes 4 of them for one image set - this bracket is tight and steady enough to let it happen, even if I have to refocus the lens manually.
Oh, in case you were wondering why the label links brought you here - we have altars for all these products on the floor. The Bargain Zone is resplendent with two coloured slat walls and some really arcane old lenses. Be sure to drop a coin in the plate when you visit.