Noelle in the Swamp

September 22nd, 2009

D20 4977 Noelle in the SwampOne more of Noelle Elise before I get on to other things. This one comes the closest I’ve gotten so far in my efforts to capture the feel of Florida in my work. I think there is something more to be done here…probably something involving getting the model all wet and covered with slime. And/or maybe wresting a ‘gator. Any volunteers?

I’m getting ready for the Dirty Show coming up this weekend. I’ll be there with some friends on Saturday night. Track us down and say hi if you are there too.

I’ve updated the calendar link over there on the top right. I’m working on 2010 calendars. I have updated last year’s calendars featuring Brooke Lynne with 2010 dates. After the Dirty Show one of my priorities will be to create a new calendar with all new photos. This past year has been a good one for my work, so the new calendar should have lots of good new stuff in it. But the photos Brooke and I did on our trip out west are still highlights of my work and always will be.

Now, I’ll issue a photo geek warning. I’m going to write a bit about studio equipment. So you can stop reading if that stuff doesn’t interest you.

I’ve been reworking my studio strobe setup. Not really by choice. I’ve used Novatron powerpack strobes for more than 30 years. The reason is simply that 30 years ago someone was selling a Novatron kit for cheap and I bought it. I don’t really care about fancy features on a strobe system. I just want it to make a bright flash when I push the shutter button. So Novatrons worked just fine for me for all those years.

Over the years I’ve added a bunch of heads and more power packs until I had a pretty comprehensive system that could do pretty much anything I wanted it to do. At least for the kind of work I do. When I did some product work for a customer years ago I had to borrow a lot more power from a good friend, but I don’t do that kind of work very often…never if I can help it.

Over the years a power pack would occasionally fail. Sometimes that could be pretty dramatic, filling the studio (and in one recent case, a model’s home) with acrid brown smoke. When that would happen I’d unplug everything, let the pack cool down (outside) and then take it to my local photo store where they would ship it off to a repairman. In a couple weeks it would be back good as new for something like $100-150.

Well, last fall that failure in a model’s home happened. I sent the pack off…a 500ws unit. But this time it came back “unrepairable – no parts available.” Some checking revealed that the owner of Novatron had died and the company had been sold. The new company decided not to support the old units.

Another pack failed shortly after that. It also came back unrepairable. So my 400ws unit was gone too. That left me with just a 240ws unit that could only power 3 heads. Not enough power to do what I need.

I hunted around and found a good deal on an old Novatron 800ws unit. But it only works on half and quarter power. That means it will fail completely someday…no telling when.

The old Novatron factory workers (abandoned by the new owners) have established a repair business. In fact, they are handling warranty repairs for the new owners of Novatron. I called them and the gentleman I spoke to said, “I built them, I can fix them.”

I seriously considered sending my broken units off to them to be repaired. But I’m pretty upset about the company abandoning all us Novatron users who have used their strobes for all these years. And I worried how much repairs would end up costing and how long they would continue to be available.

But I knew something that doesn’t seem to be common knowlege, or at least has come as a surprise to many people I’ve talked with who are well versed in studio strobes. Novatron packs and heads are interchangeable with Speedotron Brown Line packs and heads. The plugs are essentially the same. You can plug a Brown Line head into a Novatron pack and a Novatron head into a Brown Line pack and everything will work just fine. And Speedotron has been around even longer than Novatron, is still a going concern and still provides support for their old strobes.

So, I started shopping. I had good luck on ebay. Got a Speedotron 400ws pack for $80…much less than I would have expected to pay for repairs on one of my Novatron packs. Then I found a 1600ws pack for only $250. That’s a lot more power than I’ve ever had available. All my heads are only rated for 400ws, but I can use that 1600ws pack on quarter power or use it on full power with four heads plugged in…or other in-between combinations. But, to allow me to take advantage of that power I made a trip to “The Camera Church” aka Columbus Camera Group and picked up a couple Speedotron heads that are rated for 1600ws (couldn’t find any at good prices on ebay). Also got a couple reflectors of different sizes. I think I’m going to spring for a new beauty dish to use with one of those heads. At that point my transition will be complete.

Oh, and there’s another reason that I wanted the 1600ws unit, besides the very good price. I shoot dance photos in the studio. One thing I learned when I studied with Lois Greenfield in NYC is that she uses her strobe system at a low power setting to get short flash durations to freeze the dance movement better. I’ll be able to do that with the 1600ws unit, putting it on quarter power, getting a very short flash duration, and still having plenty of light output.

So, that’s enough photo geek stuff for today. I’m also playing around with some other new gear I found on ebay (it’s a dangerous place for your wallet). I’ll write some more geek stuff about that in the near future.

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About this Blog

Photos and comments by Dave Levingston. This is the place to see my most recent work which may include nudes, dance, landscape, nature and whatever other kinds of photos I feel like taking.

Since it does contain nude photos, this blog is not intended for viewing by anyone under the age of 18.

All photographs and written comments on this blog are protected by the copyright laws of the United States.

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