I have been reading David Hobby's great site Strobist.com for quite some time now.  I remember last year how he set up his lights (strobes) to light his living room so where ever he was, he had good light. This year, I figured I was going to try the same thing.  So on Christmas Eve I set up a couple light stands with two of my flashes and began testing.

Olivia was unusually cooperative and sat in one in our funky chair.  While her little sister, Mia, and the dog tried to ignore me while they lounged on the couch watching TV.

Christmas Eve-7708

Christmas Eve-7704

As you can see, they are both lit fairly well.  Nothing amazing, but hey, this is my first try doing this and I am just practicing.

They are probably a little better than my photos from previous years.  IMGP4049

To get this light, I took two of my flashes, (a Pentax 360 and a Nikon SB-25) and put them on stands in opposite corners of our living room.  The stands brought them up to about 7 feet high in our 9 foot room.  The pentax was tucked nicely between the fireplace and our television about a foot from the wall while the nikon was in the opposite corner in front of a small filing cabinet (yes, our living room is my office) about 3 feet from the wall.  Both flashes were pointed into the wall, angled up toward the ceiling.  Here is a very poorly drawn diagram of the setup.  But I think it gets the idea across.

christmas light setup

Just for clarification, it was early and we had the blinds down, so there was no light coming in the windows for most of the photographs.  Later in the day I took more photos, but I don't believe there was any natural light coming in and having a big effect.  I should of added the two lamps to the diagram.  One is between the chair and sofa on a table, the other is a floor lamp almost right below the nikon strobe.

Both flashes were triggered with AlienBees CyberSyncs.  They are what really made all of this possible.  I would not have been able to do this with wires and only the pentax has an optical trigger.

The interesting thing is the Pentax flash is much newer and cost me a lot more money. But the SB-25 is my preferred flash.  I bought the Pentax a number of years ago and it is showing it's age.  Not that I don't take good care of it, but the battery door is sooo cheaply made that it will not stay shut without a bungee cord holding it shut.  And it does not do a very good job, but tape really doesn't work.  However, the Nikon I got off ebay for $20 shipped.  It works great and the only thing wrong was a broken hot shoe mount.  Since I only use it off camera, not a problem.  A couple bucks for a mounting bracket along with gorilla glue and I have a great flash.    But I digress.

So how did the photos turn out?  I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I really like them much better.  I find the images I was able to make this year are much more interesting than in any previous year.  The lighting is much fuller and not the typical flat light one gets from the flash on the camera.  Below are some of my favorites from Christmas, but you can see all the photos in my Christmas 2008 Flickr set.  Compare the photos with just "Christmas-#" in the title to those titled "Christmas Eve-#."  The photos from Christmas Eve were taken at a friend's house with my flash sitting in the hot shoe right on top of my camera.  Let me know what you think in the comments.