I’ve never been big on strobist-style gadgets. I’m sure the light that comes out of your salad-bowl beauty dish and SB-24 is fantastic, but why not just purchase the tool for the job and get on with your life. That’s not to say I’m not a fan of fellow Gator David Hobby’s web site. Hobby does a fantastic job of explaining complicated lighting techniques, and he has inspired a huge number of people to take their photography to the next level. But I’ll keep my Profotos, thank you very much.
Recently though, Scott Krebs showed me something he was working on called a Saber Strip. It’s a long black tube that could double as a potato cannon with a small speed light strobe stuck in one end. It looked cool, but the first thing I asked him was if I could shove a Profoto head into it. Unfortunately, the answer was no. I played with the two prototype strips he had and asked to borrow them some time.
Some months later, I began work on a personal project and I was dreaming up a way to light portrait subjects on location in a small outdoor tent. Space was a consideration, and I also wanted a unique look. I remembered talking to Scott about the Saber Strips, so I gave him a call. He agreed to lend me three strips with strobes to experiment with. I shot with them for an afternoon and was sold. They’re so much more than a speed light modifier. I now use them as edge lights, fill lights and even occasionally as mains. They’re light, and you can put them up in a sustained wind with no worry about them falling over. They pack easily, and the tubes are made out of a material that is damn near indestructible.
Did I mention they’re compact and work great in tight situations? A few months ago Time magazine hired me to photograph Youtube sensation Vegan Black Metal Chef for their “culture” section. I packed my truck with all of my Profoto gear and made sure to bring the Saber Strips along to see what I could do with them. I had several ideas involving VBMC posing in his kitchen. Little did I know that his kitchen was the size of a small closet. My assistant set up a small octobox and two medium softboxes with my Profoto heads, and then we proceeded to see if we could shove it all into a 6’ x 6’ kitchen. When we were done, there was nowhere for me to stand and my main light was hovering dangerously close to a hot oven. There just wasn’t enough room. We set up three Saber Sticks with Canon speedlights and moved the Profoto gear out. We were able to boom a Saber Stick over the subject against the ceiling and use two Sabers at 45 degrees of the subject. Everything fit with plenty of room to move, and the light looked fantastic.
Here’s what it looked like
I’ve become a fan of Saber Strips and I now pack them for every shoot. Scott has invested a lot of time and money into making a killer product. If you’re interested please take a look at the Saber Strip website and at $135-a-pop they’re really a bargain for what they can do.