Make It Better with Bare Bulb Flash - TDS Photography Podcast

This is The Digital Story Podcast #925, Dec. 12, 2023. Today's theme is "Make It Better with Bare Bulb Flash." I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

Last week I talked about holiday portraits and discussed the importance of good lighting. Many photographers these days opt for existing light snaps. They're fine, most of the time, but what if I told you about a brighter way to create pleasing portraits? I'm going to do exactly that on this week's TDS Photography Podcast. I hope you enjoy the show.

Digital Photography Podcast 925

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Make It Better with Bare Bulb Flash


Some photographers have moved away from flash photography because they don't like the images produced with shoe-mount strobes or those built-in to the camera.

And often for good reason. The light can be over-concentrated on the subject leaving the background murky and off-color. But what if you could use a flash that evenly illuminated the entire scene, including your subject? Wouldn't that be better?

There is such a technique. It's called bare bulb flash. And instead of focusing the light through a rectangular fresnel lens, you use an exposed flash tube that spreads the light everywhere.

These used to be expensive and bulky units. But I've been testing the Godox Lux Senior Retro Camera Flash ($119) that is super compact, easy to use, works on practically any camera, and allows you to use bare bulb flash.

Let me walk you through its features.

  • Buit-In Reflector Is Foldable - Godox designed the Lux Senior with a foldable circular reflector. This is great when you want a more directional light. But you can also fold it out of the way for bare bulb lighting.
  • It's Not TTL, but Auto Works Well - I use the auto mode at f/2.8 ISO 100 with the reflector folded back. You can adjust the scene brightness by changing the ISO or aperture. Once you have it the way you want, Auto mode will take it from there.
  • 7 Manual Output Settings - You can also go completely manual with 7 settings between full power and 1/64th.
  • 2 Optical Modes As Well - Optical Modes that offer S1 and S2 settings. In S1 the flash will fire in response to another manual or TTL flash, while in S2, the Retro Flash will respond similarly, but ignore the initial flash.
  • Rechargable Lithium Battery - No need to worry about carrying batteries. It comes with its own USB-C charging cable that restores the internal battery.

In addition to getting great shots, the retro design is a real conversation starter. And the fact that you can use this flash with any camera you have, provides for lots of creative opportunities.

No, You Don't Need To Buy The New M3 MacBook Pro

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I spent over $4,000 on the new M3 Max MacBook Pro. It's amazing, but after directly comparing it to my M1 MacBook Pro, I've realized it's probably not worth upgrading.

Two years ago, I made a substantial investment, parting with $2,700 for my M1 Pro MacBook Pro. At that time, it was a significant chunk of change for me, but what surprised me most was that it managed to lure me away from my beloved handmade Windows desktop PC. Fast-forward to the present, and I find myself contemplating an upgrade not because my current laptop falls short, but because the M1 Pro has set the bar so high.

Now, with the advent of the M3 Max, the question lingers: is the upgrade worth the exorbitant cost? The M3 Max promises increased speed and efficiency, boasting impressive export times for both video and raw files.

My first test was a simple video export in Premiere. The M3 Max outpaced my M1 Pro, rendering a 9.5-minute video in 4 minutes and 6 seconds compared to the M1 Pro's 6 minutes and 13 seconds.

For my second test, I exported 100 raw files in Lightroom. The M3 Max finished the job in just 47 seconds, and the M1 took 78 seconds.

These gains are impressive, but here's the real question: how often are you actually exporting files? Once or twice a day? How much are you willing to spend to save 5 or 10 minutes? In the grand scheme of things, for the majority of users, the marginal gains in speed may not justify the substantial dent in the wallet. Unless you find yourself in an industry where time is indeed money and rendering projects stretch into the realm of 24-hour marathons, the upgrade may not offer the revolutionary leap you're hoping for.

As a photographer and videographer, my M1 Pro has been the best computer I've ever owned -- so good, in fact, that I really don't need to upgrade it. I imagine the majority of people reading this are in the same situation.

If you can tell that your current computer is struggling to keep up with whatever tasks you throw at it on a daily basis, it's time to upgrade, but if it's already keeping up, it's probably not spending thousands of dollars to save a few extra minutes a few times a week.

The 2024 TDS Photography Workshop Season

Gift Certificates are available for all of our workshops! Just send me an email at, and I'll send you a personalized certificate right away.

You can see all of the workshops and reserve your spot at

I've just announced six new workshops for next year - 3 online, and 3 in-person on location. All events are open for registration right now. Here's what's going on.

Photo Critique and Building Your Portfolio - Online - Feb. 2024

Spring in Sedona, AZ - In-Person - April 2024

Infrared Photography - Online - June 2024

Inkjet Printing for Photographers - Online - August 2024

Durango, CO and Mesa Verde National Park - In-Person - Oct. 2024

Safari West and Wine Country Experience in Sonoma County - In-Person - Nov. 2024

Reserve Your Spot Today

Most of our workshops currently have open seats. But typically that doesn't last for long. So if you want to join us in 2024, and I hope you do, visit the Nimble Photographer Workshops Page and reserve your spot. I hope to work with you in 2024!

DPReview Annual Awards: The best photography gear of 2023

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I cover all the winners in the podcast.

Virtual Camera Club News

The Nimble Photographer Newsletter is now publishing every Thursday. Readers will enjoy a variety of content spanning from short photo essays, to commentary on weekly events, to reviews of the latest and coolest photo gear.

TDS Workshops! - You can sign up for available workshops by visiting The Nimble Photographer. Inner Circle Members receive a 10-percent discount on all events.

Inner Circle Members: A big thanks to those who support our podcast and our efforts! We are having a blast at our new Inner Circle hangout, the private group I've set up at DerrickStoryOnline. We'd love it if you join us. You can become an Inner Circle Member by signing up at our Patreon site. You will automatically be added to the new hangout.

Great Photography Articles on Live View - If you check out our publication and appreciate what you see, be sure to follow us and clap for those authors. You can find us at

If you're interested in writing for Live View, drop me a line at

The New Donation Kit for Carefree Shipping of Found Film Cameras - If you've discovered a film camera that's no longer being used, our new Donation Kit makes it easy to pack and ship. Just visit the Contact Form on, click the box next to Donating a Film Camera, and let me know what you have. In your note, be sure to include your shipping address.

Affiliate Links - The links to some products in this podcast contain an affiliate code that credits The Digital Story for any purchases made from B&H Photo and Amazon via that click-through. Depending on the purchase, we may receive some financial compensation.

Red River Paper - And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

See you next week!

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.