Grew up with them. Metz CT 45. Once the gold standard for the pressmen.
Reliable and powerful. Now long forgotten. But since then I can't live without strobes. It's a habit. An addiction. Fortunately, its an addiction that you can switch off at any time.
Back in the days you used flash because you simply needed the light. If you went beyond ISO 400 you went straight to the artistic impression camp, even if you cooked your push developer right. So you usually kept your strobe attached to the camera. Every so often it fired when outside in bright light as well, meant that you learnt to balance ambient and strobe by nothing but mere chance.
Today we are with ISO 6400 and beyond. And people are still complaining that at some astronomic ISO value the file isn’t as good as with ISO 100. If you compare it pixel by pixel *and* in 400%, that is. I am not that much interested in high ISO records*, nor am I good at pixel peeping. Even if the industry does turn next generation cameras into virtual night vision devices, you may still need to light. Means you will need to light with a strobe. Because only a strobe will allow you to easily address the different zones in an image, which you can’t do with ISO nor steady lights nor reflectors (you can with Adobe, painting and masking. But that takes way longer than having it done in 1/250th of a second).
But even if I tend to be somewhat religious on strobes, I am not and by no means a strobe fundamentalist. I switch to ambient to see what I get and I switch back to strobe. Below is a good example, both images were made within the same series, only seconds apart:
First shot. 85mm, relatively close, f3.5 for a shallow depth of field. Background is almost gone. Contrast was slightly reduced by a Lastolite Tri-Grip underneath the model. You'll see the reflector in her eyes.
The second image was taken with the strobe firing and the shutter speed increased to 1/250 sec. Elinchrom Ranger with a Softlite (Beauty Dish) firing on camera axis, pointing downwards hitting both her face and the reflector still in place. Different angle to include more of the environment, i.e. the sea. Both images are just a few clicks and dials separated from each other, both did not need any effort in post processing, but they do look completely different. Means I was back at the bar soon. We only had to collect one of the models that got lost at a petrol-station. Wet. And kind of half dressed. Which is a different story - photo crews are strange people, even without their strobes firing, arent' they.
For my part I like them both, but maybe I do like the ambient shot better. That’s because of impression and angle, but I am equally happy with the strobe shot. Glad to have them both. And that we did find the model before she got lost. I can live without a strobe, but not with loosing models at petrol-stations.
* But I would be *very* impressed if Mr. Nikon-San would come up with a clean ISO 25 at some point in time. And a look that may resemble the Kodachrome 25. That would be something.