I may have mentioned these before, but I had one of them conk out on me (my fault, I banged it on something) and had to replace it the other day, which put them in mind.
Ritz Camera (which is also Wolf Camera which is also three or four other stores) sells a Quantaray Flash Booster, the MS-1, which is a little battery-powered flash with integral photo slave. Here's a link:
MS-1 Flash Booster
These things are great!
Okay, they're *not* powerful. Not, not, not. I admit that. They make even the cheapest AC slave look like an artificial sun. But they do have some major advantages:
1) They're cheap. $20 a pop. Yes, $20.00. That's it.
2) They're *highly* portable. They're just tiny little rectangular boxes. No wires, no big receivers, nothing. They only weigh a few ounces, even with the batteries in. You can stick one in your pants pocket.
2) They don't cost much.
4) They're very convenient. They have standard flash shoe feet. They will go anywhere a regular flash will. They also come with little stands that allow them to be angled or mounted on a standard tripod screw, and a little strap that lets you attach *that* to anything upright.
5) They're inexpensive.
6) They're highly adaptible. Set it on the floor and it's a bounce shadow-reducer. Combine it with this:
Calumet Swivel Umbrella Adapter
A simple tripod, and a basic umbrella, and you've got a highly portable portrait light. (You could put it in a small softbox, too, and I have.) Stick it behind the model and point it at the wall and it makes a sunburst effect. Have someone hold it in their hand and it can be a highly directional auxillary source. The possibilities are endless.
7) Did I mention that they're cheap?
Now, is this professional equipment? Oh hell no. It runs on AAA batteries. It takes three to five seconds to recharge. And its guide number is like 28. It doesn't even begin to compare to the cheapest "real" monolight like an Alien Bees unit. But *for the money,* you simply cannot beat it. If you're just starting out, you can use them even without a master flash trigger system. I bought some nice stands and umbrellas on closeout, and can use them with these and eventually upgrade to better units. For those of you who want off-camera lighting, but don't have the money for good monolights or strobes, give them a try.