Strobe Failure Recovery

Published on July 12, 2017

If your strobe lights do not fire… Here’s how to troubleshoot:

  1.  Make sure your remote radio trigger is operating properly.  Does it need a new battery in the transmitter or receiver?
  2. Will your flash fire when you push the test button? (Red button on back of your strobe) If no, your light probably needs a new bulb or needs to be repaired.
  3. If your slaved light is not firing (Lights that do not have the radio receiver on them), is the slave sensor able to see the flash from the light that has the receiver?  Move your slaved light where it can see the sensor.

So if you still can not get your lights to work, you have a couple of options to still achieve beautifully lit portraits with 2 (or even one light).

NOTE:  The  Paul C. Buff (Alien Bee) Company typically gives great service.  Call them and they will help you trouble shoot your light.  You can ask for a loaner light be shipped to you so you do not have to go without a light while yours is being repaired.  The web address is:

  1.  Go without a fill light.  If you are in a small room, remove the fill light and go with the main and the separation light only. The walls will bounce the main light back on the subject and provide some fill light.
    •  You may also need to move the light further away from the subject and tilt the light towards the subject to create an acceptable lighting pattern on the face.
    • Make sure to take a custom white balance if you change to this configuration (as the light temperature will change and there may be a color cast from the wall color).
  2.  Go without the separation light.
    • If you are in a larger space and need the fill light- simply go without your separation light.
    • This works well if the backdrop is a lighter tone.   Your portraits will not have the nice hair or rim light, but they will still be pleasant and properly exposed.

You will have to make your decision on which light is missed least. If you need to, try both set ups to see which one is your best option.