Jim wrote to ask,
“Eric you spoke of small cheap flashes a while ago would you have a model number I could search for. I am looking for something to light behind my subject triggered by an optical trigger.”
While the best solution to light a background is a pair of strobes, you can often get away with a basic flash and trigger to light a small area. Just about any flash will do, although you’ll need to play with the output level and/or distance to the background to get what you need. If you’re close to the background a diffuser might come in handy — you can buy one or make one out of translucent fabric or plastic.
If you’re looking for something cheap I’d try your local photo store and see what they have laying around. You can also talk to anyone who has upgraded to a digital SLR and bought a new flash. If you have to order off the net, check this out. And, as always, leave me a comment and let me know how it goes!