Tag Archives: flash

Light Reading…

light_reading

Three new books worth your attention if you want to bone up on lighting techniques.

Newbies will jump into the wading pool with Digital Photography Lighting for Dummies by Dirk Fletcher (Wiley Publishing). The ubiquitous series established itself with breezy, easy, irreverent guides to computers & software, but is now a virtual industry covering every imaginable subject in flaming full-color. Digital Lighting seems a bit more sophisticated than the early dummies, yet still friendly enough to make a beginner feel at home. And, of course, Rich Tennant’s cartoons are always good for a chuckle. My favorite shows a model lost in a sea of giant studio lights, reflectors and soft boxes, while a photographer orders his assistant to “Get me three tungsten halogen lights and a 5,000K strobe, I’m trying to do something real natural here.”

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Brian McLernon (obviously born to instruct) offers plenty of helpful tips in Lighting Digital Field Guide (Wiley). This is one of those books you’ll stick in your backpack and refer to often. The author doesn’t just touch on the use of speedlights, but inspires the strobist within.

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An indispensable guide to shooting interiors and bringing them to life is  The Essential Guide to: Lighting Interiors: techniques for lighting with small flash by Scott Hargis (PFRE Media). David Hobby gave this eBook a thumbs up on his blog, so I knew I had to check it out. My only disappointment is not being able to hold a physical copy and scribble notes in the margins. (Note to New Riders:  buy the rights and release it in print.) Hargis is not only a master at photographing architecture and interiors but a damn good writer as well.  It’s the best of both worlds. In the wrong hands lighting techniques can be deadly dull. Instead, Hargis makes the technicalities a pleasure to learn.

The book covers the following areas:

  • Fundamentals if Interior Flash Photography
  • What gear to use and why
  • How control window exposure
  • How to setup lighting in all the different types of rooms you’ll encounter: Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Kitchens and large spaces
  • How to deal with reflections and special situations
  • Post processing

At a time when markets for photography are shrinking, there is  plenty of demand for real estate photography. This book teaches you how to show a room in the very best light.

From China With Love

Zoom Street Photo

Today—direct from Shenzhen Guangdong—came the clandestine iShoot Sniper Camera/Flash Wireless Radio Trigger.

Rumor has it the Sniper features a “very low miss rate” and extraordinary reach (500 meters). We shall see. I will be testing it soon on the firing range here at Zoom Street. Until then, I will keep it from falling into the wrong hands, i.e. strobists with itchy trigger fingers.

shoot

Stay tuned and vigilant.

Wiz Was There

outofstock_wiz

If you saw my recent post The Wiz is Here you know I’m testing the new PocketWizard  i-TTL Flash System for Nikon which just hit the street. Not just Zoom Street, either, but worldwide. So popular are these goodies—including the Flex TT5 shown above—that they’re disappearing off the shelves. Hard to believe B&H didn’t order a dozen boatloads.

Since minor bugs were worked out in the system for Canon, you don’t have to wait for all the reviews to come in. Search the web and track these suckers down.

You can also check the PocketWizard Global Dealer Locator.

Last resort: Sherlock Holmes.

The Wiz is Here!!!

Zoom Street Photo

Pardon my exclamation points but like many other Nikon strobists I’ve been waiting a long time for the latest technological wonders from PocketWizard.

Canon shooters got first dibs on the MiniTT1 Transmitter and FlexTT5 Transceiver, while the rest of us had to twiddle our speedlights while the technicians tinkered in the lab. Oh and let’s not forget the new PocketWizard AC3 ZoneController.

These three goodies are rumored to be a game-changer.

Was it worth the wait?

Stay tuned for a forthcoming feature on Zoom Street. Meanwhile, I’ll be working late in the home office…

afton_office

Have a great weekend.

Bee Cool—Comb Your Light

Zoom Street Photo

Oh, Honeycomb, won’t you be my baby
Well, Honeycomb, be my own…

Thanks to Harbor Digital Design I can quickly attach a honeycomb grid to my speedlight, add a gel, and sculpt the light for dramatic effects. Modifiers that attach to the strobe via Velcro and straps are not nearly as fast on the draw as the Quick Spot which slips right over the flash head. Easy on, easy off.

The Quick Spot Combo Pack includes two honeycomb grids—1/8″ and 1/4″ —plus two flash adapters and a colored gel kit.  Nifty-swift I’d say, and I did. I suspect you’ll be hearing a lot of buzz among busy shutterbugs (make that shutterbees) for whom every second counts on location. It’s a no-brainer: keep a pair of these in the pocket of your gear bag and slap ‘em on as needed. Swap them, shoot, and pop ‘em off.

Great for portraits or to creatively frame objects. These honeycomb grids are—you guessed it— sweet!

Click here to order.

Triggers Off to Court

The American manufacturer of the enormously popular PocketWizard wireless flash triggers, LPA Design, has today filed a complaint for patent infringement against Hong Kong-based Phottix Ltd.

Atlas

Among the photo accessories produced by the Chinese company is the Phottix Atlas trigger (shown above)—the alleged culprit. The product is popular in Asia and has recently made inroads in the U.S.

Last June David Hobby wrote the following on his Strobist blog: “With the announcement of the “Atlas,” Hong Kong -based Phottix has just gone from an unremarkable, third-party accessory manufacturer to a company who is raising serious eyebrows.” (Link to the complete text.)

Zoom Street has reviewed several Phottix products favorably, and last year I posted my impressions of their Plato 2.4 GHz Wireless Remote Set

Strangely enough we’ve been unable to get hold of an Atlas for testing since Phottix has been “reevaluating” their review program in the U.S. Could it be the company got wind of the impending case?

No way of knowing, short of internal company documents turning up on WikiLeaks. Meanwhile, Phottix has yet to  respond to the infringement charge on their blog, and it will be interesting to see if they do.

miniTT1

I’m eagerly awaiting the PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 for Nikon that has been long delayed due to extensive testing. (It’s a good sign when a company resists the temptation to rush a product to market before it’s ready. Even when it makes the pros grumpy.)

Meanwhile, I’ll keep you posted on the case.
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UPDATE (1/16):
This from Ron Galbraith Digital Photography Insights:

“We’re not in a position to dissect what this legal action means to the future of the 344MHz Atlas or what the next steps will be for either party. Nor do we know what impact this legal action will have on companies such as Interfit that intend to release the 344MHz Atlas rebadged as the Titan Pro. The only thing we know for sure is the suit applies only to the U.S., not to other likely markets for the 344MHz Phottix Atlas such as Canada and not to countries carrying the 433MHz version already.” More here.

Always use a lens shade…

shootout

Or maybe not.

Go ahead, take it off and experiment with flare. You never know, a test shot might turn out to have some “flare with flair.” 

Hmm, that wasn’t my intention here. I was just testing 4 flashguns in the kitchen. As you can see, the three on the counter all fired, triggered by the camera’s pop-up flash. However, the slave I Nasty-clamped to the shelf didn’t pop. (Ugh, I set the bugger to the wrong channel.) The flare in the window which looks like the sun was produced by the master flash.

By going shade-less with an extremely wide 12mm lens I opened myself up to a world of glare, gotchas, & ghosts. Try it some time.

Usually when a shot has streaks and balloons it deserves to go right to the trash bin, but this dud begged for mercy.

“OK,” I said, “I’ll put you on my blog and hope nobody notices.”

Blinded by the Light

Zoom Street Photo

I’d heard some nice rumors about the LumoPro LP160 Quad Sync Flash, so I figured it was time to see for myself. Off-camera speedlights are the rage today, but unless you’re Joe McNally you probably can’t afford, say, a dozen SB-900s. Yepper, a gaggle of Nikon strobes is a bank-buster for sure.

I’ve  purchased only one SB-900—(it’s the master, I’m the slave)—and use several less powerful flashguns for rim and fill when necessary. But it would sure be nice to add a little oommph to the equation without taking out a loan…

lp160_back

So here’s the LP160 raising it’s hand, shouting ”Me! Me! Me!”

Hmm, looks and feels pretty solid.

What’s the street price?

$159. No joke.

So I figured it couldn’t have much juice, right?

Boy, was I in for a surprise. When I triggered the thing at full power it lit up the living room like I’d switched on a Kleig light.

Zoom Street Photo

Believe it or not, the LP160 matches the power of my SB-900. Keep in mind it’s a manual flash, but you can still use it with TTL by choosing the Si setting where it simply ignores the pre-flash. You just have to set the strobe’s power manually.

In its standard slave mode (S) it’s very sensitive—fires immediately upon sensing another flash. You could it almost call it trigger happy, which is a refreshing change from a flash that suffers from stage-fright. During my initial tests it never missed a cue.

LP160’s power ratio: 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32,  1/64.

Recycle time is 3-4 seconds when using rechargeable NiMH. batteries.

The back panel controls are efficiently designed; on/off and slave selection switches;  separate buttons to control power and  zoom (the motorized zoom head extends from 24mm to 105mm); and last but not least… a reset/test button.

On one side of the LP160  you’ll find both a 3.5mm Miniphone jack socket and a socket for PC Synchro cord.

The flash head of the LP160 has a distinct advantage over my SB-900—I don’t  have to depress a button to swivel it. The head tilts from -7 to 90 degrees; rotates 180 degrees to the right, 150 degrees left; 330-degree total.

And here’s a rarity LumoPro included a ready light on both the front and the back of the LP160—a extremely useful feature when slaving. Of course you can also mount the flash in your camera’s hot shoe. I used it on both a Nikon D300s and D90.

The flash comes with several accessories… a small stand, a snap-on wide-angle diffuser, and a Miniphone to PC Synchro cord. The only thing missing is a padded carry case but—hell—at this price who’s gonna complain?

LumoPro-LP633

Using the optional LumoPro LP633 Umbrella Swivel w/ Flash Shoe Adapter (above) I mounted the LP160 w/umbrella on a light stand and was ready to roll.

Zoom Street Photo

All I needed was a model, so I dragged my son outside for this quick portrait.

photo by Derek Pell

I kept the power at 1/8 so the bounced flash blended nicely with the ambient light.

So as you can see I’m sold on the LP160. And so was everybody over on Zoom Street where it just received this:

Street Smart Editors' Choice Award

Way to go LumoPro!

FourSquare with Three

Zoom Street Photo

Lightware Direct has good timing, not to mention cool lighting accessories. Just in time for 2011 they’ve introduced their FourSquare system for ganging Speedlights. Yup, strobists will be drooling in the Yule, dying to get their hands on this flash blast.

4square_logo

This is just a sneak peek. I only had three small strobes handy—all different manufacturers—but you can attach four to the block (five if you add the accessory Center Mount FSA300). But there’s no law governing how many flashes you choose to mount, two might serve you well.

The heart of the FourSquare Kit 30” is the main mounting block seen above, which is crafted from tough T6061 anodized aluminum. Nice and small, see… and you’re beginning to get the big picture: portability. Big light in a compact kit born for location shoots.

The kit comes with a 30” x 30” soft box for mondo coverage.

Zoom Street Photo

Unfortunately it doesn’t include the essential FourSquare Handle FSH 800 which mounts to the block for hand-holding (or) can be threaded to a tripod.  In the shot above I’ve simply Nasty Clamped it to a stand.

I’ll order a handle (shown below) and then we’ll see if I can get the three slaved Speedlights to fire.

FS_HandleMainSize

Stay tuned to Zoom Street.

Meanwhile, for more info go to www.lightwaredirect.com