Meet Jessica

27 03 2010

She’s an actress who needed character photos for her portfolio.  We shot in Prospect Park for her cowgirl character.  I used my beauty dish, another B800 for rim lighting and portable power for the first time.  I definitely placed the BD way too close and will remember that next time.  Also, we were kicked out by police after only an hour (about 20minutes of that were used for setting up my equipment).  Sorry for the lack of posts here – I will have more photo shoots in the very near future to post up here.


Meet Sabrina

3 02 2010

I processed/reprocessed some photos of Sabrina from December 2009.  Now I have an excuse to write one of these blog posts again 🙂  I used the Photek Softlighter II 60″ umbrella for these pictures.  They were lit up with a Canon 580EX II and a 420EX bungee corded to the umbrella.  In the future I will take pictures of my setup so that it will make sense to non-photogs.

One of the main challenges was the limited space.  The room wasn’t too cramped – the umbrella was just insanely big (for me).  Fortunately, she has modeling experience which helped me out a lot!  She had a ton of poses and it made the shoot run a lot smoother.

On to the pictures…

Yongnuo RF-602

1 02 2010

I just bought three more receivers because they performed so well.  These receivers are much cheaper compared to Pocket Wizards.  The main feature I am missing would be TTL.  TTL is Through-the-Lens flash metering.  Without TTL capability, I can’t utilize High-Speed Sync.  HSS can be very important depending on the situation.  For example, an outdoor sports event on a very sunny day.  The sports photographer may still need fill flash but still needs a fast shutter speed to freeze motion.  HSS would be useful then.  Without HSS, I am limited to 1/200 shutter speed.  One day I will be able to afford Pocket Wizards.

Quick background:

Each receiver has a female hot shoe.  I attach a receiver on each flash that I would like to use off-camera (OCF is off-camera flash).  Attaching the receiver to a flash allows radio frequency communication to a transmitter.  I would then attach a transmitter to the hot shoe of the camera.  When I half-press the shutter on the camera, the transmitter sends a signal that wakes up any flash with a receiver that may have idled to sleep.  A full press of the shutter will trigger the flash to go off.  My camera can sync up to 1/200 shutter speed (SS) without seeing the rear curtain in the image.  If I bump the speed up to 1/250 SS I can see a black horizontal void on the image.  That is the rear curtain unable to keep up with the speed of the shutter.

Without radio frequency communication, there’s IR – infrared.  IR usually operates through line of sight but you can also bounce IR signals off anything.  Infrared signals are usually alright indoors.  There’s plenty of surfaces to bounce signals on – walls, ceilings, furniture, or you can place a notebook to bounce into the flash’s IR sensor (assuming it isn’t blocked…by say, a light modifier).  Usually, light modifiers get in the way because the modifiers are constructed in a way that the flash has to be placed completely inside it.

If not infrared, then what?  Some flash features optical triggering.  It means a flash will trigger when it says another flash is triggered.  This means the flash on optical triggering mode has to be pointed in a way so that it can ‘see’ the other flash firing.  There’s a problem with this though.

Remember TTL?  TTL automatically determines what flash power/zoom settings you need when you half-press the shutter button.  The flash also fires test shots (not the camera).  These test shots look like real flashes and it could trigger other flashes on optical trigger mode.  When you take the picture for the real shot, the flashes on optical trigger mode won’t be able to fire because it did not recycle in time (all of this happens within a second or two).

To be continued..

Lumopro LP120

31 01 2010

I’ve been shopping around for hot shoe flashes for some time. I have three right now – Canon 580EX II, Canon 430EX II and Canon 420EX. Canon flashes are expensive! A Canon 580EX II, for example, costs about $350 used in a photography forum or $445 + tax brand new from B&H.  Thankfully there’s cheaper alternatives out there if you don’t need every single feature offered in the 580EX II.  I didn’t need TTL.  I needed a cheap manual flash that can swivel, rotate, and has the most sync options (right now I only use the hot shoe with my Yongnuo RF-602 triggers).  It’s gotten good reviews and I can’t wait to get these soon!

Another similarly-priced flash I may try in the future is the Vivitar DF 383 Series 1.  I’ll update this post when I test this flash out.

You may ask why I need another flash?  Well, I have two light modifiers right now – a 60inch umbrella and a 28×28 inch soft box.  These light modifiers have a lot of space that the light needs to fill.  Not just fill but try to fill as evenly as possible but that’s another topic that can go on much longer than I’d like for this post.  I could get by with a only one flash and I’d probably use my strongest flash – 580EX II.  It’d probably have to be on full power especially if I am using it on the big 60 inch umbrella.

There are disadvantages of having the power setting at full power.

  1. Slower recycle time: full power demands more battery power which will obviously drain it faster.  As the battery gets weaker, the flash recycles slower (recycle time is the time it takes for the flash to be ready again).
  2. With slower recycle time, you might have missed some great shots.

One solution is to use another flash within the same modifier.  With two flashes, you can dial down the power and not have to be used at full power.  Another solution is to use an external battery pack.  Not all hot shoe flashes have this option, however.  The 580EX II has this option and I haven’t bought the battery pack for it, yet.  There’s a million ways to spend money with any hobby 🙂

This flash can also serve me in other ways (not just as as supporting flash power).  In studios, there are usually the main light, background light, fill light and kicker light.  I was usually missing a flash for one of these things.