For the making of this kind of wizard, I need another type of wizard.

Namely, Pocketwizards. This is manual flash, fired by Pocketwizard radio triggers. I used a key light (camera left), a fill and rim light (right), a background light (gelled, background left), and a fourth flash, a gelled flash behind the skull. Four flashes, fired by five Pocketwizards.

“I don’t have that kind of money, to buy five radio triggers”, I hear some of you say. “I am going to just use wireless TTL, my camera’s built-in system (Canon e-TTL, Ninon i-TTL/CLS, etc)”.

Let’s have a look. 5 Triggers can cost up to $500. Wireless TTL is included in your Nikon or Canon (or Sony, etc) system, so costs nothing. Easy decision. Of course TTL is cheaper. Right?

All I need for the cheap “TTL solution” is four flashes by Canon or Nikon. Or, if I have a pro camera that does not contain a pop-up flash, five flashes by Canon or Nikon. One needs to be a 580EX/600EX (Canon) or SB800/900/910 (Nikon). Total cost? Between $1500 and $2500. Peanuts.

And for the expensive Pocketwizard solution, I need five expensive triggers; say $500. And then five “any type” flashes: any brand, any type as long as they use a standard hotshoe or an x-type connector, and they can fire manually at a power level of my choosing, and I can disable any auto-switchoff timeout. These flashes can be as little as under $100. And I only need four at most. Say, $400, then. And perhaps cables from Flashzebra dot com, another $100. So the total cost can be as low as $1000.

Wait. The cheap solution is $1500-$2000, and the expensive solution costs $1000? Perhaps things aren’t so simple after all. Just sayin’.

Yes, using radio triggers can be cheaper because you do not need your brand’s TTL flashes. Whatever brand you use, the remote flashes can be new or old and can be made by Canon, Nikon, Vivitar, Olympus, one of the Chinese, Taiwanese, or Korean clone makers: don’t care.  And that can save you a lot of money.


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ISO, continued

Let’s continue with the “High ISO” talk.

First, a photo mad4 with the Canon 7D at 3200 ISO. The 7D is a crop camera which is not very good at higher ISO values. And yet, 3200 ISO looks like this:

Fo comparison, here;s the Canon 1Dx, the top of the line camera, at the same setting of 3200 ISO:

Looks about the same, eh. Now let’s look at a small part of the photo at real pixel size (once you click and view it full size):

And the 1Dx at 3200 ISO:

Look at the meter and see the difference. Considerable.

But let’s look at a photo that is well lit instead of dark. First, using the 7D:

And the 1Dx:

And now the same small real pixel size (again, once you view at full size):

…and on the 1Dx:

As you see, a well lit picture does not show a lot of difference, or at least, not as clearly.

The moral: it’s not that big a deal: you can shoot at high ISO values and if the photo is well lit and you do not “pixel peep”, you’ll be just fine,. More so than you thought, I bet.


How much is too much?

I get asked “you say use higher ISO when bouncing, if the ceiling is high. So what is too high an ISO value”?

There is no answer for that. It depends o you and your camera. My 1Dx is good, and it shows this:

12800 ISO, no noise reduction:

51200 ISO, no noise reduction:

51200 ISO, Lightroom noise reduction:

51200 ISO, Lightroom noise reduction, detail actual size (once you enlarge to real size:

So this shows that with this camera, even at 51,200 ISO, all is well and you can use this for large 13×19″ prints that look great until you are right on top of them. Even then, they look better than my pictures looked in the 1980s.

So… no worries. Be happy. I shoot up to 1600 ISO without even thinking about it. Learn what you will accept from your camera, and then live a happy life unworried by high ISO concerns.


Multiple OCF’s today

OCF = Off-Camera Flash. And OCF is the name of the game. Why? Because off camera flash gives you control over light direction. And you can have fun, like here, in today’s shoot:

(1/125 sec, 200 ISO, f/8)

The yellow flash fires into the camera, This works fine with some lenses, but not with others. If you get a  lot of flare when trying this, try another lens, use the lens hood, and remove any protective lens filters.

This yellow flash and the purple flash are speedlights fitted with Honl photo grids and gels. The main light was a beauty dish on our left; fill light was a softbox on our right, feathered forward. As hair light, a snooted light on our left behind, aimed forward (not visible). So:

The speedlights and one strobe were fired using Pocketwizards; the other two strobes with their light-sensing cells.

The moral: try and have some fun with your speedlights and strobes.


Easy does it

“Convenience” is one of the things that drive me. I want my life to be easy. That is why I use speedlights when I can, for example. So when I shoot, I often use this:

That is an off-camera flash on a light stand with a bracket, a shoot-through (or shoot into) umbrella, and a Flashzebra cable that connects the Pocketwizard to the flash.

Look carefully and you can see all the individual components:

The charm is  that you can leave it all connected so it effectively becomes on integral unit. An easy-to-fold up unit: