Gizmo of the day

The gizmo of the day is this Photoflex bracket:

Photoflex dual flash bracket

Photoflex dual flash bracket

Intended mainly to put two small flashes in a softbox. For which it works well. Adjustable just like it should be.

But I have another use for it.

You see, I am a speedlighter. I use small flashes. And pocketwizards, when I am not using TTL. So I am always looking for ways to mount those flashes and Pocketwizards, and no-one has yet come up with any good ways to do it.

So that’s where this bracket comes in. I use it to put one flash and one Pocketwizard onto a light stand. I mount it on a ball head, which I put on the light stand.

In order to do so, I had to use a metal saw to remove the little tag that sticks out: you can see it on the very top, sticking out next to the screw. I am not sure why they put that there: much better without.

But that done, I now have a bracket that allows me to securely, safely and sturdily mount two flashes, or a flash and a pocketwizard, for use on a light stand.

Michael’s Quick Judgment: recommended, provided you have a saw.

Size matters.

…the size of your umbrella, anyway.

I am using a big Photoflex umbrella today. How big? Here’s how big:

Big Photoflex Umbrella

Big Photoflex Umbrella

This umbrella, which can be used to shoot into, as I am doing here, or to shoot through, is huge. Which makes the light softer.

It is also very reflective, more than most. And that helps: I was able to overpower daylight on an overcast day with the single Bowens 400 Ws light set to 3 (out of 5), somewhat close to the subject. With my regular, smaller and less reflective umbrellas, I would have used a setting of 4 to 5 for that shot.

So, all this amounts to:

  • Softer light (since the source is larger),
  • Greater distance I can bridge,
  • Less spillover behind the umbrella (which in a studio is important)
  • A lot more shots out of my battery pack,
  • Faster recharge time between shots.

Here is that battery pack:

Bowens battery pack

Bowens battery pack

At full power, I get 150 shots out of a small battery (attached at the bottom); at power level 3, it is closer to 300 shots.

So by using a nice umbrella, metering to minus two stops ambient (minus three if metering off the dark garden), then setting the flash to the aperture thus achieved, which was f/5.6), I get this shot:

Nancy, photo by Michael Willems

In the back yard, lit by flash

As you can probably see, I am also using a speedlite on the camera left, to separate the hair from the background and to give some edge lighting interest. That speedlite is fitted with a Honl Photo 1/4″ grid to avoid the lens flare I would otherwise get.

Time for this snap: couple of minutes.

If all that is confusing, as it will be to beginners, then just take one of the flash courses and learn how to do this. It is fun, and well within reach of amateurs – not just for pros!

Michael’s Quick Judgment:

  • Photoflex large reflective umbrella: recommended.
  • Bowens Travelpak power pack: recommended.