February 9, 2013
how to mount multiple flashes / speedlites
Quite often, a single speedlight just isn’t enough. You need more!
You might need a smaller aperture than the single speedlight would provide (even at full power), or you might be battling very bright ambient light. High-Speed Flash Sync doesn’t help you in that case. Then you need to add another speedlight.
The mount / bracket that I settled on is the RPS Light Bar (B&H). It is a bit unwieldy, especially when you have 4 speedlights mounted. But when you need it, you need it. It is this bracket that I use when I’m shooting family groups with speedlights, as described in this article: wedding photography: positioning your flash for the formals.
I’ve used this setup for some of the photography workshops that I’ve presented, where I need to simultaneously have Canon and Nikon speedlights. I have also at times mounted both PocketWizard and RadioPopper triggers. This bracket allows me the flexibility to choose my setup.
Now, the reason why I settled on this device, is that none of the other devices that I’ve seen, have enough space for either the PocketWizard TT5 units, or the Radio Poppers.
- Lastolite TriFlash Shoe Mount Bracket (B&H)
- Lastolite Quad Bracket (B&H)
- Lastolite TriFlash Sync Bracket (B&H)
- Impact FA-300HS Triple-Flash Hot Shoe Adapter Mount (B&H)
- Lastolite TriFlash Bracket by Joe McNally (B&H)
While these are all ingenious solutions to the problem, they just don’t have enough space around for the base of the radio trigger, whether the RadioPopper or PocketWizard. Others that I’ve seen that do allow for this, just don’t seem as sturdily built.
The RPS Light Bar is quite sturdy, as you might see in this detail image of the hot-shoe mount:
August 2, 2011
initial images – Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L fisheye zoom lens (review)
I got my hands on the brand-new Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L fish-eye zoom (B&H) today, and I just had to try it out. And what better place than Times Square in Manhattan. Enough tall buildings and billboards to fill the frame of a lens that gives a 180 degree view! Now, before I continue, I have to admit that even though I have a fish-eye lens in my bag, (the Nikon 16mm f2.8), I only occasionally use it. I feel that a fish-eye lens can be over-used very quickly when it draws too much attention to the distorted view that the lens gives, rather than the photograph’s content. That said, I haven’t had this much fun with a new lens in a long, long time!
[ updated: review of the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L fisheye zoom ]
June 22, 2011
photo session with the Fuji X100 – camera review
First of all, for those who haven’t heard of the Fuji X100 (B&H) yet, it is a beautiful retro-looking rangefinder-mimicking 12 megapixel digital point & shoot camera (with a fixed 35mm equivalent f2.0 lens), that gives remarkable image quality. That about sums it up.
For all those reasons, quite a buzz developed around this camera. Quite unlike anything since … oh, the Leica X1. Or the Olympus Pen EP-2. Or the Sony NEX-5. There was greater excitement building up around the Fuji X100 though than other cameras, specifically for its looks initially. And then when news hit about the incredible image quality, the excitement and interest became more substantial. It’s a hot item right now, and for good reason.
June 20, 2011
The Frio is such an elegantly simple device – ready-made for those times you need to attach a speedlight to a light-stand or umbrella bracket. What makes it so neat is that you don’t have to tighten a twisty knob to attach the flash. And neither do you have to un-tighten that same over-tightened knurly knob when you want to release the speedlight again.
Where the Frio really shines is with the modern speedlights that have a pin & lock system. This make them nearly impossible to seat securely in some coldshoes. With the Frio’s way of clipping the speedlight into position, that’s not a problem any more.
The Frio has a unique way of keeping the speedlight secure – it just slips in, and then the clip at the end holds it in position. To release the speedlight, just push down on the end of the clip, and the speedlight is easily shuffled out. Simplicity itself, with no risk that the speedlight can accidentally wiggle loose over time.
Since the Frio is made of a hard plastic, it can shatter if knocked too hard. I’ve lost one of them that way. But I see this as an advantage in that the Frio gives way; not my speedlight’s hotshoe. I can more easily replace the Frio.
The Frio can take anything that has a male hotshoe connector, such as a microphone or an LED video light. So that gives it a certain flexibility in use, and an easy choice to just have 2 or three in your camera bag anyway. It’ll find a use, somehwere, someday.
June 7, 2011
how to carry your camera over your shoulder
An interesting comment came up in the article on choice of lenses for wedding photography. The observation was that the photographer, Lou, felt like he was the proverbial bull in a china shop when he carried two cameras over his shoulder. With the lenses protruding on either side, it was tough going through doorways without knocking something.
There are numerous camera strap solutions available on the market – rapid straps and holster systems. Most of them work well. I still like the old-fashioned camera strap on the camera. One thing I should mention here is that I really got to like the way the Canon bodies work. Attaching the strap to the bottom of the camera makes absolute sense. Then the camera dangles vertically, and it is easy to swipe the camera to the side under your elbow when it hangs from your shoulder.
I liked this so much that I got the Camadapter place to attach to the bottom of my Nikon bodies. This allows my Nikon cameras also to dangle vertically from my shoulder. Perfect. If I had to choose from scratch again, I’d probably settle for the Kirk plate (B&H). This too has a place for the camera strap to loop around, at the bottom of the camera. Perfect.
Now, it might not be immediately obvious when you pick the camera up and hoist it over your shoulder, but there are two ways to sling the camera …
May 21, 2011
using a macro lens for a photo session of a newborn
I had the pleasure of photographing the newborn baby of Jen and David recently. (David regularly follows the Tangents blog!) Aside from photographing the proud parents with their little one, I also needed to get detail photos of the baby.
With detail images, you see even more clearly just how small this newborn baby is, when you show the scale. A tiny hand clasping a finger. Tiny toes gently flexing against her mother’s hand.
For this, a macro lens is an essential part of my camera bag …
January 30, 2011
review: Custom Brackets Digital Pro-M rotating bracket kit
The makers of the Custom Brackets flash brackets, recently sent me a copy of their latest and best rotating flash bracket, the Pro-M rotating bracket (B&H), for review. They had noticed my page on flash brackets, and even though I don’t much use my flash bracket any more, they still thought I should check their latest model out. Of the various makes of flash brackets I had tried out when I first started doing wedding photography full-time, the Custom Brackets was the one I settled on out of all of them. As far as I was concerned theirs was the flagship of the flash brackets. So I was curious to see what the updated model could offer …
December 20, 2010
comparison between a softbox, a white shoot-through umbrella and a bounce umbrella
I’ve had several requests from readers of the Tangents blog about how the light from a softbox would differ from the light from an umbrella. Spurred on by that, and by my own curiosity, I met up a while ago with my favorite model, Anelisa, specifically to do comparison shots.
And here it is …
December 6, 2010
using multiple speedlights with high-speed flash sync
This photo of Angelique, our model, was taken at 1/8000 @ f2 @ 100 ISO. Yes, an eight-thousand-th of a second. I wanted to use the unique look that an ultra-wide lens gives at wide apertures. (Click on the photo for a larger image). However, the shallow depth-of-field necessitated a very high shutter speed. So we were working in high-speed flash sync (HSS) territory here.
I also wanted to under-expose the city-scape and then use flash to highlight the model against the environment. So the lighting had to enhance the look of the wide-aperture wide-angle lens. The lens was the beautiful Canon 24mm f1.4 II (B&H). The camera that I used is the classic Canon 5D.
With high-speed flash sync, there is a dramatic loss in effective power, as shown in this previous article. To overcome this, you need to work very close to your subject, or gang up a number of speedlights as a group.
My friend Yishai, of HD PhotoVideo, had shown me his permanent set-up which he uses whenever he has the need of high-speed flash. His setup consists of four Canon 580 EX ii speedlights (B&H), held together via a Lightware Foursquare Block. To free himself up from line-of-sight restrictions, and give reliable control of these speedlights, Yishai had connected each speedlight to a RadioPopper PX unit. (They worked with perfect reliability during this shoot.) To have the speedlights recycle fast enough, they are powered by two Quantum 2×2 batteries (B&H). By ganging up four speedlights like this, we can start overcoming the loss of flash power when going into HSS.
To show me how these work on an actual shoot, we arranged to meet up with Angelique (on this icy cold day) on this pier in Brooklyn, for a photo session.
Here is what this set up looks like. …
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November 22, 2010
non-photography goodies in my camera case
Work as a wedding photographer isn’t just about the gear – cameras, lenses and flashguns – and about taking photographs of key moments. Often enough it is up to you as the wedding photographer to help guide the day’s time-line and flow, and also just to help. For me, wedding photography isn’t just a passively observed event where I take photographs in a photo-journalistic or story-telling motif. I’m there to record the day’s events, but also to help, if necessary, making it a spectacular day.
In the photo above, I took over from the maid of honor when her fingers weren’t strong enough for that final button and clasp at the back of the bride’s dress. My fingers were stronger, so I finished the last button. So as a photographer I’m often called on to do more than just take photographs. And in my camera roller case, I keep some extra non-photography related goodies …