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 with Four Accessory Shoes RS-3102 (vendor). 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, and to do multiple setups with different systems.

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.

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 with Four Accessory Shoes RS-3102 (vendor) is quite sturdy, as you might see in this detail image of the hot-shoe mount:

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wedding photography – lighting large groups of people / formal portraits

Relating to the article positioning your flash for the wedding formals, where the family portraits and groups where photographed with a single umbrella and two speedlights, the question then inevitably comes up – what do you do when you need to photograph a large group of people.

The obvious answer is – you need a lot more juice! You either need to add more flashguns, or use a more powerful unit.

As a wedding photographer of Indian weddings, I know that I will be dealing with huge groups of people. And that means a small aperture – and that means a really powerful flash.

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wedding photography: positioning the lighting for the groups & formals

In setting up the lighting for wedding formals in the church, the question often crops up – where do you place the lights. How far from your subjects do you place the lights.

The photograph above shows how and where I place the flash with the umbrella – about 3 pews in, just behind me or to my left (or right). This is approximate though. Two pews in would be fine. Of course, if you’re shooting the wedding formals elsewhere in a different location, just use the same idea.

The closer you bring the light, the more you risk having the light come from too steep an angle, and giving you shadowed eyes.

In positioning my light here, I can be slightly forward of my light – no chance of lens flare - and I have proper perspective for full-length photos. You really do not want to shoot full-length portraits with a wide angle lens. Step back, rather than zoom in!

Placing the light relatively further back like shown here, does bring the light in at a fairly low angle – but it gives open, clean lighting. This is how it looks:

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Las Vegas mini-workshop: on-location flash photography

With WPPI coming up again soon, I’ll be in Las Vegas in March 2013. And like previously, I’ll be having a series of mini-workshops of my own.

There will be 2 such mini-workshops; each 4 hrs long.

  • Sunday, March 10,  1 – 5pm  -  sold out
  • Monday, March 11,  1 – 5pm  -  sold out

The mini-workshops will be limited to only 3 people at a time. Definitely un-crowded! Therefore these mini-workshops will be closer to being individual tutoring sessions.

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video clip: Direction & Quality of Light – your key to better portrait photography

Thank you to everyone that came out to the presentation at B&H’s Event Space. It was jam-packed! That’s always a big compliment. The photo was on B&H’s Instagram feed, and was taken in the minutes before the presentation started. And no, it’s not my doh! facepalm realization that I’ve forgotten something.

The topic of the presentation was – Direction and Quality of Light – and it is based on the material in my new book. I do think this presentation was solid, and going by the stream of questions, very well received.  So thank you for being there and participating.

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news: my own studio space!

January 30, 2013

Finally – my own studio area.

Today has been an exciting day – I signed the lease on a large studio space. I’ve been sharing studio space the last year, but it’s become obvious over time (even before then), that I really, really need my own space.

My own studio, and my own office area away from home. And here it is – the studio as it is now. Two iPhone photos just to show what it is. It is huge, and as you can see, lots of window light. And it’s just 10 minutes’ drive from my home here in New Jersey.

This was in February, and since then the studio has had a transformation. This is how it looks right now: NvN studio

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I met German photographer, Tilo Gockel / fotopraxis, during his visit to New York, where he and I did an individual workshop. Seeing this photo on his blog recently, immediately reminded me of my recent first attempt at playing with colored gels and flash .. except that he did it better!

So I asked Tilo if he’d translate his article for us into English. It’s always good to get another angle on doing something. There are a couple of good tips and ideas in there. Thanks Tilo!

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lighting a boudoir photo session – Carla Starla

We want it to look Fashion-y and Retro. And a little glamorous.” “But I don’t want it to be like a bridal hairdo!” No wonder the hair-dresser was confused by these vague instructions from myself and the model, Carla. The hair-dresser really looked like she was under pressure, wondering if she’d be able to come up with something fabulous enough to be all of that. Fashion-y and Retro and Glamorous.

Carla is a friend (and previous bride), and we’ve been trying to get it together for a photo session for a few years now. But life, work and conflicting schedules kept interfering. But this weekend it all came together – even down to the hair styling which looks fabulous.

The look we wanted with this boudoir photo session, was that the images should have a retro feel to then. With that in mind, we had her hair styled in a complementary way, even if we didn’t have a clear description of that. The post-processing of the photos were also done with that in mind, consistent with the theme.

I’d like to show two of the final images from this photo session, along with the lighting setup.

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bokeh comparison: Sony RX1 vs Nikon 35mmm f/1.4G

Sony has been on fire recently with their new camera releases. The Sony RX100 is arguably the best point&shoot on the market right now. The full-frame Sony A99 DSLR has been getting great reports … and then there is the new Sony RX1 (vendor) - full-frame goodness in a compact camera with a fixed 35mm f/2 lens.

And just in anyone has missed the crucial news – Sony cameras use Zeiss lenses. The word “legendary” is usually automatically associated with the word Zeiss.

A quick summary of what makes the Sony RX1 unique:

The full-frame sensor promises excellent high-ISO noise performance, and the Zeiss optic promises stellar performance from the lens. With that, there’s been a lot of buzz about this camera … and I have one in my hands.

So far, I am hugely impressed with this camera. The build quality is solid. It has a certain heft for such a small camera. The lens is incredibly sharp. (More about that later.) The 1/3rd stop indents on the lens smoothly click into position. This camera just speaks “quality!” Even the lens cap that clips on solidly, is made of metal!

Instead of a breakdown of the specs though, I thought it might be more interesting to look at one specific aspect of this camera & lens – the bokeh of the lens.

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wedding photography: 3 tips to speed up your editing workflow

One of the questions that came up during the Q&A at yesterday’s presentation at B&H, was how long does it take me to edit a wedding. Well, the ideal is that it takes me less than a day. During the peak wedding season around September and October, it is easy to slip behind, but that still remains my goal – to edit a wedding during the week right after the wedding took place.

There are several things motivating this idea:

  • I am more likely to get print orders from the guests at a wedding if the event is still fresh in their memory.
  • In terms of your workflow as a photographer, it is imperative that you don’t fall behind. If you don’t edit a wedding *this* week, then you’re behind because you’re shooting further events.

The best idea then is to edit the wedding in the day or two directly after. Cull, edit, upload, and then you’re done with the immediate workflow. Keep things rolling.

Here are my 3 best tips for a faster workflow. Of course, this doesn’t just relate to weddings, but also to any event where a high volume of images need to be dealt with.

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