Webinar: An Introduction to Using Off-Camera Fill-Flash to Produce Amazing Portraits

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Learning to control an off-camera flash can be intimidating. But have no fear! We’ll show you how easy it is to produce natural-looking results when adding flash to ambient light.

This valuable, professional technique will make you an instant hit with your clients and give you an edge over the competition. And, it will help you to produce beautiful outdoor portraits virtually anytime and anywhere.

Join host Joe Brady as he shows you a step-by-step method to add just the right amount of light to create natural shape and highlights for location portrait photography. A light meter and a pair of PocketWizard radio triggers make it easy. No more pointing the flash up at the clouds, no more blown-out highlights or missing shadow data – just natural, beautiful results.

Equipment List
PocketWizard Plus X and Plus III Radio Triggers
PocketWizard HSFM3 hot shoe sync cables
Sekonic L-478DR Light Meter
Sony a7r with 70-200mm and 24-70mm f4 lenses
Sony HVL-F60M Flash
Canon 580 EX II Flash
Translucent White Reflector
Silver – Silver/Gold reflector

Date: Thursday, October 16th
Time: 1pm EDT
Title: An Introduction to Using Off-Camera Fill-Flash to Produce Amazing Portraits
Host: Joe Brady
Register/attend here

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Upgrading Firmware at the Speed of We-Need-it-Yesterday

New cameras are exciting, especially when they incorporate new technologies that improve camera performance or the user’s creative capabilities. What’s not so exciting is when you take your new camera out on assignment only to find out it won’t perform as accurately and/or consistently as well as your previous camera model. In all likelihood it’s firmware related – causing communication problems between the new camera and your flash triggering system. The language might be the same, but the new dialect causes confusion.

When the PocketWizard product engineers at LPA Design catch wind of new cameras, they prime the coffee machine and, using the earliest available production cameras from Nikon and Canon, begin testing every facet of the camera to determine how well it works or doesn’t work with PocketWizard products before releasing firmware upgrades. During these test trials the engineering team determines what needs to be tweaked or in some cases, completely re-engineered to better ensure PocketWizard triggering devices perform as expected.

A recent case in point is Nikon’s introduction of their newest DSLR, the D810, which replaces Nikon’s popular D800 and D800E. PocketWizard’s engineering team performed exhaustive tests with the new camera to assess and remedy any compatibility issues with the PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 radio transceivers. Considering the complexity of the upgrade process, it’s pretty impressive when you hear LPA’s engineering team was able to hammer out the bugs and release a reliable firmware upgrade in two weeks’ time.

Nikon's new D810 with a fully-compatible PocketWizard FlexTT5

Nikon’s new D810 with a fully-compatible PocketWizard FlexTT5

 

A conversation with Patrick Clow, LPA Design’s Technical Support Manager, explains the complexity and attention to detail that goes into testing compatibility issues between new camera models and PocketWizard radios before releasing firmware upgrades. Between Canon and Nikon, PocketWizard’s engineering team must establish complete compatibility between PocketWizard’s product line and about 60 cameras and 20 flashes. And this figure doesn’t include Sekonic light meters and the various studio flash systems PocketWizard radio triggers are compatible with.

As Patrick describes the process – “There are lots of factors in testing: each shutter speed, every aperture, image stabilization, lens choices, camera battery levels, flash choices, rear curtain sync, MASTER devices and modes, zones, shooting modes, flash durations, and lots more.  When you start to multiply all of the factors together, you quickly get into the millions of possible combinations – you couldn’t test them all in several lifetimes.”

“For the numbers geeks out there, we use a pairwise system to generate grids of test setups. They are still gargantuan, so we edit those grids based on our experience, knowing what changes we made in the firmware, and targeted (towards) the cameras we want to test. In its simplest form, each camera gets a bare minimum of 10 hours of testing assuming nothing pops up.  If it does, we often end up testing it all over again.  The latest firmware had 15 new cameras in it, several requiring multiple rounds of testing as we reverse engineered unique behaviors.  We also re-tested previously compatible cameras to ensure continued stability.  It was a really big project.”

In many ways, firmware upgrades involve thinking the process through backwards. “Our compatibility and features are built entirely on reverse engineering someone else’s totally custom, non-standardized and evolving communication interface and then applying precision timing to that hard-won knowledge. Microseconds matter to us. We do things differently from virtually everyone else in the industry and that’s why we can pull off technologies like HyperSync®, or controlling the power level of studio flashes like the AlienBees with a Nikon or Canon Speedlight.”

New cameras inevitably come with unknowns and according to Patrick, Nikon’s new D810 didn’t disappoint LPA’s Engineering team. “The latest cameras had some interesting things going on under the hood.  TTL for the D810 and D4S, for example, acts differently than previous Nikons at a specific focus distance so we had to figure out how to work through that anomaly.  We did it, and we even modified our own firmware so that if Nikon changes that behavior with a future camera firmware upgrade, or releases another camera with the same behavior, we should still be good to go.” Canon’s newest DSLRs came with their own set of issues.  “Even within the same generation or family of cameras, (Canon cameras) can have strangely different behaviors.  In the past we’ve spent considerable effort figuring out these behaviors and making special cases to manage them.”

“With this last round of firmware we went beyond that – we retooled a major piece of our system to be more flexible.  It should allow us to roll with the punches much more easily and add new cameras to the ControlTL system  more quickly. PocketWizard firmware update version 3.700 for Nikon includes full compatibility with Nikon’s D810 as well as Nikon’s D610, the D4S, Df, D7100, D5300, D5200, and D3300. PocketWizard firmware update version 6.700 for Canon has also been released, bringing full TTL compatibility to Canon’s EOS 70D, 1D X, 6D, T5i/700D, T5/1200D, T4i/650D, and SL1/100D. With these two new releases, all currently manufactured DSLRs from both Nikon and Canon perform with full TTL capability when using the ControlTL feature on PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 Transceivers.

Canon EOS 7D with PocketWizard Flex TT5

Canon EOS 70D with PocketWizard FlexTT5

 

In closing our conversation, Patrick made a point of mentioning his support team at LPA and the time and dedication they pour into their respective responsibilities.  “Thousands of hours, several drums of coffee, and a few dozen buckets of peanut butter pretzels have gone into this milestone.   “I just want to give a shout out to the engineers and testers that made it happen: Tim, Steve, Mark, Gary, Andrea, Ryan, Sarah, Zack, Ian, Heather, and Seth (and Steve, Chris and Ashley).  We have a great support team with Lorei, Heather, Nick, Hannah, Deb, and all the great folk at MAC Group!  Thank you!”

For more information on how to update PocketWizard products via USB connection and to view current release notes for Nikon firmware update version 3.7 and Canon firmware version 6.7 visit: http://www.pocketwizard.com/support/downloads/

The PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 are now fully compatible with the following recently released Canon and Nikon DSLRs:
Canon – EOS 70D, 1D X*, 6D*, T5i / 700D, T4i* / 650D, T5 / 1200D, SL1 / 100D
Nikon – D810, D610, D4S, Df, D7100, D5300, D5200, and D3300
* Now with TTL compatibility.

For a complete compatibility list, please visit:
http://wiki.pocketwizard.com/index.php?title=Canon_Compatibility
http://wiki.pocketwizard.com/index.php?title=Nikon_Compatibility  

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Tandem Lighting Setups Using SpeedCycler On A Recent SI Photo Shoot

Alexis Cuarezma is a portrait photographer with a specialty in photographing sports figures. Considering the fact he’s named after Alexis Arguello, a three-time world champion boxer from his native Nicaragua, and studied art, graphic design, and photography at California State University at East Bay, this shouldn’t be a big surprise.

Barely a decade into his career, Alexis Cuarezma is an alumnus of the Eddie Adams Workshop (Barnstorm XXIV), and counts the LA Times, the NY Times, Sports Illustrated, HBO, Ring Magazine, SEEN, Boxing News, Fighting Fit, and other publications among his current client roster.

Cuarezma has always been fascinated with light, and as a photographer, he aims to control it to the best of his abilities in the studio as well as on location. While he appreciates the qualities of available light, the images Alexis Cuarezma captures for his clients require more than a click of his heels and a Hail Mary shout-out – they have to be lit.

Alexis Cuarezma honed his photographic skills early on by photographing his kid brother and his little league teammates. In short time he began shooting boxers at their respective gyms, which lighting-wise are as dismal as it gets. In Alexis’ case, this was in his favor – he preferred to light the ring his own way.

Cuarezma’s dramatic lighting techniques ultimately came to the attention of Brad Smith, Director of Photography at Sports Illustrated, who he met at the Eddie Adams Workshop. It was through Brad that one of Alexis’s biggest dreams came true – an assignment from Sports Illustrated.

The ‘good news, bad news’ part of the story is that while Smith loved Alexis’s lighting style, the shot he needed of Stanford University’s Shayne Skov (since drafted as a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers!) was going to be silhouetted and had to be shot against a medium-gray background. Brad’s instructions were basically “You’re going to have to get a grey seamless. You know how to light well, keep it simple and have fun.” For Cuarezma the fun part of it would have been to shoot it his own way. And that’s where PocketWizard radio triggers came into play.

Alexis happened to be on the market for new radio transmitters. The ones he had been using were not reliable when he needed them most, and even when they did work, they were limited in what they could do. The features and user reviews of the PocketWizard MultiMAX caught his attention, most notably its SpeedCycler feature.

SpeedCycler makes it possible to shoot studio flash flat-out at up to 10 frames-per-second by syncing with multiple flash units that can be triggered in a rapid, alternating sequence.  This enables him to capture high-power strobe-lit action sequences far faster than he’d be able to shoot with a single light source.

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On the left is the lighting setup I drew out to figure out how many PocketWizard radios I would need and where to place them. On the right is how the drawing looked like in real life

 

But Cuarezma had a different take on the SpeedCycler feature. Rather than using the SpeedCycler feature to trigger identical lighting setups, Cuarezma’s idea was to light and capture the shot according to Smith’s direction – gray background and all, immediately followed by a second exposure that would trigger a second set of lights set up the way he saw the shot in his mind’s eye.

Cuarezma knew his time with Skov would be limited, and if he wanted to please his client – which he did, and please his own creative itch, which he also wanted to do, he would have to go beyond the framework of a conventional portrait shoot.

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Cuarezma’s Canon 1D Mk IV can capture up to 10 frames-per-second, or one exposure every 100 milliseconds. Theoretically, by incorporating a PocketWizard MultiMAX radio trigger and four PocketWizard Plus III’s into the equation, he could capture two separate exposures in 200 milliseconds – one exposure lit as per his instructions against the gray background immediately followed by a second exposure lit in a lighting style Alexis Cuarezma can proudly call his own.

alexis 6

Two of the many ”ping-pong- lighting sequences Alexis Cuarezma shot in two frame-per-second bursts, each triggering it’s own lighting set-up. The bottom left shot is the one that ran across a double-page spread in Sports Illustrated. And yes, it’s not against a plain gray background – it’s the shot Alexis lit his own way.

 

After a series of false starts and a firmware update for his Plus III Transceivers, Alexis was set to go, and the accompanying images say it all.

As for the payoff, Sports IIlustrated was delighted with the results of Cuarezma’s first time out on assignment, and they ultimately ran one of his ‘renegade’ images across two pages. And in this business it really doesn’t get better than that.

Alexis 1

The image as it appeared in Sports Illustrated.

 

See how Alexis Cuarezma lit his Sports Illustrated spread using two entirely different lighting setups and PocketWizard’s SpeedCycler feature here.

To see more of Alexis Cuarezma’s work, check out his website.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Alexis Cuarezma all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.

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Paul Souders + PocketWizard radios + Grizzlies = Awesome

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© Paul Souders

Paul Souders’ grandmother wasn’t a woman of means per se, but she did manage to squirrel away enough scratch every year to fly off to someplace she’d never been before. Watching her slide shows was Paul Souders’ introduction to, and some may say addiction to, travel photography. Fast-forward to ‘adulthood’ and upteen journeys to places previously unknown to him – camera at side – has become Paul’s Souders’ ticket to ride.

A few years back while taking stock of all of the pictures he’d taken on previous journeys, Souders came to realize his awesome 600mm close-ups of bears, lions, and wildebeests were as awesome as everybody else’s awesome 600mm photographs of bears, lions, and wildebeests. Considering how much time, effort, and money (personal money no less!) went into his work, he started reassessing his approach to photography, and how to redefine the word ‘awesome’ on an upcoming trip to Kenya.

His solution was to have his subjects fill the frame, but not from a comfortable distance as previously seen through a lens the size of a baseball bat, but in-your-face-close with a wide-angle lens. But he still had to figure out a way to photograph what he saw in his mind’s eye without getting eaten.

 

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© Paul Souders

His solution was the PocketWizard Plus II Transceivers* he frequently used for triggering remote Speedlites wirelessly when shooting editorial assignments. He knew PocketWizard Plus II Transceivers could also trigger cameras, but seldom took advantage of this function. Visualizing lion cubs or bears sticking their noses inches from the front element of his camera lens while taking semi-playful swipes at it was exactly what he was after. Right then and there he added his PocketWizard Plus II radio triggers, a few small tabletop tripods, and additional sets of lithium-ion AA batteries to his packing list.
(*Note: The PocketWizard Plus II Transceiver has been replaced by the Plus III.)

Paul Souders’ new vision entailed positioning cameras with wide-angle lenses at ground level along watering holes, nesting areas, and feeding grounds. A big believer in keeping things simple, Souders was careful to keep his camera as innocuous looking as a camera with an ultra-wide angle lens and radio transceiver mounted on it can be.

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© Paul Souders

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© Paul Souders

When shooting on the plains, Souders’ typically scouts out promising camera positions, sets up his cameras – each with a PocketWizard Plus II set to its own channel, and retreats to a safe, non-confrontational distance away. Once out of the way, he sets up a second camera with a long telephoto for capturing the action from a more traditional point-of-view.

On a more recent trip to the Canadian Arctic to photograph bears catching salmon making their way upstream to spawn, Souders’ sealed his camera and lens into a waterproof housing mounted on a heavy-duty studio tripod submerged just below the waterline in order to capture the grace of these great beasts as they dive after schools of fish below the surface of the water.

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© Paul Souders

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© Paul Souders

The type of photography Paul Souders’ specializes in requires patience, perseverance, and the ability to endure punishing environments, not to mention the realities of being a potential snack for a host of predators.

Another reality is the toll these projects take on his cameras, which are often poked, pawed, mauled, sometimes trampled, and inevitably smattered with mud and/or dirt. On a recent trip to Alaska “one and a half out of seven cameras’ were functioning by the time he came home. And don’t ask him how many cameras and lenses met their demise after being crushed, chewed to bits, or knocked overboard. (Trust me… the numbers are painful – SR).

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© Paul Souders

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© Paul Souders

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© Paul Souders

 

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© Paul Souders

© Paul Souders

© Paul Souders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The payoff for his efforts are pictures he never would have dreamed possible before he incorporated PocketWizard radio triggers into his workflow. Thanks to his PocketWizard triggering system, he now has the ability to capture penguins leapfrogging over his camera with inches to spare as they rocket out of the water onto land, or to see exactly how long and sharp a bear’s claws could be from uncomfortably-close distances and perspectives.

When Paul Souders originally purchased his first PocketWizard transceivers, they were merely a means of moving his Speedlites off his camera and out of the way. Little did he know they would some day radically change the way he views the world and photographs it.

To see more of Paul Souders’ work, check out his website.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Paul Souders all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.

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The New Technology Alliance between Bowens, PocketWizard, and Sekonic

It’s a beautiful thing when children play together nicely in the playground. Same can be said for photographic gear manufactured by different companies that are ‘guaranteed’ to work flawlessly together when you’re out on assignment. If you shoot for a living you’re well aware how persnickety mixed dancing between photo gear of mixed lineage can be, even when the company’s website and sales rep says otherwise.

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The Technology Alliance, a photo industry consortium consisting of Bowens, PocketWizard, and Sekonic, is out to put an end to all this nonsense. In it’s first official act it has announced that as of May 2014, select Bowens monolights, Sekonic flash meters, and PocketWizard remote triggering devices will, moving forth, speak the same language and perform as advertised on the job. They will play together nicely in the playground too. This launch is focused on the USA and applies to radio units and modules that are FCC-licensed in the USA.

By incorporating PocketWizard Bowens GEM Receiver modules which insert into Bowen’s Gemini-series 500R, 500Pro, 750Pro, 1000Pro and 1500Pro-series of monolights (As of May 2014), Bowens has joined the ranks of other lighting manufacturers (Profoto, Dynalite, Photogenic, & Norman) who have also chosen PocketWizard as their wireless triggering system of choice.801-131_Front_34

The PocketWizard Bowens GEM Receiver modules used in Bowens Gemini monolights is thoroughly compatible with all existing PocketWizard transmitters. When used with a PocketWizard Plus III or MultiMAX all 32 channels and QuadZones can be accessed. When using PocketWizard PlusX, remote triggering is limited to channels 1 through 10. PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 units can also trigger and select zones when used with Bowens new PocketWizard-equipped Gemini monolights.

In addition to the latest versions of Bowens 500R, 500Pro, 750Pro, 1000Pro, and 1500Pro monolights, all existing PocketWizard remote triggering devices will work fluently within the system as will Sekonic’s L-478DR and L-758DR flash meters. Earlier Sekonic meters can also be used by syncing to any PocketWizard transmitter or transceiver, which are available separately.

To mark the occasion and lend a smatter of branding into the mix, a special edition PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver in “Bowens’ accent yellow” is now available, and they are the same price as the existing black Plus III Transceivers.

To celebrate the “technology Alliance”, Bowens has launched a promotion where purchasers of Bowens Gemini R or Pro monilights or kits can get one free BowensGEM Module per monolight until June 30, 2014. Details here. PocketWizard-manufactured BowensGEM Radio Modules will be available in the USA at authorized dealers starting on or around May 21, 2014.

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PocketWizard Online Rebate (US Only) May – June

Get your favorite radio triggers for less with PocketWizard’s new Online Rebate Program. Between May 1, 2014 and June 30, 2014, purchase one or more NEW PocketWizard wireless flash and camera triggers and receive money back.


Get $10 Off your purchase of PlusX

Get $15 off your purchase of Plus III
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PWIII

Get $25 Off your Purchase of MiniTT1 or FlexTT5
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How it Works Purchase one or more of the items above from your local PocketWizard dealer in the United States. Receive your online rebate by visiting www.rapid-rebates.com/macgroup. Fill in your required information along with a picture or scan of your bill of sale dated within the range of this rebate, effective from May 1 to June 30. You will receive a pre-paid VISA card in the amount of the offered rebate.

All rebates must be entered by July 15, 2014.

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Cheng Han Pursues His Inner Captain Nemo

Cheng Han is the type of person who once he gets something into his head, he won’t let it go until it becomes real, at least when it comes to photography. And the funny thing is, up until not that long ago, photography for Cheng Han was merely a function of recording domestic life.

A visit to his website reveals an artist who is serious about the visual quality of his end products. His environmental studio and location portraits simply cannot be glossed over – each of his multifaceted images requires a careful once over… maybe two.

"Together"

“Together” © Cheng Han

Putting the geek and emotional sides together is the gist of Cheng Han’s photographic personality. “I’m basically a geek and the geek side of me likes puzzles. The creative side of me really enjoys producing surreal images that generate emotional responses… at least on my part, and I hope on the part of others who look at my pictures.”

Cheng is fascinated in creating technically challenging photographs, but when he decided to take his photographic odyssey underwater, he had no idea what he was getting into. (According to Cheng, his notebook contains over 200 production notes.)

At Peace

“At Peace” © Cheng Han

Right off he knew he wanted to include swaths of fabrics entwined around and/or about his models. eBay turned into a good source of fabric samples, not to mention lighting manufacturers he called on to see how their diffusion materials and backdrops would hold up underwater. He then had to see which of these fabrics were color-fast because the last thing he wanted was to tie-dye somebody’s swimming pool. (His first attempt with a red surplus parachute almost resulted in a nasty red stain along the lining of the pool ,which fortunately dissipated before Cheng had to drain clean, and refill the pool.)

Cheng Han’s goal was to create environmental portraits complete with models, make-up, costumes, backgrounds, and lights just as he would in a studio… but all partially or entirely underwater, utilizing the unique ethereal effect of weightlessness underwater in ways that cannot be replicated on land.

Cheng readily acknowledges outside influences. ‘Together’, an image of a woman wrapped in swirling silky material while floating embryo-like in a blue void of fabric and water was inspired by a scene in the movie ‘Gravity’, when Sandra Bullock enters an abandoned spacecraft and momentarily floats curled up as if she was in the womb.

To Be No More

“To Be No More” © Cheng Han

 

In a bid for camaraderie, Cheng goes below the surface with the models in all of the underwater pictures. “It wasn’t easy for anyone – take a breath, go underwater, get into position, avoid hitting the lights, pose, open eyes, focus, shoot, and resurface – all while not breathing.”

The camera and lighting part of the equation is equally challenging, the biggest problem being wireless communication between electronic flash systems positioned both below and above the waterline.

“There’s a lot of information available about underwater flash for photographing sea life and wireless flash on land, but there’s not much information about syncing studio flash above water with underwater flash simultaneously.  And then one day Jean Bruneau, the tech advisor for Aquatica, suggested I look into PocketWizards”.

In conventional underwater photography, the Ikelite underwater flash units would be hardwired to his camera’s Ikelite underwater camera housing and mounted in a series of cumbersome & heavy arms. The challenge was triggering the Elinchrom Quadra flash units that were poised above water along the flanks of the pool. Standard optical and radio remote procedures proved erratic if they worked at all.

Inversion (1)

“Inversion” © Cheng Han

Cheng’s solution was to run a hard-wired sync cord from his camera’s Ikolite flash housing up above the waterline where it was coupled to a PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver. Each Ikelite underwater flash and one of the Quadras were also individually connected to PocketWizard tranceivers via sync cords also above the waterline. The signal from the camera’s transceiver could then trigger all the lighting simultaneously. Any additional Quadras were triggered optically.

Cheng Han - Purgatory

“Purgatory” © Cheng Han

In most of the images the Elinchroms are the main lights and the underwater Ikolite flash units, which are often gelled for atmospheric effects, are for fill. In other cases, the Ikolites are the main light source and the Elinchroms are used for fill. The setup Cheng used allowed total freedom to position lighting with the same freedom you would have in a conventional studio.

Cheng Han - Carmen 01

“Carmen” © Cheng Han

Currently Cheng is trying to further push his boundaries by attempting to construct even more complex sets for use underwater with the goal of making the underwater aspect of the photographs secondary to the look and flavor of his photographs.

And a box of donuts says PocketWizard Plus III Transceivers will be an integral part of his lighting system.

To learn more about Cheng Han’s work, visit his website.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Cheng Han, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.

 

 

 

 

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Making Smaller Voices Heard in an Ever Noisier World

There comes a time when we read or see something that makes us want to quit our day job, pack our bags, and go do something that actually makes a difference in this world. Few get past their morning coffee before they’re once again off to the office, dreams put on hold. And then there are those who, damn the naysayers and snickers, actually follow through and make the world, in some small measure, a better place to live in. Mark van Luyk, a Creative Director by trade, and his wife, Judith Madigan, an optometrist by trade, did just that. And they’ve succeeded.

BrandOutLoud-5

Judith and Mark stepped out of the corporate world in 2006 and after a year of travel and soul searching, established ‘BrandOutLoud’, which in Judith’s words ” specializes in tailor-made branding and communications for non-profits worldwide.” If you’ve ever browsed through brochures and websites designed and illustrated by and for non-governmental and other non-profit organizations, you know the design and graphics can often be sophomoric, and at times depressing to look at. Mark and Judith were determined to change all of that.

© Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

As a Creative Director, Mark understands the importance of branding – “It’s all about knowing who you are and what you stand for”. He’s also quite aware of the role of powerful imagery when it comes to successful communication. “Showing stereotype (aid) images of tragedy, warfare, or disease evokes helping from the point of view of pity. Besides, the world has seen enough of the sad looking malnourished African child with the flies in the eyes” Mark adds.

© Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

Mark’s approach is to present local aid organizations from remote locations around the world as real people, with dreams of their own being turned into realities. And no matter how humble or simple the endeavor may be, there is a strong sense of pride and dignity in the faces of the people he has photographed along the way.

 

As a result of Mark and Judith’s efforts, small local aid organizations now have the ability to sustain themselves by attracting new supporters and expanding their network of partners, becoming more and more independent. They are able to show their story and get their message across using the newly well-designed communication tools.

So far Mark and Judith have met with much success. Rather than chasing leads, organizations are now seeking them out for their expertise in not only ‘branding’ aid organizations, but for their unique ability to design and supply the elements of entire campaigns, and they do it quite well.

© Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

Due to the remoteness of many of the locations the van Luyks travel to, they must travel light. For this reason Mark narrowed his choices of gear down to his Canon cameras (EOS 5D Mark II and Mark III), a set of fast prime lenses, and four Canon 580EX II Speedlites which he uses grouped together or individually depending on the circumstances – with or without a softbox or umbrella (In addition to stills, Mark also shoots HDSLR video for client and promotional needs). To synchronize his cameras and lights, Mark relies on PocketWizard MiniTT1 Transmitters, PocketWizard FlexTT5 Transceivers, and PocketWizard AC3 ZoneControllers, which he cannot praise enough.

© Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

“I work in the field and I have to think about everything going on around me, and we often have to set up and work quickly.  My PocketWizard system allows me to set my lights the way I want them knowing the images will come out dead-on. “I’d rather get it right when I press the shutter release. Sitting at a computer doing Photoshop is not my idea of a fun time.”

 

Mark relishes the fact he can control the entire creative process from soup to nuts. “Knowing upfront how the image will appear at the end makes it easy for me to capture and compose all of the elements together. I can pre-visualize the picture and how it will appear in print or the web before I fire the shutter. That’s a huge advantage.”

 

The resulting images are strikingly simple, and though ‘advertorial’ in style, don’t come off too slick or condescending to either the subject(s) or viewer(s). Mark van Luyk and Judith Madigan are quite clear on the fact their subjects are real people, with real hopes, dreams, and realities, and they deserve the same level of dignity an respect as the more privileged amongst us.

 © Mark van Luyk - BrandOutLoud

To learn more about BrandOutLoud visit http://www.brandoutloud.org/videos/1/

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Mark van Luyk / BrandOutLoud, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.

 

 

 

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Breaking the ‘First Three Song’ Rule with Erik Voake

In time, most photographers turn to video as the next logical step in their careers. Not so with Los Angeles-based Erik Voake. In fact, he did the opposite. At 19 he was already directing and producing indie films and videos about off-road racing, skiing, freestyle motocross, snowmobiling, snowboarding, and other action sports.

Other professional accomplishments he’s amassed include being a co-Producer and Director of Photography on the Lionsgate film “A Day in the Life”, a film dubbed a “hip hopera” staring Mekhi Phifer, Omar Epps, Michael Rapaport, and directed by Sticky Fingaz from ONYX. He was also DP on Larry Clark’s ‘Impaled’, a documentary about the effects of pornography on youths’ sex lives, and he recently produced and filmed a documentary titled “Jonathon” that was screened at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.

Mac Demarco - Performance

‘Mac Demarco’ – Copyright Erik Voake / Red Bull Content Pool

 

On TV, Voake created the cable reality series “Crusty’s Dirt Demons” a show about the exploits of motocross riders that aired for two seasons on FUSE Networks. But despite his success in the motion picture and TV universe, something was amiss.

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‘Flume’  - Copyright Erik Voake / Red Bull Content Pool

 

In 2006, not long after seeing the James Nachtwey film documentary – ‘War Photographer’, Voake was offered the opportunity to travel to Bagdad and shoot a documentary on the first deployment of the ‘Band of Brothers’ since World War II (a.k.a. the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, US Army). Sponsored by Sony, it also gave Erik an opportunity to follow the advice of his friend and mentor, photographer Larry Clark, who was urging him to always carry a camera with him because of all of the places he travels and the people he meets. According to Erik, Clark’s advice changed his life.

The still images he captured in Iraq resulted in his first gallery show, which he scrambled to assemble after selling the gallery owner on the idea of a show about the fabled Roxy Theatre. (The gallery owner loved the pictures from Iraq but doubted they were the kinds of images his clientele would want to hang on their walls.)

Smashing Pumpkins - Performance

‘Smashing Pumpkins’ – Copyright Erik Voake / Red Bull Content Pool

 

It was during this time Voake began appreciating the value of traveling light and nimble. Backstage venues are dark, which means you need light, but too much light can be intimidating when you’re trying to gain the trust and confidence of musicians and the lot.

About a week after posting a picture he shot of a band named ‘Chelsea Girl’ on Flickr, Erik got a call from Spin Magazine. They wanted to buy the picture. One thing led to another and before he knew it, Voake had talked them into an assignment photographing a music festival in nearby Michigan, which in turn led to a gig shooting Lollapalooza and the South-by-Southwest music festival. That was in 2009 and Erik Voake has been a music shooter ever since.

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Copyright Erik Voake / Red Bull Content Pool

 

“I’m a photographer – not a director, not a producer, I’m a photographer – I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. My mom was an art teacher, and she told me when I started taking pictures, I finally came into my own. When I picked up a camera… I became Erik Voake.”

Voake began shooting portraits of many of the performers he met along the way. His lighting style is of the ‘less is more’ school and he tends to minimize his lights to a ring light or for larger, softer swaths of light, a beauty dish (“Nothing beats a beauty dish”).

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Copyright Erik Voake / Red Bull Content Pool

 

For backstage shooting he relies on Canon Speedlites. And for syncing his cameras and lights, Erik Voake relies on his PocketWizard Plus II radio triggers. “PocketWizards radio triggers are all I use and all I need. They work every time. Period.” (Note: The Plus II has been replaced by the Plus III Transceiver)

One of Voakes niftier gigs these days is being an official photographer for all of the Red Bull Music Concerts, which feature some of the biggest bands around. A particularly cool thing about working directly for Red Bull is that he has the run of the arena, and in particular, a green light to set up lights around the stage pre-show rather than have to deal with on-camera flash, or more troubling stage lighting, which can change quickly, wildly, and flippantly.

By rigging the stage and syncing through his PocketWizard radio triggers, Erik is able to guarantee his results. And that’s not easy to do on the concert circuit.

'Tapioca and the Flea'

‘Tapioca and the Flea’ – Copyright Erik Voake / Red Bull Content Pool

 

Another noteworthy detail about shooting the Red Bull Concerts, is that since Red Bull was a private sponsor and was paying the bills, Voake was able to break the number one rule of concert photography, specifically -  ‘No flash for the first three songs!’

As Erik Voake summed it up, “We made music history. We were able to break the ‘first three song rule’, and we got some amazing pictures along the way. At first everybody was ‘Hey, what’s up?’, but it all settled rather quickly and everyone including the musicians notice the difference in lighting quality. And he gives much credit to his PocketWizard wireless triggers for pulling it all off.”

To see more of Erik Voake’s photographic work visit his website.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Erik Voake, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.

 

 

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Moshe Zusman’s ‘Perfect Venue Lighting’ Now Available on DVD

They say to err is human, but when it comes to wedding photography and similar one-time-only events, to err can be costly, not to mention painful to explain to your client. Moshe Zusman is a Washington DC-based photographer with a specialty in photographing weddings and special events.

He’s also a repeat winner of the WeddingWire Brides Choice Award, and his work has appeared in numerous publications including People Magazine and Rangefinder Magazine, as well as on Fox5’s morning TV show. Moshe is also an instructor at Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts and he runs an annual Master Class Workshop at WPPI.

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As a photographer, Moshe knows his stuff, and he’s also made his share of mistakes (as have the rest of us), but he’s also learned from his misses and near misses and has channeled these lessons into a thoughtfully informative DVD titled ‘Perfect Venue Lighting’.  (Scroll down to see Trailer.)

Wedding Photography Washington DC MD VA Fashion Fusion Edgy Styl

Extremely personal in real life as well as on screen, Zusman begins the presentation by showing viewers shortcomings of his earlier work, mostly having to do with mixed light sources, dark backgrounds, uneven exposures and flash fall-off, and other issues we’ve all experienced in one form or another.

Wedding Photography Washington DC MD VA Fashion Fusion Edgy Styl

The bottom line for Zusman’s philosophy is that “lighting is everything”, and the first thing he does at an event is assess the majority light sources and balances his lights accordingly. Are there large windows? A skylight? A large source of tungsten light, or even fluorescents? How high are the ceilings? Is there a balcony where we can place lights and PocketWizard radios?

He then goes on to explain each of these issues in terms of why they happen and how to correct the problem using simple, easy-to-manage lighting accessories, including the heart of his camera and lighting system, his PocketWizard Plus III radio triggers (he swears by them!).

Zusman prefers PocketWizard wireless triggers over Canon’s wireless triggering system because PocketWizard triggers are universal – they can be used with flashes from all manufacturers. If need be, he can even use flashes from several manufacturers in the same set-up with zero compatibility issues.

As for lighting, Zusman shows how you can light a large venue using a battery of compact Speedlites synced to PocketWizard Plus III radios and mounted onto 12’ cushioned light stands using Speedlite clamps. (He even demonstrates why you don’t want to have your gear mounted on non-cushioned stands.)

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Moshe goes on to explain how you can get a large swath of even, relatively shadowless light over a wide area by placing the lights far from the action and at a higher angle rather than up close to the action.

Equally valuable is how he explains and demonstrates the easiest way to correct for mixed lighting scenarios without having to gel a thousand chandeliers. (Spoiler alert – You gel the Speedlites with a color correction filter that will change the flash’s 5500°K Daylight white balance to whatever the white balance is of the room’s dominant light source.)

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Moshe Zusman’s easy-to-understand and execute shooting tips, which can be readily applied at conventions, parties, and other events, large or small, teach you how to bring studio lighting concept into large public venues and do it right.

“The beauty of this setup is its simplicity – I can fit all the gear I use inside a small carry-on size Pelican case and take it anywhere I need to photograph an event. The setup is simple – with tall light stands, any speedlite of your choice and a PocketWizard  triggering system – you’re all set!

 

Perfect Venue Lighting – Moshe Zusman Photography Workshops – Trailer from Moshe Zusman on Vimeo.

To learn more about or purchase a copy of Moshe Zusman’s ‘Perfect Venue Lighting’ DVD visit Moshe’s website.

Note – Moshe Zusman’s ‘Perfect Venue Lighting’ DVD is also available through B&H Photo.

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