Brett Harkness Driving Miss Daisy at Night


Photographer Brett Harkness recently shared with us images and diagrams from the book Light & Shoot / 50 Fashion Photos by Chris Gatcum. Here are his thoughts and details behind putting together the images from this shoot.

This image was shot for a clothing company called Love Miss Daisy, which focuses on 1950’s vintage clothing. Taken in the U.K. in July, I decided to end the day long shoot with something a little different. It was around 9pm, the light was fading fast and we were about to wrap up, but I wanted to finish with a bang! I had some smoke bombs with me I’d been looking to use for awhile, so I thought this was the time to give them a go!

Wrapping the model in vintage petticoats I set up the main strobe, an Elinchrom A head with Ranger RX Speed AS pack with a 135cm Octabox. I added a second strobe behind the model to light the fallen tree to the left of the frame and create a rim-lighting effect as it passed through the smoke and across the subject. This head was “naked” to get the most spread from the bulb and had it’s own Ranger pack, both heads on the A channel. It was starting to get dark, but to add further drama I decided to underexpose the scene to give full effect of the strobes.


Diagrams taken from “Light & Shoot / 50 Fashion Photos” book by Chris Gatcum, Published by ILEX

The ambient light had little effect on the scene allowing the strobes to create a high contrast look that I was after. Using PocketWizard Plus® II radios meant we had the reliability with our triggers to make sure we got the shot. We gave a fallen branch to the model to give more drama to her pose, the mystical scene was set!


We use lighting in a lot of what we do here at BHP studios. It has become a huge part of my style over the years, and will continue to develop as we do as a business. In my eyes this is just the beginning. We use PocketWizard Plus II’s, Plus® III units, FlexTT5, and MiniTT1‘s pretty much every day of our lives! We have always used them and always will. I say if it ain’t broken then don’t try to fix it!

My name is everything and our brand is very strong. The reliability of this brand is only there because of the consistent work we produce, but also the equipment we use allows us to concentrate on the creative side of our shoots. For me the word “reliability” is key. I have used PocketWizard radios in all of my shoots, had them out in -40 degrees! At all of my weddings, in the rain, underground in caves and even at the bottom of a grave! They are strong, well-built and deal with the crazy way in which we work. The Plus III’s give me 32 channels, so I can select to use certain flashes at certain times. They work seamlessly with my Elinchrom Ranger RX lights and also speedlights at the same time. We once used eleven PocketWizards to light a bride and groom in the woods! Great fun! I find the manual triggers work best for me because that’s the way I shoot and learned flash. We use the Flex & Mini’s when we are using off-camera High Speed flash with the Canon 580 EXII flashes.”

You can learn more about Brett Harkness at his site, where he features a recent graveyard shoot featuring PocketWizard Plus II units, his training seminars, his gear, his Flash DVD, other training products. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Vimeo. Don’t miss this shoot and others in Light & Shoot / 50 Fashion Photos by Chris Gatcum.


All images and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©Brett Harkness, 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.

Bookmark and Share

11 Responses to “Brett Harkness Driving Miss Daisy at Night”

  1. I have had the pleasure of doing one of Brett’s training courses which was amazing, I have his book and both DVDs and I cannot recommend them all highly enough. My next thing on the training list is a 1:1 with him. He is what I aspire to be – great at what he does and a well-known and wanted photographer. Well done Brett xxx

  2. Great article as always from a true master of ocf

  3. I really love Bretts work especially his use of off camera flash, i have both his training dvd’s and cant praise his teaching style enough, a true master of his craft

  4. Paul Mannion says:

    I had been on a Brett Harkness training course several years ago, where he explained his techniques for using off camera flash.
    The main component for using off camera flash was (apart from the flash itself) radio triggers, specifically Pocket Wizard plus two’s. So with the method behind using off camera flash and the pocket wizards, it was amazing, the results that the pocket wizards allowed me to reach, opened up new doors of creativity and now I wasn’t just limited to daylight only shoots and boring flat on camera flash!!
    Without doubt the best purchases I made was, a Brett Harkness training course and my Pocket wizards Plus two’s!!

    Three years on and I’m currently using the Flex TT5 and Mini TT1 combo for high speed flash, which is another method of using flash to which I’m incorporating into my business, along with the new Pocket Wizards Plus 3’s which I must say are built like tanks and are even better than the fantastic older plus two’s!! Big thank you to Brett Harkness photography and Pocket Wizard, long may you continue!!!

  5. Karl Lysaght says:

    I’ve been on a number of Brett’s courses over the years and we’ve always used the pocket wizards with Brett demonstrating their simplicity and reliability each time which is some achievement considering how hard they are worked during his workshops! Plenty of shooting and techniques being demonstrated throughout the day.

    Based on this, I switched to pocket wizards and added Plus II’s, Plus III’s and Flex TT5 & Mini TT1’s to my kit bag and have honestly never looked back. I should say thanks to Brett for introducing me to them as well as the awesome flash techniques I gained a knowledge of.

  6. Ross Holkham says:

    Always loved Brett’s work, particularly his use of flash. It was the first course I did with him “Summer Weddings” back in 2009 that made me want to become a wedding photographer. I have done many courses with Brett since and his work still continues to inspire me to be a better photographer.

    Brett and pocket wizards go hand in hand, he simply would not be able to try these amazing lighting setups without the use of pocket wizards and has in turn helped hundreds of others by introducing them to the use of off camera flash and pocket wizards. I bought 3 the day after my first course with Brett and have not looked back. In fact my favourite part of a wedding now is seeing how creative I can get with flash and whether its dark, raining or snowing something can always be created. Thanks Brett and Pocket Wizards, keep up the good work!

  7. Tony Bayliss says:

    Fantastic post – love what you do with Flash and the pocket wizards

  8. Guy Levine says:

    Fantastic post Brett- I remember back to the days when you told me what a speed light was, and you corrected me from calling the aperture ‘the hole!’ We have come a long way since then, thanks to all your content and inspiration. It was also pretty exciting to get to use the new plus 3’s on your course. I went out and bought some – skyports in the bin now.

    Your DVD is amazing too – looking forward to the next one!

  9. Amazing! Truly amazing!! – Love your OCF work Brett!

  10. Huge thanks to all that commented on the post , was great fun to do and hope to be doing more in the future. PW have for sure changed the way that I work and have given me the freedom to just get on with the shoot & have fun! Some exciting things coming up this year! Watch this space!!!

  11. Absolutely fantastic…..not our lights though :-) but we totally dig your work Brett and love Pocket Wizards!