Posts Tagged ‘off-camera flash’

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.

Flume - Performance

‘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.


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”).


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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Simon Mackney’s 13-hour day with the British Bobsleigh Team

crop_380-1384962741-2_simonmackneyHere’s a behind the scenes video of Simon Mackney using Plus III Transceivers to photograph the British Bobsleigh team as well as a written account in Simon Mackney’s own words.  Mackney is professional photographer based out of Derbyshire, UK.

“The coach of the Great Britain Bobsleigh team came to us because they wanted images that weren’t your standard boring, normal promotional images.  They already had plenty of those and they were looking for something different.  So we came up with the idea of shooting the athletes with a super hero, film poster kind of style in mind.  We wanted a strong, confident, proud, inspirational, dark, edgy, moody style/look.

The images will be used for a variety of promotional pieces leading up to and during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.  We used PocketWizard Plus III radios with a Paul C. Buff Einstein E640 studio fast flash duration flash units.  With the combination of the PocketWizard radios, the Einstein E640, the Nikon D4 at 11 frames a second and the fast flash duration, we were able to get the shot we wanted.  The guys busting out of the stock, which we used with Bruce Tasker crashing out of the ice shards, we would not have been able to get the shots without the combo. The PocketWizard radios never let us down and they work really well with all our gear.


© Simon Mackney


© Simon Mackney

© Simon Mackney


© Simon Mackney

© Simon Mackney


© Simon Mackney

© Simon Mackney


© Simon Mackney

© Simon Mackney


Massive thanks to the Great British Bobsleigh athletes Bruce Tasker, John Jackson “Jacko”, Joel Fearon, and Stuart Benson. We had a great, 13-hour long day shoot with the guys at the fantastic 2,200 square foot, drive-in Darley Abbey Photographic Studios.  The shots were taken by Simon Mackney and then edited by Simon and the Mackney team.”

Additional thanks for the following:
Video: Thom our Assistant
Music: Our good friend Artist: rotary; Title: scientific

And the Mackney Team

Equipment used:
PocketWizard Plus III Transceivers
Paul C. Buff – Einstein E640 to freeze the action and motion
Nikon D4 and Nikon D800E
Capture one, tethered and linked to ipad


PocketWizard radios are distributed in the UK by JP Distribution.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Simon Mackney, 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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What’s up Pussycat? Özkan Özmen goes on a Portrait Safari

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Özkan Özmen at work

Özkan Özmen is a portrait photographer based in Frankfurt Germany with a penchant for photographing subjects that can bite your head off. No, we’re not talking about models and celebrities with attitude here. We’re talking lions, tigers, and rhinos. As Dorothy famously said to the tin man… “Oh MY!”

According to Özkan, he’s always been into things that crawl, chirp, growl, and purr, and it wasn’t long after he began taking shooting studio portraits for a living that he decided to put together a compact lighting kit and try his luck outside of the comforts and convenience of his studio. Özkan Ozmen’s personal project ultimately took him on a multi-continent journey in which he’s captured wonderful portraits of the sort of wildlife most of us only see in zoo and safari parks, though seldom as in-your-face.

Özkan understood the logistics – not to mention danger involved in trying to capture tight portraits of wild animals using lights. Still and all, rather than being technically boxed in by the harsh ambient lighting conditions common to shooting in the extreme locales he planned on visiting, his goal was to light his subjects and select-focus at wider lens apertures similar to the way he would when shooting portraits in his studio.

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Off-Camera Flash with Mirrorless Cameras


Get Professional Quality Portraits Anywhere!

If you thought a top-of-the-line DSLR was necessary for professional-quality portraits, you will be amazed at the incredible results possible with the current offerings available from compact mirrorless cameras. With full manual controls, RAW file capture, and the ability to use industry standard accessories, you can take advantage of the same tools the big DSLRs use to create beautiful images.

Join host Joe Brady as he puts his mirrorless camera to the test by using PocketWizard PlusX radio triggers and a basic light meter to shape light in environmental location portraits.

Do you shoot only using available light because the concept of fill flash with ambient light continues to be both frustrating and inconsistent? If you want to take control of the light and add shape, depth, and dimension to your subject, this presentation is a must see.

Getting your flash off-camera is the first step towards professional quality portraits. See how easy it can be and learn how to make it work for you!

Date: 25 July 2013
Time: 1pm EDT
Title: Off-Camera Flash with Mirrorless Cameras
Presenter: Joe Brady

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Cliff Mautner shows you why you need an AC3 ZoneController

May is WEDDING MONTH at PocketWizard. We are bringing you people, ideas and photos that celebrate the craft and tools of wedding photography. 

We love Cliff Mautner. Why? His no-nonsense approach to both photography and education is direct, uncompromising and produces results. And, simply put, his wedding and portrait images ROCK. We asked Cliff to tell us why the PocketWizard AC3 ZoneController plus MiniTT1 (Nikon & Canon) and FlexTT5 (Nikon & Canon) changed the way he shoots – overnight. You may remember Cliff from some work we did with him during the release of the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 for Nikon.

Those two things – the dimension and texture of the light – create a mood that flat light doesn’t have. By getting the light off the camera, you can create angles of light that give you the texture, dimension and mood that you can reach out and touch. – Cliff Mautner

Cliff uses one light on a monopod off-camera to achieve his stunning wedding photography. The light he chooses to control manually via his AC3 ZoneController creates depth, personality and vibrant colors. Cliff chooses to deliberately avoid flat lighting, using his one off-camera flash to create these scenes where the focus of the photo is clear, and the bride and groom are stars. By using manual control, he can switch lenses, distances and adjust with the ambient light – all the while knowing that the things that normally trick TTL will not affect him.

Here is a mini gallery of Cliff’s images for your enjoyment.

PW_AC3free_300x250We have other good news for photographers in the USA – if you purchase a MiniTT1 & FlexTT5 (or two FlexTT5 units), you can receive a FREE AC3 by mail after purchase!

Yup, that’s right! Until July 31st, you can take advantage of this awesome offer. You never know, it may change your photographic life, too! LEARN MORE >>

Want to learn more about Cliff Mautner? Check out his website and blog:

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Doug Gordon Video on Off-Camera Lighting

Photographer and photo educator Doug Gordon breaks down a bridal portrait session in this 12+ minute video. He explains how he dials in different intensities from his lights directly from his camera with the PocketWizard FlexTT5, MiniTT1, and the AC3 ZoneController.

Gordon’s premise is to have his system as stripped down and foolproof as possible. Stressing the total lighting control he can achieve from behind the camera, Gordon shows how different lighting setups work with slightly different bridal poses to achieve astonishingly different portraits.

You can learn more about Gordon’s workshops on his site, creativeLIVE, and his YouTube channel.


All images and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©Doug Gordon, 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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Chris Arace’s We Are Vacancy

©Chris Arace

©Chris Arace

We love discovering photographers creating great images with interesting use of off-camera flash. Chris Arace is a Detroit photographer who not only uses PocketWizard radio triggers to light his portaits, but his series “We Are Vacancy” includes images of talent actually handholding speedlights. In his own words, here are his thoughts on his work.

An artistic rebellion of faith and spirit. Eager to create. Created to create. Rise against the onslaught of homogenization in culture, we shall. We Are Vacancy.

The above statement was crafted as part manifesto, part inspiration, and part dedication. It provides a tangible concept for me to visualize and create images for this series of shots. The idea was created while on location last year. I often am running at a fast pace on shoots in some diverse and amazing locations. It was not always possible to create personal, compelling imagery under the time crunch of a production schedule. We Are Vacancy allowed a portable, manageable, and very artistic way to satisfy my personal artistic needs.


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Joe Hawksley at the Gym


©Joe Hawksley

Joel Hawksley, a photographer for The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale, IL, spends a lot of time in the gym. He’s not working out; he’s setting up lights. Fortunately for shooters everywhere, he’s taken the time to show how he does it in an informative post on his blog.

Hawksley goes into serious detail, all in one page, and explains how he does everything to make high school gym athletes look like superstars. The gear he literally lays out in this blog post include the PocketWizard PowerMC2, the FlexTT5, and the AC3 ZoneController.

This blog post provides dozens of large photos, including many behind-the-scenes shots. Watch what Hawksley does to light up big places. You won’t be sorry.

Don’t miss the full post. See more of Hawksley’s work on his site.


All images and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©Joe Hawksley, 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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Chris Gampat at New York Comic Con 2012

Chris Gampat - Comic Con

© 2012 Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat of The Phoblographer recently returned from New York Comic Con 2012, where he shot a variety of heroes, villains, and other comic book inspired denziens.

Chris Gampat - Comic Con

© 2012 Chris Gampat

His kit for the event included “the Olympus OMD EM5, Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95, PocketWizard Plus® III triggers, and the Paul C. Buff Einstein E640.”

It’s great to see our newest triggers out there in the field, doing what they were made to do. Read the post for more images of some costumed crazyness. Connect with The Phoblographer on Twitter and Facebook. See more of Chris’ work on 500px.


All images and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©The Phoblographer, 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 re-post elsewhere without written permission.

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WEBINAR: Creating a Romantic Portrait on Location with Bobbi Lane


© 2012 Bobbi Lane

Join us on November 27, 2012 at 1pm EST for this free live video seminar sponsored by PocketWizard.

Spend an hour with guest photographer Bobbi Lane as she demonstrates the techniques used to create a conceptual image on location, a “romantic portrait”, perhaps as a gift from the bride to the groom. We’ll have Bobbi live in the studio where she can explain in detail the concept, the process, the tools and the final results to creating a beautiful image.

Learn how Bobbi uses fill flash to open shadows and create a more pleasing light and skin tone. While on-camera flash can provide fill, the light sources are still small and often don’t provide a soft and effective illumination. Bobbi will take the flash off camera, using the PocketWizard MiniTT1® and FlexTT5® to create a more pleasing light. Take advantage of the live chat room to ask Bobbi questions as she takes us through the creative process.

This Webinar has been archived, and can be found here.

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