Our PocketWizard team connected with students from Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) at the PhotoPlus Expo (PPE) last fall.
MVCC Photography Professor Jerome LaLonde brought his students to New York City to attend PPE to learn a little about the photography industry. The group met with photographer Lenny Christopher, a MVCC alum and former student of Professor LaLonde. Lenny is also a member of PocketWizard’s support team.
Working with the students, Lenny led a workshop teaching them on how to use off-camera flash and the benefits of using PocketWizard to take advantage of HyperSync.
High Line Photowalk
One of the highlights of the workshop was when Lenny took the students on a photo walk on the High Line – an elevated park above NYC and demonstrated the benefits of how to use flash creatively to elevate the student’s images. This unique vantage point helped give a different perspective on the busy city and allowed time for the students to play with the PocketWizard radios and lights. It was fun to see the students get excited by flash, and the HyperSync capabilities opened their eyes to new creative possibilities. HyperSync is a feature patented by PocketWizard and enables the ability to use a flash at a high shutter speed. When used with portraiture, photographers can use a fast shutter speed to control the ambient light and take advantage of using a wide open aperture to achieve a soft background even on a bright sunny day.
The PocketWizard Off-Camera Flash Challenge
After the walk, Lenny challenged the students to use a PocketWizard to elevate their portraits for a chance to win a set of PocketWizard radios. We asked the students to submit their top photos at the end of the semester for our team to review. The students went back to campus in Utica, NY and had the rest of the semester to submit.
We saw some amazing images and judging was tough. In the end we choose our top 3 which are posted below.
The Top Three
The winning image is a black and white portrait taken by Collen Szatko, using off camera flash and shot on 120 film! The judges loved how sharp the image was and they loved the feel and story it told. The off-camera flash really helped tell the story and helped to accentuate the features of her model.
Want to learn more about how you can use HyperSync to elevate your photos? Follow this link.
Last week we gave you a little insight into what goes into setting up remote cameras for the Super Bowl by speaking with photographer’s assistant Shawn Cullen. After the big event, we caught up with Shawn to see how it went and get some more detail about what it’s like to shoot one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
Photographers Does it Take to Photograph the Super Bowl?
In short, the answer is a lot! And, it takes a lot to support them. For USA Today Sports, there were 12 photographers, 10 runners, at least 8 editors and IT staff to make sure the network stayed up. The photographers were stationed as follows:
2 photographers, one on each sideline
2 photographers, one in each end zone
4 photographers on the upper level, one level up from field
1 photographer stationed in an upper level shooting position
2 photographers roaming upper levels for action and beauty shots
1 photographer dedicated to triggering the 6 remote cameras. (See last week’s blog for more information.)
When possible, the photographers are connected to the network to
transfer images as soon as possible after they are taken. When network connectivity is not possible, 10
runners are stationed to grab cards from the photographers and run them to the
command center. The cards are placed in labeled bags and the runners are
instructed to never take their hands off the cards. The command center was set
up in an unused ticket office where editors review and select the best images to
put on the wires.
On Super Bowl Sunday morning, USA Today had a staff meeting with
everyone where they review the game plan and what to look for including
players, coaches, half-time performers, singers, cheerleaders and the crowd. While
this historic game did not have huge amounts of scoring action, there was still
plenty to capture. While Shawn didn’t know exactly how many photographs were
taken, he estimated around 75,000 or more.
Remote Trigger Radio Frequency and Interference
PocketWizard radios communicate wirelessly via radio waves. Just like any radio, they operate on certain frequencies and some frequencies are better than others. In North and South America (and some parts of Asia) we use the 340 – 354 MHz range because it is the least crowded frequency range for our class of wireless triggering devices. Other frequencies, used by our competitors, like the 2.4 GHz band, have many more interfering devices on them. These frequencies are getting more and more crowded as they are used by Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and wireless microphones. That makes the PocketWizard frequency the best because it is the least crowded which improves reliability and reduces the possibility of missed shots.
PocketWizard Best Practices to Minimize Radio Interference
While our frequency range is the most reliable, there are a few best
practices that we can share to enhance reliability and Shawn has a few of his
Whenever possible, try to maintain a line of sight between the radios and keep the antennas parallel. While radio does not require line of sight, it does help dramatically.
When working in the catwalks of large stadiums, Shawn feels he gets the best reception by pointing the antennas slightly downward.
Make sure the radios are not near any large metal, concrete, or high water-content objects. People and trees are mostly water!
Hard to avoid any of this in a large stadium! To minimize interference, Shawn uses a long cable to keep the radios as far from the camera as possible and 2 of our non-metallic 4 inch mounting bars (MB4) screwed together to position them as far from the metal stadium supports as possible.
Do not mount the radios close to the ground – try to have them several feet above the Earth or building floors whenever possible.
In order to get that awesome low perspective, try and mount the PocketWizard above the camera if the camera is low.
Shawn swears by Long Range mode to extend the signal even farther. “Dead spots” have a number of causes, but the solution is usually the same: move the radio a few inches or feet away from the problem area.
Test, Test, and Test Again.
The Super Bowl 2019 was played at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, arguably the best venue in the NFL. Some of its features include a 360-degree Halo Video Board that frames the roof opening – it is the world’s largest LED scoreboard at 63,000 square feet. Fans enjoy complete connectivity with 2,000 TV screens – even embedded into bathroom mirrors and on the 101-foot-tall “Mega Column” three-dimensional video board. The venue has 1,800 wireless access points where 71,000 people can concurrently stream. Read more about the stadium here.
While all of these amenities make for a great fan
experience, they can interfere with radio signals. At the Super Bowl there is a frequency
coordinator who manages all the frequencies to minimize interference.
Whether you are shooting your child’s pee-wee
football game, or the Super Bowl, or best advice is to test, test and test
again your set up and adjust where necessary.
Want to learn more about radio waves? Check out our Wiki!
Want to see some of the epic photographs taken by USA Today sport photographers? Check out their gallery of their 100 best photos.
Who’s ready for some football? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to photograph the biggest event in sports? We talked with Shawn Cullen who works as a photographer’s assistant with USA Today Sports and was setting up on Friday for Sunday’s big event. He explained how he sets up to captures this epic event.
Remote Camera Set-Up
Shawn has 6 remote cameras all set up in the catwalk aimed at
key areas on the field.
Two at the 50 Yard Line – Both are aimed at the logo in the center to capture all the activity at the center of the field including the coin toss. One remote camera is equipped with a super wide lens to capture the end-to-end field overview including the scoreboard. Shots from this camera are helpful since capturing the scoreboard will give you an overview of the game at any time.
One at Each 25 Yard Line – Aimed at the roman numeral logo LIII.
One at Each End Zone – Pointing down the field poised to capture a field goal and the trophy presentation.
Custom IDs – A Premium Difference Only Offered by PocketWizard
PocketWizard Plus III radios are attached to each camera. The radios are tuned with a Custom ID which is a private digital code that ensures that only you can trigger your remote camera. In crowded shooting environments, like the Super Bowl, Custom IDs give you the confidence to know that your remote camera isn’t going to be accidentally triggered by another photographer. While all the PocketWizards are set to Custom ID, they are programmed to different zones. PocketWizard Plus III units offer the ability use 4 different zones. All the cameras are connected to an ethernet cable so that the image editors can have fast access to the images to review and post online as quickly as possible.
Long Range Mode
The radios are all set to Long Range mode to extend the range. The Plus III Transceiver can trigger a remote up to 500 meters (1600 feet). An indoor football stadium is not an ideal shooting environment as there is a lot of noise. Using Long Range Mode nearly doubles the effective triggering distance in almost any environment.
During the game, the remote cameras will be triggered by USA Today photographer and engineer James Lang. The cameras are all connected through a VLAN network and a video feed from the camera’s eye piece gives James the camera’s view. James remotely triggers the cameras when the action is right.
On Friday, two days before the game, all the remote cameras are set and tested individually. In fact, USA Today photographers are required to participate in a “Burn Test” where the photographers fire all cameras at the same time to test the network. This is to simulate what might happen at any critical point in the game when everyone is trying to capture the action. This is done so that they can anticipate and correct any issues that might arise.
Shawn and James – good luck at the game, we can’t wait to see your photos!
The photographers that work for PocketWizard can’t wait to photograph the upcoming lunar eclipse called the Super Wolf Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse. Depending on where you live, it will start on the evening of Sunday, January 20, 2019 and for others, in the early morning of January 21. To check when the eclipse will be happening for you, check out the Time and Date site here.
In preparation, we wanted to share with you our tips and equipment along with some of our favorite links to help you successfully capture this celestial event.
Make sure to choose your location wisely. We like to use the scouting app Photopills when looking for the best locations to shoot. They even wrote a guide for the lunar eclipse that you can read here.
Once you know where you will shoot, check the weather to make sure you’re prepared. You don’t want to be out in the cold without a hat or in the rain with no chance of seeing the moon.
An iPhone isn’t going to cut it when trying to shoot the moon. For this shoot you’re going to need a DLSR or mirrorless camera. A tripod will also be necessary to make sure your camera is stable as possible.
To further reduce camera shake you will want to use a trigger release. Our favorite is using two PocketWizard Plus III radios. One radio goes on your camera’s hot shoe and connected to the camera with a remote camera cable. The camera is triggered by pressing the “Test” button on the 2nd radio you hold in your hand. This setup will allow you to trigger several cameras at once or even from your warm living room or car while your camera braves the cold.
Try a Time-Lapse
You can also consider a time-lapse. Check out this tutorial on PhotographyLife.com which as some amazing examples.
For this you will need to use a MultiMAX II with intervalometer with a remote camera cable. This will allow you to shoot the whole event in a sequence and then stitch it together in photoshop later. This is a great option if you are trying to highlight the landscape as well as the moon. For information on how to set up the MultiMAX II, check out the user guide, page 35.
We suggest you shoot in Manual mode and keep your aperture around F/8 and your shutter speed at 1/250 to freeze the movement of the full moon. You might be surprised as how fast it is moving. Try and keep your ISO as low as it can go and increase as needed. Check your images and adjust your settings accordingly. Visit our friends at B&H for a great tutorial on photographing a lunar eclipse with an in-depth discussion on settings.
Get creative! The eclipse will last a relatively long time. Using a PocketWizard and off camera flash, try a pop of light in the foreground to capture some foreground elements or to capture a rim lit silhouette. Follow this link to earlier blog for inspiration.
Get some good shots? Share them on Instagram and tag us! @PocketWizard. We can’t wait to see your creative approach!
PocketWizard radios have a well earned-reputation for being the most reliable, feature-packed and easy-to-use solution for remote flash and camera triggering. And, our triggering distance is legendary. In ideal conditions, our Plus III can work up to a distance of 1600 feet (500m) – that’s a distance of over 4 football fields!
While they are incredibly reliable, we know that sometimes things don’t go as planned. Here’s a video that will help you with some basic troubleshooting techniques.
If you need a little more help than this video can provide, our support team is available to help from 9AM – 4PM EST, Monday – Friday. You can reach our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This video covers basic troubleshooting for PocketWizard Plus II, Plus III, Plus IV, PlusX, and MultiMAX radios.
Some helpful timestamps and links:
The photo above, orginally posted on Instagram by Andrew Jay (@andrewjaybw), caught our attention: Those colors! That snow! That lighting!! We reached out to him to see if he would share some of his secrets.
“For this photo I used 2 PocketWizard FlexTT5s on 2 Nikon SB-900 Speedlights and a PocketWizard MiniTT1 on a Nikon D5. I used a 70-200mm VRII at 200mm and my settings were: 1/1250, f2.8 and ISO 400. Using the PocketWizards, I was able to use a fast shutter speed with HyperSync to capture the powder spray. To generate the best light for this shot, the subject in this photo wore a small hiking backpack with the speed lights and PocketWizards attached!”
“I love using remote/off-camera flash – it’s a great way to create dynamic and unique lighting. Photography is basically painting with light and PocketWizards make it possible.” ~Andrew Jay
For the sweet shot below, Andrew gave us the following information:
Nikon D3s, 70-200mm at 116mm: 1/250, f4, ISO200
Made possible with 2 PocketWizard FlexTT5s and a PocketWizard MiniTT1 and 2 Nikon SB-900 Speedlights.
Andrew’s secret for the best powder days? Ski and ride British Columbia! One of his favorite mountains is Big White Ski Resort in Kelowna, BC. Check out more of Andrew’s amazing work on his website: www.andrew-jay.com/
Getting together with family and friends this holiday weekend? Get yourself in the photo using PocketWizards set up for Auto-Relay.
At PhotoPlus Expo in NYC this past October, we hosted an informal photowalk where we showed participants how to set up a selfie using a remote DSLR camera and an off-camera flash using Auto-Relay. Our location was on the High Line, a former elevated train line that has been converted into an elevated walkway, green space and park.
Auto Relay Set Up – Three PocketWizard Radios
In order to take this selfie, we held a PocketWizard Plus III in our hand and used it to trigger our camera in sync with an off-camera flash. This is called Auto-Relay and it requires three PocketWizard radios. Auto-Relay is the only situation where not all PocketWizard radios are set to the same Channel.
We set the transmitting PocketWizard Plus III radio in our hand to Tx only and set it to a desired Channel and Zone.
We set the relaying Plus III for our remote camera to the same Channel and Zone and set the triggering mode to TxRx. We put this radio on our camera’s hot shoe and connected it to the camera with the remote camera cable.
We connected our remote flash with a sync cable to our third PocketWizard Plus III set to Rx Only. We set the Zone on this radio the same as the other radios, but we set the Channel one higher than the other PocketWizard radios. (If we had them all on the same Channel, the timing of the flash would fire before the camera and miss the shot.) We could have used multiple lights – they would all need their own PocketWizard all set up the same.
Making sure all our radios were set to the same Zone, we took our places then pressed the TEST button on the PocketWizard in our hand to take the shot and the magic happened seamlessly.
To capture the best city lights, we used a somewhat slower shutter speed to let in as much of the ambient light as possible.
Shutter Speed: ¼ sec
For more information, check our our Wiki. Note that Auto-Relay can be accomplished with our other PocketWizard radios in the same manner.
At PhotoPlus Expo 2018, we loved hearing one of our favorite photographers, Bob Carey, reflect on his humorous and inspiring journey of art as a means of healing. His project – The Tutu Project – is an amazing example of therapy through laughter and art.
We were so inspired by Bob’s passion project that we created a limited edition pink PocketWizard Bonus Bundle and pledged to donate 10% of all sales from this special pink kit. (Read the press release about the product launch here.) Today, we are thrilled to present a donation of $3,685 to The Carey Foundation. We hope it will go a long way to help patients and their families impacted by breast cancer to cover expenses not normally covered by insurance.
We’re so proud to be a part of this feel-good project that is making an impact in the world. Thank you, Bob and Linda, for your tireless efforts to help those in need, and bringing a smile to so many.
If you are interested in supporting The Carey Foundation, check out the website: https://thetutuproject.com/. We also have a limited number of Pink Plus III Bonus Bundles available for $275 (10% of sale price is donated) and Pink G-Wiz Bags for $24. The bags are only available in the PocketWizard online store and 100% of proceeds from the bags will be donated to The Carey Foundation.
If you missed the talk, here’s a shortened version of it. Enjoy!!
We are back in our Vermont home office after four wonderful days in New York City at PhotoPlus Expo (PPE) and we thought we’d share our list of our top 10 PPE experiences.
Our booth looked amazing! Our eagle hunter image taken by the amazing photographer Sasha Leahovcenco stopped people in their tracks. The beautiful image was of course made possible with PocketWizard!
Our president was also a show-stopper. Matthew channeled his inner steam punk alter ego and donned his top hat to walk the show floor. He won’t soon be forgotten.
We loved hearing photographer Bob Carey reflect on his humorous and inspiring journey of art as a means of healing in his talk at the UniquePhoto booth. (Thank you Unique Photo!) We learned all about his project – The Tutu Project – a wonderful example of how laughter and art can help the healing process. The project helps to provide funds to help breast cancer patients cover expenses not covered by insurance. We plan to dedicate a blog directly to Bob’s talk shortly – watch for it!
Seeing Bob in action taking one of his iconic tutu photos in the Javits Center was definitely one of our highlights! We love that special pink PocketWizard!
PocketWizard employees are all photographers in our free time. Coming from rural Vermont, we were excited to hit the streets of New York and capture some urban images. Our most memorable adventure involved heading across the East River to capture the moonset over Manhattan. It was worth the early morning wake up!
We hosted a very informal photowalk on the High Line where we practiced taking portraits using an off-camera flash with a city scape background. We all learned a lot and had fun in the process. Look for a blog devoted specifically to what we learned in the near future.
Lenny from our service team conducted another photowalk with students from his alma mater Mohawk Valley Community College. They practiced doing off camera flash and hypersync. Now they are practicing what they learned – we can’t wait to see the results!
With all our photowalks, we got lots of steps in. Our step counters hadn’t seen numbers that high in a while. That allowed us to indulge little…which leads us to our next top experience.
New York food – the best! (Need we say more?)
Finally, one of our top experiences was meeting our diverse group of customers. From seasoned pros to weekend shooters – we loved sharing what we know and learning from our customers. I think some of you know our products better than we do! One line we heard over and over “I’ve been using PocketWizards for years – and they still work!”
Did you know that PocketWizard has been making radio triggers for remote flash and remote photography for over 25 years? While PocketWizard is not new, this blog is. We’re making some changes around here with the singular purpose of getting closer to our customers and building a community of PocketWizard users. We want to share images and techniques that will spark your imagination.
Introducing our New Sales Manager To help us build our PocketWizard community, we’d like to introduce a new member of our team – our new Sales Manager, Sarah Lavoie. Sarah brings a wealth of experience in sales and marketing and a passion for photography. We sat down with her for a chat about her new role at PocketWizard.
What brought you to PocketWizard?
I have been working as a sales and marketing professional in the medical imaging industry for years and pursuing my passion for photography on the weekends. When PocketWizard decided to expand their team, I jumped at the opportunity. I feel so lucky to have connected with this great team of people creating amazing products – right in my home town of Burlington, Vermont!
What are your first impressions?
The products are rock solid and have stood the test of time. PocketWizards have been around for years and the user base is incredibly loyal. PocketWizard radios that were purchased years ago, still connect and work with the newest cameras and the newest PocketWizard radios. Our PocketWizard radios are made in the USA and we have a local service team that supports our customers with questions and repairs. How great is that? This business model isn’t common today and our customers appreciate that.
Tell us a little about your photography
I would call myself an advanced amateur or hobbyist. I love photography and I love learning new techniques. I spend a lot of time looking at photos from other photographers and studying them to figure out how they captured that epic shot. Then I try to incorporate those techniques into my own work. These days, I’m working on my sport photography techniques as I watch my kids participate in their sporting events.
What is your experience using PocketWizard radios?
I remember seeing the most beautiful wedding photo with rim lighting taken with a remote flash many years ago. The photographer had written a blog about the photo and indicated that she had used a PocketWizard to create it. My first reaction was “what is a PocketWizard?” But that was as close as I got to using one. I wasn’t sure how I could use them in my amateur photography. When I took the job at PocketWizard, I borrowed a set. It has opened my imagination to a whole world of possibilities. For all those shots I hold in my imagination, PocketWizards make it possible – I can’t wait to share my results!