Charleston, South Carolina wedding photographer Patrick Hall teamed up with his friend Lee Morris in 2009 to create the photography resource Fstoppers.com. The site has become an online destination showcasing behind the scenes videos of professional photographers at work. Originally primarily a site known for high quality videos, it has branched out to include written articles by guest photographers, and is worth the time of anyone interested in the art and practice of photography.
'off-camera flash' Category
At long last, we have the final installment of T. Michael Testi’s marathon review of the PocketWizard MiniTT1, FlexTT5, AC3 and AC9 units all for Canon cameras. The first part was a general overview of the products and their capabilities. The second part was a detailed look at the seldom-covered AC3 and AC9 units.
In Part 3, Testi tests his PocketWizard gear at a Gary Thomas Extreme Lighting Workshop to chronicle the Outwest Outlaw Roller Derby team. The venue has spotty lighting at best, and even appears to have unfinished walls. Testi mentions dialing strobe power up or down with his AC3 in several shooting scenarios without completely halting his workflow. He shoots both sports action and more posed portrait work during this workshop.
Testi ends his three part review with the following two paragraphs. They follow in their entirety.
Again and again, I am amazed at the reliability and quality of all of these pieces and how well they work together in any situation. I also love the HyperSync ability that comes with the ControlTL system. This is what allows you to shoot at faster speeds than your camera would normally allow — all the way to 1/8000 second with full power flash. It allows you to capture more creative shots than you can with regular flash.
I also like the fact that everything just works together. There are no cords and no Velcro — just the FlexTT5 and the Speedlite. The ability for the system to work seamlessly with the Alien Bees and the flash unit made this a joy to work with. If you want the ultimate in the ability to control your flash and strobes from right on your camera, then I very highly recommend you add the AC3 and the AC9 to your MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 units.
Thanks for the details, T. Keep up the great work!
One of our favorite shooters, Keith Pytlinski, is still in the game, and still getting innovative photographic results. His Southern California-based M5photography continues to bring exciting sports photography to clients and viewers everywhere.
Pytlinski’s latest shoot involves a Harley Davidson, a Canon 7D, and a variety of PocketWizards. He employed MiniTT1 units, FlexTT5 units, and Plus II units to get some great-looking images with remote triggering. A handy Magic Arm was employed to get some compositions and angles you don’t see every day.
Pytlinski has also gone to great lengths to more fully test his MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 units. The results can be read at his new post entitled “Remote Flash and a New Mountain Bike Shoot.” The story features some great shots and serious details about technical setups with his strobes, camera, and PocketWizard gear. Nice one, Keith!
Be sure to check out M5photography’s site for more great work.
A childhood love of playing sports has been parlayed into a photographic career by Mike Nowak in Southern California. At high school in east San Diego, his love of playing sports was augmented by helping to document those sports. As he got involved with each new athletic endeavor, he would spend some time photographing it, starting with body boarding and surfing. His other major interest was college football at San Diego State. While shooting the players, he learned some portraiture techniques, worked with some other photographers, and began developing his own style.
Darren R. McKean and his wife Fiona run Solway Photographic in the United Kingdom. Darren just wrote us to share his PocketWizard Experience. Here it is in his words, along with some images.
I set up a wedding shoot to promote a Victorian hotel in Dumfries, Scotland on Monday 13th December. Knowing the hotel might not provide the best light, plus a winters day in Scotland, we purchased some PocketWizards, watched the online videos and they really are so easy to use. We are using a MiniTT1 and two FlexTT5 units with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and a 50D with 580 and 430 EX11 Speedlites.
We watched a couple of the tutorials on the PocketWizard Web site and with recommendation from Brett Harkness and Damien Lovegrove we took the plunge. We both found them unbelievably easy to use, especially using exposure compensation in camera. We now can’t imagine being without them and find ourselves looking for new ways to use them.
Thanks so much, Darren and Fiona. We hope you continue to enjoy your PocketWizards!
With family on the same part of land since 1849, Robert Snow is a fifth generation Floridian. With roots that deep, it’s no wonder he’s drawn to all things water which the coast of Florida can offer. A native of the Tampa area, Snow got involved with photography while in high school. Through a teacher, he found the Southeast College of Photography in Daytona Beach, Florida. Before graduation, he began assisting. “That’s really what helped,” he says. “That really started to open my eyes to this world of advertising, photography, and editorial photography. It was pretty exciting.”
Speak about commercial photography for any length of time with Ken Kaminesky and eventually his deep knowledge of the state of the industry will come to light. This knowledge did not come easily or quickly. Attending his first year of college, he took a photography course and was enamored with darkroom work. Eventually, he left school to concentrate on commercial photography by working for pro shooters.
Rick Denham was first featured last year on our blog. He’s been running intensive workshops on off-camera flash, and is a noted wedding photographer in Ontario, Canada. He recently sent us the following video, along with the description below. Enjoy!
“This was a video shot and produced by Jay Lupish from Captivate Bridal for the off-camera workshop I did back in February. We had 12 students from all over southern Ontario at a small bed and breakfast in Niagara on the lake. We did shoots involving some custom cars, models, bride and grooms, and some food photography, as well. Oh, and by the way, I only use PocketWizards with my Canon 580EX II’s.
Thanks for sharing, Rick!
Keith Pytlinski has posted a brief article on a shoot he did of an off-road Volkswagen Beetle. Despite the bug getting stuck, which required digging it out, Pytlinski was able to get some impressive shots before the sun completely disappeared.
Pytlinski used a Canon 7D body with a Tokina 12-24mm f/4 lens, and Boling 2×300 watt strobes, which were fired by PocketWizard Plus II units. His description of his lighting set-up follows, and is in his own words.
Lighting set up: Since the sun was setting fast I didn’t have a lot of time to set up. As mentioned above I used Boling strobes with the battery pack, having one strobe camera left and one camera right. Each strobe was set up about the height of the fender on the VW. As with all my off camera flash work, I used the PocketWizard Plus IIs which allowed me to fire the strobes remotely and move around in between the lights without having another cable to worry about.
Thanks, and great job, Keith!
Dividing his time between Florida and Colorado, Chris Garrison is all about photographing extreme sports in astounding natural locations. Summers, you can find this Naples, Florida-native in his home state, shooting wakeboarders and skimboarders. In winters, he’s in Colorado, freezing the action of snowboarders, extreme skiers, and freestyle skiers. In between, he somehow finds time to shoot skateboarders.
A sports enthusiast himself, Garrison was a hockey player. When repeated knee injuries derailed his NHL dreams, he picked up a camera and began photographing his friends wakeboarding. “I went from being an athlete to taking pictures of everyone now,” he says, laughing.
We first learned about Garrison when we saw the photo above, which was chosen as the PDN Photo of the Day. The shot has gotten him a lot of attention. “That was one of those right angles, right spot,” he explains. “The guy holding the flash in the water—that guy happened to be at the right spot, holding it at the right angle.”
Garrison prefers shooting snowboarders more than anything else. While living in Orlando, he one day made the decision to move to Colorado, and did so within a week. A year and a half later, he was shooting professionally full-time. “Everyone asks me how I got there real fast,” he says. “It was mainly finding the riders and the big things, the social networking things. Like everything else, it’s being in the right place at the right time, and who you know.” He goes on to explain once you have a relationship with a rider who “makes it,” they then make it onto a team. At that point, you begin photographing the whole team.
The selling of his images of teams involves a series of steps. First, his main rider will submit Garrison’s photos to the team manger. If the manager wants to use them, he’ll buy the photos, such as for an advertisement or a magazine. For snowboarding, each magazine has its own submission process. Typically, he’ll shoot all winter season. At the end of the season, there’s a submission period. During this time, he’ll meet with senior editors as they go through photos and select what they want, including giving notes about possible color correction modifications they might suggest. Overseas magazines are examined and negotiated via FTP and email. Garrison always sends RAW files to prove the integrity of the images to editors. In this way, they can see a sequence hasn’t been altered in Photoshop. He removes dust in Lightroom, but that’s the extent of his retouching.
Sports photography is in Garrison’s blood. When asked to do weddings, or photograph engagement sessions on a beach, he always turns the jobs down. “I’ll do it for my close, close friends, but it’s nothing that really interests me for some reason,” he says. “I feel like anyone else right next to me on the beach can get the same picture if they had the same equipment. With snowboarding, wakeboarding, skimboarding, and surfing, the timing has to be right.”
Garrison’s years as an athlete himself have given him an edge in what to watch for when timing his shots. “You have the rider,” he says. “If he’s going off and backsliding, you have to know exactly when he’s going to look good in the picture—not like he’s going to die. You have to actually shoot about a half-second to a quarter-second before it, too, because the next time you see him and everything goes through his body to react and you hit the camera cell, it’s a quarter second, at least. The picture won’t get printed if the rider’s not grabbing how he’s supposed to be, or if you shot a quarter-second late, get a shot of his back and not the front. Or if your going for a sponsor picture trying to get the sponsor shots on the board and stuff.”
Currently shooting a Nikon D3 and a D2X as backup, his lenses are a 14mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm, and the 10.5mm fish eye. To fire his lights, he uses PocketWizard MultiMax units, exclusively, most often shooting at 1/300th, 1/400th, and 1/500th of a second. He shoots without a tripod, even when using big glass.
When shooting winter sports, to dial in his exposures, Garrison takes test shots before the riders leave for their targets. “You can make it if you’re lighting the jump up, too, and not just the rider. You can tell how the snow’s going to look by how the rider’s going to look as well. The snow is super reflective, and most of the rider’s jackets and pants are going to be bright colors that are super reflective, too. If the snow’s completely blown out, the rider’s going to be completely blown out,” he explains.
Claiming skateboarders are easier to photograph due to locations and lack of snow, he also reports hassles with authorities often present a different kind of difficulty. Skateboarders are willing to repeat jumps and moves more often than skiers are, affording Garrison multiple chances to get things right. He stresses being respectful when dealing with police as key to avoiding serious confrontations. He also swaps out memory cards in order to help preserve images in case someone demands he delete photos, or confiscates a card.
Shooting in water presents challenges unlike the snows of Colorado. When shooting the above photo, he lost a Nikon D2 when the wave crashed over his head. With water and snow sports magazines getting thinner and thinner during the recession, Garrison finds himself stretching out and photographing muscle cars in Florida. Whatever he trains his lenses on, we’re sure he’ll continue to deliver the drama he’s become known for.
Written by Ron Egatz