Posts Tagged ‘ControlTL’

Erik Seo’s Epic Skiing and Riding Pix Explode off the Page

Without trying to sound cliché, the first word that comes to mind when viewing Erik Seo’s action sports photography is ‘explosive’, and that’s not simply because snow and people tend to be flying all over the place in many of his photographs.

Mostly self-taught, Seattle-born Seo (rhymes with –‘say-oh’) began photographing fellow ski-bums while attending Washington State University with a major in landscape architecture and just enough photography classes on the side to get him hooked for life.

Jen Hudak skiing in the trees at Mt. Asahidake, Hokkiado, Japan

© Erik Seo 2015


For inspiration and visual direction he read books about lighting and studied the work of others in the field whose work he respected. He also shot a lot and pushed himself to see if he could do it even better. Seo decided to shoot full time about 30-seconds after learning his day job had been terminated. It’s a decision he’s content with.

Winter sports photography is as demanding as location photography gets. Challenges include mountain terrain, extreme cold, snow, ice, rain, slippery surfaces with obstructions – not all of which are immediately apparent –  speed, sun glare, or any combination of the above. Add remote-triggered TTL flash into the mix only makes things that more interesting.


20120328_T_Wallisch_003 (1)

© Erik Seo 2015


Seo’s working tools include Canon EOS 1D  and 5D Mark-series camera bodies with a trio of Canon L-series wide zooms, a fast 85mm and the all-but-mandatory 70-200/f2.8L II zoom.

For flash, Seo uses Canon and Nikon Speedlites, Elinchrom Ranger RX AS and Ranger Quadra flash systems, along with Paul C Buff Einstein flash heads in various combinations depending on the scope and parameters of the assignment.

Tom Wallisch

© Erik Seo 2015


Regardless of whose lighting systems he ends up using, all communications between his cameras and lights go through his PocketWizard remote triggering system, which, as Erik jokingly says, frees him from having to drag along “about 834,234,324-feet of sync cords”.

Erik’s remote triggering system includes FlexTT5 and Plus III Transceivers. He also makes use of PocketWizard PowerST4 Receivers, which enable remote control of Elinchrom RX-series flash systems with PocketWizard ControlTL technologies. Also included in Erik Seo’s PocketWizard triggering kit are AC3 ZoneControllers, which enable three zones of off-camera flash control.

Getting through these challenges requires equal measures of speed, stamina, lightning reflexes, and enough common sense to know when to pull back. (According to Erik it also requires always having a supply of plastic bags and waterproof tape on hand to better ensure moisture doesn’t get into places it doesn’t belong.) It also helps to have camera gear that won’t let you down when things start to rock and roll.


© Erik Seo 2015

© Erik Seo 2015


The combination of bright, high-altitude sunlight and blowing snow can easily push contrast ranges off the charts making fill-flash all but mandatory for revealing detail in otherwise blackened shadows.

To freeze the action Seo often requires shutter speeds shorter than the 1/200th and 1/250th-second top sync speeds of his Canon camera bodies. Using PocketWizard’s exclusive HyperSync® feature, Seo has the option of selecting shutter speeds as short as 1/8000th-second, which is far more effective at freezing fast-moving subjects compared to the native top sync speeds of most DSLR and mirrorless cameras.


Tim McChesney jumping the Death Valley gap in Salt Lake City, Ut

© Erik Seo 2015


“PocketWizard radio’s allow me to craft the light the way I’d like, at any time of day. HyperSync allows me more flexibility in overpowering daylight and punching light into the harsh shadows of my outdoor scenes.”

Erik also makes use of the flexible Quad-Zone Triggering feature of his PocketWizard Transceivers, which allow him to quickly switch between flash systems while adjusting power settings on the fly.


Clayton Vila transferring from one wallride to the opposite side

© Erik Seo 2015


More than just a flash trigger, Erik also uses his PocketWizard system for triggering cameras remotely. “I use PocketWizard radios to control my lighting, but also (use them) to wirelessly fire a second or third camera connected to PocketWizard motor drive cables. It’s always good to have another camera blasting away at 10fps when you only get one pop of flash power per attempt… You never know if you will get more than one opportunity to photograph the action so the more cameras you can have covering the action, the better. Some of my best photos including my cover shot of one of Powder Magazine’s Photo Annual have been captured through remotely-fired cameras.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 6.13.33 PM

Shot from helicopter at a distance of about 2000′ from remote flash. © Erik Seo 2015


Seo can also testify to the range and accuracy of his PocketWizard flash triggering system. “Last winter I did a photo shoot for Aspen Skiing Company out of a helicopter from a distance of about 2,000 feet from the subject and we were able to successfully HypersSync with my Elinchrom Ranger’s and Paul Buff Einstein flash units.  Both Seo and his client went home happy that day.

“Thanks to people at PocketWizard for creating the tools I need to shape the light to my liking.”

To see more of Erik Seo’s work, check out his website.

To learn more about the benefits of getting your flash off your camera and triggering it remotely, please visit

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Erik Seo 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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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:

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:  

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Jaleel King Defines His Moments

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 8.20.01 PMDefining moments are part of life and they typically arrive with little if any warning, and at any time, day or night. Jaleel King’s life-defining moment came to him at the age of eight in the form of an errant shotgun blast that left him in a wheelchair.

Fast-forward about 30 years and Jaleel still faces obstacles, though these days his obstacles have to do with not having the right lens on his camera when he needs it, or not being able to get high or low enough to get the angle just right. In other words, many of the obstacles Jaleel deals with on a workday basis are the same obstacles other photographers regularly deal with… minus the wheelchair.

Jadore Bleu was photographed using  Lighting AB800s in the back on slave with an AB800 with a beauty dish beauty dish as key synced to a PocketWizard FlexTT5  Camera: Canon 40D with PocketWizard MiniTT1.

Jadore Bleu was photographed using AlienBees B800s in the back on slave with an AlienBees B800 with a beauty dish as key synced to a PocketWizard FlexTT5 Transceiver.
Camera: Canon 40D with PocketWizard MiniTT1 radio trigger. © Jaleel King






Jaleel King’s work is a mix of street journalism, weddings, and studio portraiture that are striking to say the least, especially considering his journey to this point in his life. Take a browse through his website or Facebook page and you’ll discover a person who is hasn’t allowed a life-altering incident stop him from pursuing his love of photography. In the studio or in the street, Jaleel King has taken life by the gonads and run with it.

Portraits lit with a PCB - Einstein with a PocketWizard PowerMC2 unit inside of a Wescott 50" Apollo  and two Canon 600EX Speedlites synced to PocketWizard FlexTT5s Camera: Canon EOS 1D MK IV with PocketWizard MiniTT1 and AC3.

Portraits lit with a Paul C. Buff Einstein E640 flash with a PocketWizard PowerMC2 Receiver inside of a Wescott 50″ Apollo and two Canon 600EX Speedlites synced to PocketWizard FlexTT5 Transceivers.
Camera: Canon EOS 1D MK IV with PocketWizard MiniTT1 radio trigger and AC3 ZoneController. © Jaleel King

The idea of wireless flash always appealed to Jaleel King because as he puts it “wheelchairs and cables are a bad mix”. Initially self-taught, for a long time King was unaware of the existence of wireless flash. It wasn’t until he had an opportunity to be on set at a ‘real’ photo shoot that it all came together. For the first time he was able to see how equipment and trained talent can work together to create truly professional photographs. And in his particular case, knowing he could do away with cables – one of the banes of his photographic existence, was all he needed to hear.  From that moment on King knew this is what he wanted to do and nothing would stop him.

KP Morgan

© Jaleel King

Jaleel’s lighting system is a mixed bag. Being a Canon man, his system includes Canon 580EX II & 600EX-RT Speedlites, AlienBees B800s, Einstein E60’s, and an assortment of beauty dishes, reflectors, and umbrellas. Depending on the circumstances, his PocketWizard arsenal includes MiniTT1 Transmitters,  Flex TT5 Transceivers,  PowerMC2 Receivers, and AC3 ZoneControllers.

One of a series of portraits for HelpPortrait_2011. Lighting: Canon 580EXII Speedlites on background with PocketWizard FlexTT5. Main light is an Alien Bee 1600 inside a Wescott 24" Apollo with a PocketWizard FlexTT5 and an AC9. Camera: Canon EOS 1D MK IV with a PocketWizard MiniTT1 and an AC3.

One of a series of portraits for HelpPortrait_2011.
Lighting: Canon 580EX II Speedlites in background with PocketWizard FlexTT5’s. Main light is an AlienBees B1600 inside a Wescott 24″ Apollo with a PocketWizard FlexTT5 Transceiver and an AC9 AlienBees Adapter.
Camera: Canon EOS 1D MK IV with a PocketWizard MiniTT1 Transmitter and an AC3 ZoneController. © Jaleel King

Lamarr was photographed from 'the Rig' using a Lighting AB1600 with a standard reflector coupled to a PocketWizard FlexTT5 and an AC9. His Canon EOS 1D MK IV was coupled to a PocktWizard MiniTT1 and an AC3.

Lamarr was photographed from ‘the Rig’ using a
AlienBees B1600 with a standard reflector coupled to a PocketWizard FlexTT5 Transceiver and an AC9 AlienBees Adapter. His Canon EOS 1D MK IV was coupled to a PocktWizard MiniTT1 Transmitter and an AC3. © Jaleel King


















PocketWizard radios were not Jaleel’s first choice of remote triggers, but it didn’t take long to figure out why the pros all seemed to be using PocketWizards, and these days PocketWizard radios are the only brand he takes on assignment.

‘The RIG’ as Jaleel calls it, is essentially a rolling studio with a compact wireless lighting system Jaleel is currently piecing together. The way Jaleel describes it ” I originally thought it would be uber sweet to have a rolling studio so I can do some unique and experimental street work on my own with a light setup ready to go.

As a means of taking control of the light outdoors as easily as he does in the  studio, Jaleel is currently prototyping his 'Rig", a studio on wheels so-to-speak.

As a means of taking control of the light outdoors as easily as he does in the studio, Jaleel is currently prototyping his ‘Rig”, a studio on wheels so-to-speak. © Jaleel King

“With help from local camera shops, we came up with this Frankenstein contraption that I could attach to my wheelchair. It’s a Manfrotto boom stand with the legs taken off that is attached to my wheelchair with about 4 super clamps and a magic arm. For lighting I was using an AlienBees B1600 with a FlexTT5 Transceiver and an AC9 AlienBees Adapter.  I used an AC3 ZoneController to control the power output from my MiniTT1 Transmitter.  I used a Vagabond Mini to power my strobe.”

The RIG is a work in progress and Jaleel is in the midst of tweaking details having to do with weight distribution and not having enough surface area on the wheelchair to keep it from shifting as he moves about. These are minor issues he hopes to iron out soon and there’s little doubt
he will. Now if only he could figure out how to avoid getting the boom arm stuck in low-hanging branches life would be sweet.


To see more of Jaleel King’s work and/or contact him go to his Facebook page, his website, or email him at

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Jaleel King, 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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Walter Van Dusen Gets Ready for Hannah’s Big Day

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 10.58.47 PMThe contact page of Walter van Dusen’s website features a picture of his daughter with a caption that reads “Every wedding that I photograph is preparing for my daughter Hannah’s wedding. That’s how important your wedding is to me”. And he means it. Some photographers approach weddings as cookie-cutter catalog work. New England-based Walter van Dusen approaches weddings with a passion.

With 20 years as a correction officer under his belt, Walter has the steely nerves required to deal with the heightened emotions and meltdowns that often go hand-in-hand with wedding days. Careful to avoid repetitive grip and grin-ish wedding photography, van Dusen makes a conscious effort to spend up-front time in order to get to know the soon-to-be-married couple, and sometimes their families and significant others in their lives.

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 10.58.52 PM (more…)

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HyperSync and the Classic Norton

Dave Schmidt has shared his passion for Norton bikes in the past. Here’s his account of his latest shoot with a Norton motorcycle utilizing HyperSync® technology.

Take One, no flash F/4 1/1000, ISO 100. ©David Schmidt

Take One, no flash, F/4, 1/1000, ISO 100. ©David Schmidt

Personal Experience
We never seem to have enough time to shoot around here but testing the new firmware was a good excuse to take some pictures. It worked out well as our friends at the Classic Bike Experience had a beautifully restored ’69 Norton Commando they wanted some pictures of and dropped it off at our studio for a few days. (We photographed another Commando in 2011 and wrote about it here). Click here for a Behind-the-Scenes look at the shoot.


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PocketWizard Major ControlTL Firmware Update

Free update provides compatibility with several new cameras and dramatic improvements to HyperSync®, further removing the barrier to x-sync limitations. 

So. Burlington, VT – June 12, 2013 – LPA Design, manufacturers of PocketWizard Photo Products, the world leader in wireless control of cameras, flash lighting and light meters, announces today a major update to its ControlTL firmware for the MiniTT1®FlexTT5®PowerMC2 and PowerST4 radios and minor updates for the Plus® III and MultiMAX® radios.

The new ControlTL firmware (version details below) provides compatibility for several new Canon and Nikon cameras, greatly improves the performance of PocketWizard’s exclusive HyperSync feature and resolves bugs in previous versions. It is available now as a free download using the PocketWizard Utility and it is strongly recommended that all current owners of the MiniTT1, FlexTT5, PowerST4 and PowerMC2 update all their radios to the latest firmware for best performance. Any current owner of the ControlTL system can easily install this version via USB connection and update their PocketWizard radios for free. Complete details are available at the PocketWizard site here.

The new firmware includes complete compatibility for the Nikon D600 and D3200 cameras and manual power control compatibility for the Canon EOS 6D, EOS-1D X and EOS Rebel T4i cameras.


In addition to the new camera compatibility, this new firmware version offers significantly improved HyperSync flash performance. This exclusive feature offers photographers the ability to use studio flash well beyond their camera’s normal x-sync speed, for greatly expanded creative control.


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ControlTL Firmware Update for Canon 5D Mark III Released

PocketWizard® Photo Products Announces ControlTL® Firmware Update for Canon EOS 5D Mark III. The update provides compatibility for Canon version MiniTT1® and FlexTT5® radios with the Canon 5D Mark III digital SLR camera. The following is the official press release.

Flex TT5 Mini TT1So. Burlington, VT – December 19, 2012 – LPA Design, manufacturers of PocketWizard Photo Products, the world leader in wireless control of cameras, flash lighting and light meters, announces today a new update to its ControlTL firmware for Canon versions of its MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 radios. Available now, firmware version 6.200 for Canon includes compatibility with the Canon 5D Mark III digital SLR camera. Any current owner of the ControlTL system can easily install this version via USB connection and update for free using the PocketWizard Utility. PocketWizard Utility version 1.54 or later is required before installing this update.

“This latest release of ControlTL firmware further strengthens PocketWizard’s compatibility with the Canon brand of digital cameras and flashes,” said Dave Schmidt, Vice President of Marketing at LPA Design, the company that manufacturers PocketWizard Photo Products. “Our engineers worked tirelessly to make this update available to our customers that use the Canon 5D Mark III camera. Our goal is to provide photographers with frequent important upgrades such as this because it allows owners of PocketWizard radios to stay current as new cameras and flash units are introduced.”

Compatibility for the Canon EOS-1D X is not available at this time, but firmware for this camera should be available in the near future. Learn more about our firmware development plan.

Visit the PocketWizard download page for more information on how to update PocketWizard products via USB connection.

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Olivier Allamand’s BMX Warehouse Shoot

Olivier Allamand - BMX

© 2012 Olivier Allamand

Olivier Allamand won a silver medal skiing in the 1992 Winter Olympics. When he photographs sports, he’s photographing what he knows. His images of BMX riders are both powerful and delicate at once, using a lighting style often found in photographs of dancers. The effect, as you can see, is pretty awesome. His account of a recent shoot follows.


On this shoot, I photographed Jeremy Brosset, one of the best flat BMX riders in France. For the location, I looked for an abandoned factory in order to create a moody atmosphere.


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Using Sekonic’s New RT-32CTL Transmitter with PocketWizard ControlTL® System

Hosted by Mark Wallace, this live Webinar will explore and explain using Sekonic’s new RT-32CTL transmitter with the PocketWizard ControlTL System.

Please note:
This Webinar has been archived and can now be found here.

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PocketWizard Launches Major ControlTL Firmware Update

PocketWizard users are responding more and more to using off-camera flash at incredible shutter speeds — speeds photographers have been dreaming about since the dawn of flash photography itself. From stopping powdered snow surrounding a professional snowboarder to freezing water droplets as a diver enters a pool, shooters around the world are exploring new worlds of creativity with PocketWizard’s HyperSync technology.

In the recent past, the PocketWizard blog has showcased photographers like Tom Bol, Dave Black, and Chris O’Connell, all of whom are exploiting HyperSync to get shots impossible with any other system.

©Dave Black


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