The inspiration for this photo came from a great picture that Joe McNally took of a NY Fire Truck (Joe later told me he was pleased he wasn’t on the road when I drove by firing
Strobes in my face!)
Big thanks to Jay Millar from Ensofoto in Australia, who shared the result of a personal project involving suction cups, flash, some PocketWizards, a camera and a moving car. We dig.
I think this is a good example of PocketWizards “making the impossible possible.” This isn’t the only way to take such a photo, but using Pocket Wizards gave me confidence that everything would come together as planned.
To take this photo, I borrowed a Manfrotto suction cup (thanks Darren!) and attached that to the car. I mounted a Nikon D3 to this, added a 14-24 f/2.8 lens and lined things up in situ. Next I attached a PocketWizard under the camera and configured this to fire the camera on demand. I set this PockeWizard to Channel 1. Another PocketWizard was mounted on the camera hotshoe, this one was set to Channel 2 and would send a signal at the close of the exposure to the in-car flashes.
I put a Nikon SB800 on the dash, added a 1/4 blue gel, and connected a PocketWizard set to Channel 2. After some test exposures I shaped some cinefoil as a snoot to keep as much light as possible off the back of the steering wheel, as initially it was lighting it up in a way that drew too much attention to it. On the back seats, two SB800’s with a full cut of CTO gel on each, these flashes were aimed in a sort of cross-over pattern. By now I had run out of PocketWizards so these flashes were set to SU-4 mode so that the optical slaves would trigger them as the SB800 on the dash fired.
Last but not least, I held a Pocket Wizard in my hand – set to Channel 1 – and activated the camera as I drove.
Tripping my PocketWizard fired the camera on Channel 1, and the camera rear sync activated the hot-shoe mounted PocketWizard set to Channel 2 to fire the in-car flash – which in turn sent the slaved flashes on the back seat into operation. One camera, three flashes, and four PocketWizards (could have done with six PW’s, but the optical slave worked given everything was in close proximity and the ambient was low)
The SB800 on the dash was set to 1/64th and minus 2/3 power, and the back seat ones were both set to 1/32nd power. Exposure (after a little trial and error) was f/8 at 1/8th of a second (to get motion blur) and ISO 400. Driving through a tunnel in Sydney provided great ambient light for the relatively slow exposure, the overhead fluorescent battens seemingly joining together to make the light streaks.
The inspiration for this photo came from a great picture that Joe McNally took of a NY Fire Truck (Joe later told me he was pleased he wasn’t on the road when I drove by firing Strobes in my face!)
— Jay Millar
Thanks, Jay! If you’d like to read more, drop by Jay’s Flickr and join the conversation. Also be sure to drop by his main website at ensofoto.com and check out the rest of his work. Do you have a photo and a story you want to share? Shout it out – drop us a line at email@example.com.