This blog post was originally shared
over 5 years ago and yet the story is timeless: Photographer fulfills his artistic
vision while meeting the needs of his client by leveraging the power of
The Big Opportunity!
Alexis Cuarezma is a portrait photographer with a specialty in photographing sports figures. One of his big breaks was when he was asked to photograph an athlete, Shayne Skov, for Sports Illustrated. His assignment: keep it simple on a plain gray background. However, simple is not Cuarezma’s style and who knew when he’d have the opportunity to shoot for SI again? He knew he needed to fulfill the simple assignment, but it was also a great opportunity to showcase his artistry.
PocketWizard to the Rescue
A feature of the MultiMAX II is SpeedCycler which makes it possible to set up multiple lighting scenarios and cycle through them with each click of the shutter. Although SpeedCycler was originally designed for sports photographers and others who needed continuous drive but whose lights couldn’t recycle fast enough, Cuarezma tasked SpeedCycler for something a little more creative.
One Pose, Two Shots, Two Dramatically Different Looks
Using PocketWizard’s unique SpeedCycler functionality, Cuarezma captured two separate exposures in milliseconds – one exposure lit using his dramatic style with colored gels immediately followed by a second exposure per his instructions – simple on a gray background.
The Dream Come True
Cuarezma’s style was well received. He took a chance and turned a simple portrait assignment into a creative, dramatic, and dynamic photo shoot. His “outside the box” thinking ended up with a double-page spread in Sports Illustrated – a dream come true.
Check out Behind the Scenes
Alexis created the behind the scenes video of the shoot – check it out!
To see more of Alexis Cuarezma’s work, check out his website.
Let’s face it – in a world where everyone has a camera in their pocket, it isn’t easy to get your photos to stand out. Especially when you are photographing a popular landmark!
We Took the Creative Challenge
Two of us from the PocketWizard team wanted to take a photo of the Vessel, a popular new structure in the Hudson Yards area of New York City. We really wanted to make it pop and do something that no one else had done. Here are some results and our 3 tips that might help you make a photo that truly stands out.
Tip #1: Take Advantage of Available Light and Adapt When Light Changes
We worked all day at Photo Plus Expo and managed to make our way to the Vessel around sunset. This was great timing – it isn’t called the “Golden Hour” for nothing! We were hoping to arrive in time to take advantage of that great natural light, however, as luck would have it, we couldn’t get on the structure until after sunset. We had to be flexible and turn our attention to the available light coming from the cityscape.
Tip #2: Augment Natural Light with Flash to Call Attention to Your Subject
Sometimes it helps to visualize your image before you take it. Knowing that the eye will normally gravitate to the brightest spot of your photo can help you compose the best image. We wanted to highlight the geometric angles of the Vessel, but the available light wasn’t enough. One of us hand-held a flash near the top floor of the Vessel and the other triggered that flash remotely from the ground -using PocketWizards of course! We were able to highlight a specific area of the Vessel and bathe it in bright light.
Set the exposure in your camera for the ambient light and then try adding a pop of flash. Adjust your settings as necessary.
See the two pictures below, the first uses just available light and the second adds a pop of flash to the upper left corner. Your eye is naturally drawn to that area, and the light adds dimension and interest.
Tip #3: Change Your Perspective
Walk around your subject and explore different angles and distances. Try a shot at ground level, vertical versus horizontal, wide versus cropped – be creative! The more you can move around, the more interesting perspectives you will find.
We love the look you can get when you get far from your subject and then use a telephoto lens. It compresses the image making the background appear much closer than it really is.
The E Release Can Help Your Images Stand Out
We created these images using PocketWizard Plus III radios that were upgraded with the E Release, our new firmware that dramatically improves the triggering distance of your PocketWizard radios. This enabled us to try many different perspectives and ultimately get the look we were going for by allowing us to create a lot of distance between the camera and our flash – almost a quarter of a mile! We think the end result is an image that really pops and stands out from the rest.
Try the E Release Today and Expand the Possibilities of Your Creativity
The new E Release firmware upgrade is a simple way to get incredible range for off-camera flash and remote cameras. The extended range in regular mode is up to 5 times further than our legacy firmware. Sarah wanted to put it to the test by taking an epic family photo in front of a rising full moon. In this case, she wanted to be far away so that she could use a long zoom and she needed a flash to light the family at twilight. A zoom gave her the compression she wanted for the full moon appear closer and larger. PocketWizard Plus IIIs upgraded with the E Release gave her the power to trigger two speedlights from a distance.
PocketWizard Made the Distant Triggering Possible
The speedlights were triggered from a distance of about 2300 feet (700 meters). It is also worth noting that the distance was spread over water and with an elevation rise – both of which are notoriously challenging for any radio triggers. That is, any radio trigger other than PocketWizard!
Behind the Scenes Video with the E Release
Press play to watch this video to see how this photo was taken.
Have a way to communicate with your subject(s). In this case, Sarah was so far away that the family could barely see her and they felt like they were posing for no one. They also could not see the moon and needed to know where to stand and when to smile.
Train your subject(s) on how to set up and test your flash and radios. Send them with spare batteries just in case.
Use technology to help you plan. Sarah used an app called PhotoPills to help her plan when and where the moon would rise.
These photos were taken in TxRx Mode – Sarah did not need to use Long Range Mode (LR) to get this distance. When using LR with a flash, you may lose a stop or two of sync speed. Sarah was using a 200-500mm lens on a canoe – she didn’t want to reduce her shutter speed any more than necessary – and she didn’t need to!
Be creative – the E Release opens a world of opportunity!
Tag us! #whypocketwizard
Explore the Possibilities!
With PocketWizard, we can help you Make it Possible!
Shoot this Look
3 PocketWizard Plus III Upgraded with the E Release:
Plus IIIe on the camera
2 Plus IIIes attached to speedlights with a flash sync cord mounted on light stands
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Introducing the E Release! The E Release is a firmware upgrade for select PocketWizard radios that improve their reliability, range, and performance. Basically, everything that PocketWizard does best, made even better.
When we needed someone to test our E Release firmware upgrade, we thought immediately of local photographer Michael Heeney. We love his outdoor adventure photography and we wanted to see what he could do to push the limits of our E Release in challenging environments. He did not disappoint.
Challenging the PocketWizard E Release
by Michael Heeney
Vermont is my home and it suits my outdoor lifestyle. When I’m not working in my studio, I enjoy rock climbing, ice climbing, biking, canoeing, and basically any activity where I can be outside.
I’ve used PocketWizard radios for my whole career. They are always on my camera. I use them in my studio to trigger my lights and I also use them when I’m shooting outdoors to trigger remote cameras and remote flashes. They are very versatile and they are always in my bag.
When You Only Get One Chance, Use PocketWizard
When I’m shooting outdoor adventure photography, I
usually only get one chance to capture the moment. That’s one reason I choose PocketWizard
as my trigger. I know that once I set it, I can rely on it. When I’m using remote
cameras to capture multiple angles, I need to trust that they will fire because
I don’t have time to check on them.
When PocketWizard told me about the E Release, a firmware upgrade for my PocketWizard radios to allow them to trigger from even further distances, even in difficult environments, I told them about a project I wanted to do. We all agreed that it was a perfect opportunity to challenge the upgrade.
A new rock-climbing area called Lone Rock Point recently
opened up here in Burlington and my friend Tim Heaghney was working on an unclimbed
route there. Once I heard that, I knew I had to document it.
The spot is gorgeous and gets beautiful light around the golden hour. The golden hour is short, and I knew that the climb was tough so I couldn’t ask Tim to try it again and again. I needed to get it right the first time.
The Set Up – Multiple Cameras for Multiple Angles
Main camera with me above Tim showing him climb
Remote camera mounted on the rock wall showing the action at a tight angle
Remote camera at the base of the rock wall showing Tim from the bottom
Remote camera on an island which was at a distance to show a wide angle of the entire scene to really give a sense of place.
It was the camera on the island that I knew was going to
be the most challenging. Not only did I have to swim to get it in place, but I
had to set it up hours before Tim even showed up. And to top it all off, it was
several hundred feet from where I was going to be with my main camera.
If you have ever worked with radio triggers, you probably know that getting them to fire over water or in environments like Lone Rock Point with rocks and other obstacles can be a challenge. (PocketWizard note: water usually dramatically limits radio transmission.) Using the PocketWizard E Release, I was able to capture four perspectives with one click of my shutter. I didn’t miss a shot.
My Gear is my Lifeline
When I’m climbing, I rely on my equipment to do its job and keep me safe – it’s my lifeline. Same with my camera gear. During a shoot, I can’t be thinking about the gear, I need to be focused on my subject and getting the shot. That’s why I choose PocketWizard. It’s the most reliable trigger I have ever used and now with the E Release, it’s more reliable than ever.
Check out the Video of the Shoot!
About Michael Heeney
his B.A. degree in 2002 from the University of Vermont where he studied Studio
Art and Art History. From 2004-2005, he attended The New England School of
Photography in Boston, where he graduated with honors in both Advertising and
Fashion Photography. His client list includes Swarovski Lighting, Comcast,
Burton Snowboards, New York Magazine, Gordini USA, United Way, GX Magazine,
Anichini, Navali, Edible Green Mountains, Gardener’s Supply Co., and
Scarpe di Bianco. When Michael is not working for a client, he enjoys
travel, canoeing, rock climbing, archery, going to the fair, feeding stray
cats, and adventures, big or small. You can check out his work on his
Learn more about the E Release
For more information about our new E Release, a firmware upgrade that delivers significant benefits for photographers including a tremendous triggering distance that is more than double our current range and more than double the number of available channels, check out the E Release Website. The E Release is available now for the PocketWizard Plus III and Plus IV (FCC units only In North and South America).
In July, we celebrated our 29th anniversary! We couldn’t have done it without you – thank you to all our loyal customers and dealers for helping us to achieve this milestone. As we enter our 30th year of doing business, we are looking for ways to evolve as well as delight and inspire our customers.
We don’t make Disposable Products
For the past 29 years, PocketWizard has used the same reliable radio technology and it has served us well. We have a reputation of making quality products that withstand the test of time and offer backwards compatibility. Our users know that if they buy a radio today, it will still work with the radios that they may have purchased 10 or even 15 years ago. Backwards compatibility is important to us because we care about our customers and we care about the environment. We feel good that our products are not ending up in the landfills due to obsolescence. Our radios are not designed to be disposable.
But, We Want New Features AND We Want Backwards Compatibility
Our current technology has limited our ability to make enhancements. We want to add new features and allow photographers to do even more with our radio triggers. But we want to keep backwards compatibility. We want it all.
Can We Have it All?
Stay Tuned for a Big Announcement Next Week!
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