If you are like many photographers, you’ve invested a lot of
money in your equipment, including a speedlight. Have you become friends with it
yet? If not, we challenge you to get to know your speedlight a little better
Check out this great example of the same portrait taken outside without flash, and then with a flash by photographer Fred Pompermayer. Without the pop of flash, he would have missed this beautiful shot.
Yes – natural light is wonderful! But it isn’t always where we want it and you can’t control its location or its strength. By using the controls on your flash, you can adjust the strength and by getting your flash off your camera, you can control its location.
To start using off-camera flash, get yourself 2 PocketWizards to radio control your flash wirelessly. One goes on your camera, and the second connected to your speedlight.
Set your exposure on your camera to get the background perfectly exposed – then add your flash and adjust as necessary. By getting the exposure just right in camera, you will save yourself tons of time in post. No more bumping up the shadows and living with grainy photos.
Try adding a pop of flash to your portraits and tag us – #pocketwizard – we’d love to feature your masterpiece on our Instagram feed. The more you use it, the more you will like it – it’s like having a little sunshine in your pocket.
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.
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.
So you’ve invested in a Speedlight, but you’re disappointed in your photos. Do they look something like this?
The child is adorable – but we hate that shadow. And his face is pretty flat and one dimensional.
Try taking the flash off your camera. In this next example, we used a single Speedlight and we set it to TTL. We used a MiniTT1 on our camera and a FlexTT5 on our Speedlight. The flash was simply held to the right of our subject. Our camera was at f3.2 and we used aperture priority.
This portrait definitely has more dimension! Half of his face is well lit and the other half has a few shadows. In addition to adding some dimension, it adds a little bit of drama which is perfect for this pose.
In this last example, we added another Speedlight to the left with another FlexTT5.
This technique to make a silhouette pop is easy with PocketWizard and your speedlight.
The best time to take a shot like this is either at dawn or dusk, when the light is low but you can still see some environmental details.
These shots were taken at the beautiful Shelburne Farms in Vermont, just a few miles down the road from the PocketWizard headquarters. The moon was nearly full and rising just after sundown so there was still a bit of ambient light.
I placed my light about 6 feet in front of my subjects. In this example, I used a speedlight mounted on a PocketWizard FlexTT5 which was then mounted on a light stand. There is screw mount built right into the PocketWizard radio to make that easy. If you don’t have a light stand, you could put it on the ground or even have your subject hold it. A second FlexTT5 was mounted on my camera’s hot shoe. We set the camera settings to perfectly expose the dark scene without over-exposing the full moon. After some tests, I decided on the following settings:
• ISO: 500
• Aperture: F4
• Exposure Time: 1/200
My advice – take lots of shots, experiment, and have fun! My subjects were thrilled with the results!!