Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Ultimate Bike Selfie

We recently saw an amazing picture of a rider on a mountain bike trail in the UK. The photo was a selfie taken by the rider, James Vincent. He used a remote camera set up that was enabled by PocketWizard. I reached out to James to see if he could share how he set it up. 

The Bike Selfie – Born of Necessity

As well as getting paid to take photos of other mountain bikers, I spend a lot of my time testing bikes and kits for Singletrack Magazine and it’s pretty unfair to ask your riding buddies with regular jobs to sacrifice their precious weekend rides to muck around taking photos of various test kits. My need to take bike selfies is born out of necessity rather than some vain egotistical desire, or at least that’s what I tell myself anyway.

Don’t Use Cheap Triggers (You Might Crash)

This is actually the second remote trigger setup I’ve developed. Initially, I tried using cheap triggers, but they weren’t latching, and when you’re dropping in to a steep chute or jump, the last thing you want to be thinking about is moving your thumb to an awkward position and pressing a button repeatedly to get the shot.

Use the Right PocketWizard Cable

PocketWizard BT1/BT3 Cable

Fortunately, the PocketWizard Plus III has an input for an external trigger cable and using a button trigger cable (BT1 or BT3) with a little bit of tape to lock it “on”, I could send a continuous signal to the receiver unit that’s hooked up to the camera so that I was free to focus on riding the section cleanly.

The Selfie Set-up

You will need 2 PocketWizard radios set to the same channel. Put one on your camera and mount the other on your bike. Pop your camera on your trusty tripod of choice and frame the shot, then set your focus on the feature before switching the camera to manual focus mode (the last thing you’ll want after all this is to miss focus). Get in place and when you are ready, press the remote trigger, lock it down with the tape, and get your hands back to a comfortable position just before you drop into the feature. Once you hit the jump and clear the section, remove the tape.  Simples.

Use Relay Mode to Pop a Flash in your Selfie

Want to pop a flash? You will need a third PocketWizard radio attached to your flash with a flash sync cable. This Channel needs to be set 1 Channel higher than the other 2 radios in order to work. This is called Relay Mode.

PocketWizard Cable Inspiration

Inspired?  Our Button Trigger cable is just one of the specialty cables we offer to help you pull off your own epic selfie.

3 Tips to Improve your Sports Photography

Spring sports are in full swing!  We asked our friend and sports photographer Robert Hanashiro to share some of his tips for capturing that epic shot – you know the kind…not just capturing peak action, but the spirit of the game. We hope you enjoy this guest blog by Robert, and if these three tips get you hungry for more, check out the Sports Shooter Academy that is happening next week in California.  

Sports Photography by Guest Blogger: Robert Hanashiro 

I admit it. I am a big fan of NCIS. The long-running series about a Naval criminal investigation team revolves around former Marine “gunny” Leroy Jethro Gibbs, a steely-eyed no-nonsense team leader played by Mark Harmon.

As any fan of the show knows, Gibbs has a list of 36 rules that not only influence the lives of him and his team but are also life lessons unto themselves.

I hold a sports photography workshop in Southern California where we take students, working photographers and aspiring sports shooters to cover various events. Sports like college baseball, football, track & field, water polo, soccer and basketball, mixed in with horse racing, surfing, boxing and beach volleyball make up the Sports Shooter Academy schedule.

So in the spirit of “Gibb’s List” here are Bert Hanashiro’s Top Three Sports Shooting Tips:

1) Shoot Through The Play (and Don’t Chimp)

Just because the base runner has been tagged out at home plate or a receiver has made an acrobatic catch doesn’t mean the action is over or a cool moment won’t happen. One of the most aggravating things I see when I am out covering a sports assignment is seeing photographers habitually looking at the screen on the back of their camera an instant after a play. “Chimping” — looking at the LCD screen — is a disease that needs a cure. Maybe a slap on the back of the head like Gibbs does when one of his team screws up?

We all want that instant gratification of seeing a remarkable play we captured— or what we think is a remarkable play. Digital cameras are remarkable tools. But constantly looking at the LCD screen serves no real purpose other than take your eye and concentration away from the game. That remarkable image you captured ain’t going anywhere. So, stay focused on covering that game, you can look at it when there is a break in the action, during a timeout or when the game is over.

2) Clean Up Those Crappy Backgrounds

Camera auto-focus is so good these days that anyone that can afford to buy the latest, greatest camera and telephoto lens can make claim to be a “sports shooter.” But just because that running back or point guard is tack sharp does not make you a real Sports Shooter. One of the telltale signs of someone who is, what I call a “camera pointer” rather than a photographer, is cluttered, distracting, messy backgrounds.

Using telephoto lenses with a wide-open aperture to limit the depth of field is one way to clean up those crappy backgrounds. Another is to look for an elevated spot to shoot from. This serves three purposes. First, it moves the distracting background out of your angle of view, so the field essentially becomes your background. The second cool thing about shooting from a high vantage point is that it gives you a different and often unique look at the game. The third thing is the light is different from above and you can use shadows creatively.

3) Use A Remote Camera to Give the Viewer a Different Perspective

Rigging a remote camera can accomplish a couple of things, the most important is giving your viewer a unique, different look at the sports you’re covering. You can place a remote camera in places that you cannot stand while covering a game, or place it in a spot that gives you an unique angle. The other purpose a remote camera gives a Sports Shooter is providing an alternative angle. For instance, if you’re covering a basketball game, you can use a remote camera on the opposite side of the court so you can literally be in two places at one time.

There are several caveats using remote cameras and the foremost is safety. With all aspects of sports photography, “safety first” is always #1. Be very careful where you rig your camera, make sure your camera is away from players, referees, fans, popcorn vendors, and others that potentially could bumping into it. If you are rigging a camera high, use safety cables for both the lens and camera body. If you’re in an unfamiliar venue, check with the management about any rules they have concerning remote cameras.

After you’ve rigged your remote, ask for help to pre-focus your lens by getting a stand-in. I cannot tell you how many remote photos I’ve lost because I wasn’t as careful to pre-focus as I should have been. And always, always, always, get to the game early, even more so if you are planning on rigging a remote. Of course the best method to trigger your remote camera is a radio transceiver made by PocketWizard. (Note: I am not being paid by PocketWizard to mention their products or to write this post!) I have been using PocketWizard radios with great success for about 30 years at some of the biggest events (Olympic Games, NBA Finals, NCAA Tournament, World Series, NHL Stanley Cup) to the smallest (youth league sports).

Thanks Robert for the great tips! If you’re inspired to learn more, it’s not too late to register for next week’s event, but hurry, there are only a couple of slots open. If next week is not in the cards for you, look for their future academies and start planning now!

Shooting the Upcoming Total Lunar Eclipse

The photographers that work for PocketWizard can’t wait to photograph the upcoming lunar eclipse called the Super Wolf Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse. Depending on where you live, it will start on the evening of Sunday, January 20, 2019 and for others, in the early morning of January 21. To check when the eclipse will be happening for you, check out the Time and Date site here.

In preparation, we wanted to share with you our tips and equipment along with some of our favorite links to help you  successfully capture this celestial event.

Plan

Make sure to choose your location wisely. We like to use the scouting app Photopills when looking for the best locations to shoot. They even wrote a guide for the lunar eclipse that you can read here.

Once you know where you will shoot, check the weather to make sure you’re prepared. You don’t want to be out in the cold without a hat or in the rain with no chance of seeing the moon.

Equipment

An iPhone isn’t going to cut it when trying to shoot the moon. For this shoot you’re going to need a DLSR or mirrorless camera. A tripod will also be necessary to make sure your camera is stable as possible.

To further reduce camera shake you will want to use a trigger release. Our favorite is using two PocketWizard Plus III radios. One radio goes on your camera’s hot shoe and connected to the camera with a remote camera cable. The camera is triggered by pressing the “Test” button on the 2nd radio you hold in your hand. This setup will allow you to trigger several cameras at once or even from your warm living room or car while your camera braves the cold.

Try a Time-Lapse

You can also consider a time-lapse. Check out this tutorial on PhotographyLife.com which as some amazing examples.

For this you will need to use a MultiMAX II with intervalometer with a remote camera cable. This will allow you to shoot the whole event in a sequence and then stitch it together in photoshop later. This is a  great option if you are trying to highlight the landscape as well as the moon. For information on how to set up the MultiMAX II, check out the user guide, page 35.

Camera Settings

We suggest you shoot in Manual mode and keep your aperture around F/8 and your shutter speed at 1/250 to freeze the movement of the full moon. You might be surprised as how fast it is moving. Try and keep your ISO as low as it can go and increase as needed. Check your images and adjust your settings accordingly. Visit our friends at B&H for a great tutorial on photographing a lunar eclipse with an in-depth discussion on settings.

Get creative! The eclipse will last a relatively long time. Using a PocketWizard and off camera flash, try a pop of light in the foreground to capture some foreground elements or to capture a rim lit silhouette. Follow this link to earlier blog for inspiration.

Get some good shots? Share them on Instagram and tag us! @PocketWizard.  We can’t wait to see your creative approach!

Basic Troubleshooting Techniques – Plus Series

PocketWizard radios have a well earned-reputation for being the most reliable, feature-packed and easy-to-use solution for remote flash and camera triggering.  And, our triggering distance is legendary. In ideal conditions, our Plus III can work up to a distance of 1600 feet (500m) – that’s a distance of over 4 football fields!

While they are incredibly reliable, we know that sometimes things don’t go as planned. Here’s a video that will help you with some basic troubleshooting techniques.

If you need a little more help than this video can provide, our support team is available to help from 9AM – 4PM EST, Monday – Friday. You can reach our experts at info@pocketwizard.com.

This video covers basic troubleshooting for PocketWizard Plus II, Plus III, Plus IV, PlusX, and MultiMAX radios.

Some helpful timestamps and links:
0:43: Batteries

1:22: Hotshoe
Older Plus & MM Hotshoe
PlusX/III Hotshoe

2:00: Firmware

2:16: Factory Reset

2:31: PlusX only transmit mode

2:39: Sync Cable

3:40: Understanding X-Sync and HyperSync

3:10: Testing your Radios

4:21: Guidelines to maximize your performance

Tell us what’s happening!!
Email Tech Support: info@pocketwizard.com

How to Elevate your Ski and Snowboard Photography

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.

Riding at Night in the snow in British Columbia

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/

Inspired? Hit the slopes and tag us!

#PocketWizard     #MakeitPossible

 

 

 

PocketWizard Auto-Relay

Selfies Using Remote DSLR Camera and Remote Flash

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

PocketWizard Sales and Support Team

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.

  1. We set the transmitting PocketWizard Plus III radio in our hand to Tx only and set it to a desired Channel and Zone.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. To capture the best city lights, we used a somewhat slower shutter speed to let in as much of the ambient light as possible.

Settings:
ISO 1250
Aperture: F4.0
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.

Try it and tag us with #pocketwizardselfie!