Can you say fast, rugged, reliable and affordable! That’s just a quick summary for the new LumoPro LP 180 Quad-sync manual flash. Many of you already know, I’ve been a LumoPro LP 160 fanboy for some time now. Those flashes always serve me well and I love the simplicity. My only gripe was their build quality seemed a little cheap. Well, move over LP 160. The LP 180 is built like a tank! Totally redesigned and rugged. First impressions mean a lot and this thing really feels solid.Read More »
As much as I loved my Fuji X100, the X100s is that much better and is quite possibly the best camera I own. Fast, responsive, amazing color, tack sharp, great handling, spectacular low-light capabilities, flash sync to 1/4000 sec, all in one amazing little package. As most of you know, I’ve been an X100 fanboy for some time. It’s been my go-to camera for everything from portraits, to streetshots and a lot in between. It was always with me and now it’s been replaced! As great as the X100 was, the X100s is just that much better. Every gripe that I had with the X100 has been addressed with the X100s. It’s nimble and quick. Okay, not Nikon DSLR quick, but so much quicker and more responsive. The focus is fast and tack sharp. This was a huge problem with the X100. Many people were turned off with the slow and quirky focus, but Fuji nailed it with the X100s. Close focusing. I can now focus within 18 inches of my subject!!! This may be the single best feature of the camera for me! The X100 was cool for portraits – so long as you were at it’s minimum focus distance of 2.6 feet. Not quite ideal for portraits with a fixed 35mm equivalent lens.Read More »
Lighting tools are essential to controlling your light source. I love lighting modifiers and with my strobes, I always seem to use an Octa Box as well as a beauty dish. With a studio strobe, you have a lot of power to use an Octa Box as they typically are large modifiers, however I recently picked up a brilliant lighting modifier that I can see replacing my convertible umbrella for editorial portraits and beyond.
I shoot a lot of portraits and often do editorial portraits around New York City. When I travel to these shoots, I’m flying solo with a minimal amount of gear and typically on the subway. Anyone who’s been to NYC knows that the subways are totally jammed and that there’s a ton of stairs and walking involved in getting around town. As versatile as a convertible umbrella may be, it’s a pretty large and long object to be carrying around hanging out of a backpack.Read More »
PocketWizard released their new affordable and simple to use PlusX! So easy to setup and compatible with all PocketWizard products. If some of you guys were considering getting radio triggers, it looks like the wait is over!Read More »
Today we are in my home studio shooting portraits. I chose this setup because not everyone has access to a studio and wanted to show you guys that you can get killer shots virtually anywhere. In this video, I’ll demonstrate a basic one-light home-studio portrait session utilizing some very simple lighting tools and techniques.
In this setup, I volunteered to be the model and thus ended up with some self-portraits. I used a cable release to fire my camera that was mounted on a tripod. For my background, I used a 40″ bounce with the black side. I wanted something edgy and knew I was going to go black and white with my images and wanted to background to disappear. For lighting, I used a Nikon SB800 speedlite firing into a Chimera Octa Beauty. The Octa Beauty is a killer modifier. It’s a 24″ Octabox AND Beauty Dish all-in-one ! ! ! Great quality to the light and sweet catch lights. I triggered the flash with Pocketwizard Plus IIIs. I find them to be incredibly reliable and easy to use.Read More »
There are many ways to trigger an off-camera flash so lets start with the very basics. Getting the flash off your camera gives you much greater control of your light and far more freedom to be creative. There are four basic ways to trigger your off-camera flash. Optical sync, where you trigger the flash with another flash, PC Sync, where you trigger the flash with a PC Sync cable that attaches to your camera and to the flash, Infrared, where you are using an infrared signal to communicate between your camera and your flash, and, Radio, where you use radio triggers to sync your flash. All of these methods work and offer different challenges, pros and cons. The most basic and least expensive may be optical sync, provided you have a built-in flash on your camera.
In this video, I set my Fuji X100′s built-in flash to commander mode. I used commander mode, because when triggering optically, I don’t want the built-in flash to greatly affect the flash exposure. Thus, producing a pulse of light adequate to trigger the flash, but not too much so that it will mix with the flash exposure from the off-camera flash.
Optical Sync Pros:
- Low cost triggering system (provided you have a built-in flash)
- You can optically trigger as many lights as you want so long as they all see the master flash.
- Easy. Not much to know other than the basics.
- Effective. It works.
Optical System Cons:
- Limitation of proximity. Your off-camera flash needs to see the flash your camera produces.
- Not recommended in bright sun. If you can see that bright light, so can your flash.
- Other flashes will trigger your flash! So not recommended for events or parties.
Ideal for a controlled environment, shooting portraits, product etc.
Some other thoughts. There are times when you may want your built-in flash to produce more power in order to act as a fill. Why not? It’s another light and may help to get you the look you need for your exposure. I do recommend that when you are using this technique, that you get your main or Key light dialed in before you decide to add power to the built-in flash for your exposure. This way, you are making a choice on how you want your light shaped and not fighting the two lights to make them work. Sounds complicated, well, it is. Lots to consider. So, for the time being, try simply optically syncing your off-camera flash. See how it goes. Experiment with placement, flash-to-subject distance, flash power. Have fun and be creative!
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Jared and I have been working on a beginner flash guide and will be bringing it to you soon. In the meantime, check out this video I made with tips on shooting an editorial portrait after a recent shoot I did with the chef concierge at New York City’s prestigious Pierre Hotel for Eater.com.
I love shooting editorial portraits. There’s so many variables and always full of challenges. These shoots can be a bit of an adrenaline rush, so it’s good to stay calm, and be resourceful. Think outside the box and be flexible. If something isn’t working, don’t panic. Try something else. Come up with 3 – 5 ideas before you begin shooting. At least one of those is going to work, and may even lead to something else that’s even better.Read More »
In today’s video I discuss how shutter speed directly affects ambient light when using flash. I use photos I shot with my Fuji X100 and show you what happens when you change your shutter speed by just 2 stops, the ambient light gets crushed and the difference is almost night and day. Literally. The scene goes from a nice balanced ambient look to a dramatic look that almost looks like a different time of day. Aperture, ISO and Flash Power remain the same, but by changing the shutter speed, the ambient changes. Interestingly, the exposure is only affected in areas where ambient light and of flash spill off would be in that the flash power on the model and product remain constant. This is a nice nugget to keep in your tool belt in that you can offer a variety of different looks with your images simply by making minor tweaks to your shutter speed.
The Fuji X100 has an interesting advantage over a conventional DLSR in that it’s got a leaf shutter system that allows for high speed sync up to 1/4000th of a second, natively.
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Setting up a home studio can present a challenge especially if your space is limited like my Brooklyn, New York loft. However, that doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker and there are ways you can work with what you’ve got in order to get the shot.
I set up a seamless backdrop with a 5′ Octa as my key and basic hi-key setup on the backdrop with cross lighting from 2 additional strobes. To get a little more kick/fill for the face I set up a Lumopro LP160 perpendicular to the ground facing a 40″ white bounce on a low power setting to get a soft wash of light.Read More »