Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I was for the past few years far too busy with Technology and Photography work to keep this blog updated, thats all changing now as I'm going to be posting more about photography and travel photography on the cheap to get photographers out in front of what is interesting (Hint, that is really one of the best ways to get great shots!)

I will be reviewing some products that I find of interest in aiding to make better images without breaking the bank or cluttering up the process. This is particularly important in the travel space where many of us as photographers are faced with the catch-22 of focusing on shooting at the risk of losing focus on whats actually happening. I hope to give some tips and tricks for ways to make good content while not usurping all of ones time while on a travel vacation.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

For those looking for the adapter.  

A quick FYI for anyone looking for the adapter. I'm currently using this with a modified cable soldered into the USB dongle, it makes for a very nice an efficient setup, I'll post some details when I get a chance!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Lastolite Trigrip / Triflip handle fix

I like my Lastolite Trigrip, its a nice diffuser (a bit pricey though, so I only keep a few), very comfortable and well made except for one defect.  I've purchased 2, and my friend 3.  So between the 2 of us we have 5 of them in various sizes but of the 5, 3 of them have had the velcro handle strap detach from the plastic grip.  The strap is held in with a metal pin that is hot glued to the plastic handle.  This seems to fail and the pin detaches,  I don't know where mine went, I just opened it up one day and it was gone.  Now Lastolite will repair it if you send it back in, but I don't have the time or desire to, plus the one I have has some sentimental value as I had Joe McNally sign it when I went to his advanced workshop.  So in looking at it I decided to just field repair mine.  All I needed was a simple zip tie.

As you can see the fabric strap has a loop in it where the metal pin would go, so I just replaced it with a zip tie that I wrapped around in the inside to the handle attaching it around the diffuser frame.

First I pushed the zip tie through to the other open end of the handle.

I next looped it back over so that it now wrapped around the frame of the diffuser.

Next I simply put the strap onto the zip tie and closed it up.

To clean things up I cut the excess from the zip tie off, and then pushed the head of the tie inside where it won't be seen.

And Viola, here it is all done and ready to be used again.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

High Speed sync output tests....

(warning, this is a highly geeky post)
Ever wondered what the light coming out of your Nikon flash looked like output-wise when in Auto-fp High Speed Sync? Here are actual samples as taken with my pocket DSO and a photo-transistor.
I did this to put to rest some conjecture out on the internet. This is a proper method to understand what flash output is doing vs time. We can see output intensity and duration for a given shutter speed.

I tested this using a D90 I had lying around combined with an sb-800 flash set into manual power. I handheld the camera and aimed it towards the photo-transistor that was connected to the scope. The total output could be varying as I was handholding it and readjusting, but the graphs shape and duration are valid.

What the graphs will show are the following.

1) Output is practically continuous as the flash is pulsed for the duration necessary ensure a proper exposure.

2) When additional power is requested in auto-fp, the intensity of the flash is increased.

3) Full frame sensors use short auto-fp durations for the same shutter speed as compared to crop bodies.

Nikon D90, SB-800 1/128 @ 1/200th sec shutter (Clipped output going up, a regular flash pulse is a huge output of light that tapers off)

Nikon D90, SB-800 1/128 @ 1/250th sec shutter

Nikon D90, SB-800 1/128 @ 1/500th sec shutter

Nikon D90, SB-800 1/128 @ 1/1000th sec shutter

Nikon D90, SB-800 1/128 @ 1/2000th sec shutter

Nikon D90, SB-800 1/128 @ 1/4000th sec shutter

Now for a comparison of more power and also a full frame body.

This shows the D90 at 1/128th power and 1/32nd power, it is hard to make out but overall power is increased out. I noticed this when I shot it at full power, but didn't document it with a picture.

The last image shows how the light output waveform is different for the same shutter speed with a different body. I utilized my D700 for this test. In retrospect I should have made a test with my D300s as well to see if the two crop body shutters are different mechanically.

Nikon D90, SB-800 1/128 @ 1/1000th sec shutter

Nikon D90, SB-800 1/32 @ 1/1000th sec shutter

Nikon D700, SB-800 1/128 @ 1/1000th sec shutter (Note shorter duration)

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Penny Office Depot Pencil boxes are back! With a twist this time...

So with the back-to-school sales, Office Depot is selling one penny pencil boxes again (The black ones I posted about last year made great snoots for my sb-600/800's)! Yay! But here is the thing, this year they no longer have black color ones, only bright kiddie type colors. I was bummed when I noticed this, but this year they replaced the black ones with clear ones!

So when you're given lemons, make some lemonade, right? These clear ones make for great quick light diffusers! putting it on just like a snoot it works great for blasting light in all directions, up, left right front back etc! I tested it and it was very effective on my green frog, providing a nice catch light while pushing a lot of light straight up. Noticing this, plus thinking about what to do with the insert part of the pencil box, I cut the end off and put a small piece of aluminum inside to stop light from going straight up. Now the light pushes back down reflecting around more and hopefully diffusing a little better. It greatly controlled upward spill. One could take this even further and make a curved reflector inside the box part so that light would only push out of front and sides, or even just the front.

Here is a shot of it lighting up my froggy test subject.

So for only one cent you can have a nice diffuser that won't look too ghetto, ala the David Hobby soup container. It also won't break the bank and cost as much as a Fong whatchamacallit. Just think of how many of these you could buy for one of his! (btw, limit is 3, so hurry up and grab some while you can!)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hanging out with Joe at Dobbs Ferry...

Joe McNally at Dobbs Ferry

There are very few workshops that I ever get excited about, but when it comes to Joe McNally my ears will perk up. His working career is just amazing to me and a feat that will never be done again as the print industry is gone as we knew it. The previous year Joe had these one day workshops where you hang out and learn while Joe goes through lighting setups, solves problems, and then lets the attendees shoot his lighting solution. A great bargain for the money considering his 15 to 1 ratio, and the fact you get to listen to his colorful stories about hanging out his helicopter or freezing this body part off. I hesitated that year and regretted it.

So this year when the chance came up, I really wanted to make it out there. Then to make it even more appealing Joe created an advanced workshop pushing things further, and quite frankly something more up my alley. The advanced workshop covered high speed sync, multiple exposure, some advanced lighting techniques as well as mixing big and small light. I really wanted to sign up, and when my friend Piotr was able to go it was a done deal!

So what did $500 get us? A great deal in my opinion. We spent well over 8 hours with Joe, chatting with him and admiring his lighting and camera gear and well run team of friendly assistants. We had a great lunch and ample water to keep cool during the day. We also received a nice bag of swag from his sponsor friends! Just the 10 hours listening and watching Joe do his thing was well worth it, everything else just made it priceless.

So we arrived at his old former studio, a great space with tons of character and Lynn greeted us. I'm not usually an autograph nut but I always thought it would be fun to get Joe's not in the typical book format, but on a lastolite trigrip, one of his favorite lighting modifiers. So both myself and Piotr pulled the trigrips out and he graciously signed them for us.

He did mumble a funny comment after signing friend Piotr's, "Just wasted a perfectly good modifier". He asked for him to sign it big and use the whole space. I'm kind of glad Joe said that, it totally fits his character, plus I thought my friend was crazy too!

So we unloaded our gear and Joe did his introduction as well as having us introduce and tell what we were interested in exploring for the day. After that Joe gave a short presentation of some of his work, filled with his colorful back stories to every image.

After that we jumped into the studio and started working light, small light and big light.

Katherine Jumping

Joe in Action

He showed us a few of his favorite techniques, created some problems then solved them.

After lunch we went into a blacked out area for some long exposure action! Joe set up for a multiple exposure 2 frame shot with the beautiful Maria Arce, a model/stunt woman/martial artist/actress etc etc..

Maria Prepping for a double exposure

Maria in Motion

I captured these BTS shots handheld doing very long exposures, 2 to 4 seconds, stealing Joe's main flashes to expose my shot. By doing this I could get somewhat sharp images while having a Camera held up against my body for 4 seconds long.

I tried a similar series using a friend in an Indian Sari during the winter and had many technical issues with it, so when Joe ran into similar problems it was great seeing how he troubleshot things. Eventually he punted on the multiple exposure and went for a single exposure with rear curtain pose.

After we wrapped that up we moved into the last 2 hours, which Joe said was our time. He grouped us into 4 people and sent us out with a model and any lighting we wanted to use. We had two 1 hour sessions, 1 model per hour, and four photographers to taking turns. I was happily suprised that Joe ran things the exact same way I do when I give workshops. He has the same belief that to be a better photographer you need to understand how to properly assist and understand the lighting. Group shooting was a big no-no as well as he said only the photographer should be shooting, and that he'd fire an assistant on the spot if they were shooting between him during a shoot.

We started with Phil, a great former cop with a very character driven face. Super nice guy and very easy to work with. I chose to go the CTO route during my turn and change the mood of the glass roofed room.

Meet Phil

During the next hour we switched to Christina, a great young model with a firecracker spirit. One light in high speed sync for the first shot, then went to a 3 light setup on the lower one. She was great and posing and hard to keep up with how fast she could change her expressions.

Christina W - Emmanuel NY Models

Christina W - Emmanuel NY Models

At the end of our day Joe mentioned there would be a surprise on the rooftop, He told us that anyone that wanted to stay late could join him on the roof while he shot Maria doing jumps in the sunlight while Joe tried to fight back with 6 sb900's and high speed sync. Who wouldn't jump at the chance! So after an interesting tour of the building, Joe took us on the scenic route to get to the roof, we arrived up top where it was broiling hot.

Here are a few shots of what Joe was up too..

Butt kicking jump shots!

Maria in Flight

All in all an incredible day with the master of flashes big and small. The rest of the weekend continued to be exciting as we scheduled a model shoot in the city. But I'll save that for another time...

Thanks so much to Joe and his incredible staff, best workshop ever!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

New version of the Wireless USB adapter available....

I just found out a new version of the wireless USB adapter is available from Cables Unlimited, which would explain why availability of the old one had been drying up. The updated information came from a readers blog that built one using the newer trulink device, thanks Justin.

The build should be the same, the packaging of this unit is more elegant then the previous, and it has external antennas which could be useful. It will however still require an external power pack. Also the price seems to be a bit higher.