Sunday, 14 May 2017

Pixapro PIKA200 in Bright Sun on Brighton Beach

My good friend Jamie Bannerman has just spent two days street casting along Brighton Seafront in Sussex, England to I took the opportunity to try the Pixapro PIKA200 (aka Godox AD200) to create a quick snap of Jamie working - a rare incident worthy of recording 😃


Here's the final image which effectively lit with 2 lights - the sun as the accent light and my Pixapro PIKA200 providing the key light with the bare bulb in place and controlled with the PiXAPRO 48cm Foldable Octagonal Softbox  without either the beauty dish deflector in place or the outer white diffuser.


Rather than a BTS (Behind The Scenes) frame Jamie shot a POV (Point of View) of me in action as I was photographer & light stand!


The boom is an old aluminium tripod leg with The SPIG fixing the clamp bracket in place. The bracket supplied with the PIKA200 isn't a secure fit so I'd rather carry the extra weight & bulk of the clamp bracket.

Another observation, the display on the back of the PIKA200 is great indoors in low light, outside in bright sun it's invisible!


This is the Av TTL frame as the camera interprets the scene - exposure was ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/3200th sec. Based on this I knew I had to get the PIKA200 in close and at full 1/1 power as close to Jamie as possible, hence nothing in front of the flash in the chosen modifier. The direct sun was intermittently slightly softened by high cirrus cloud. Location 51ºN close to 0ºE, Brighton, UK.


With PIKA200 providing the key light in classic butterfly lighting position (see shadow under nose) ISO100, ƒ/4, 1/2500th sec. Flash was about 4' from Jamie - I'd say this is the limit with this combination, but I had to work with what I had with me. Maybe the "standard" 12cm (4.75") hard open reflector, or even the 35mm fresnel head would have been a more efficient if harder option, which then wouldn't have matched the ambient light in the way the 48cm reflector has!



The Pixapro PIKA200 means my basic #EDC Every Day Carry or "Go Bag" is smaller & lighter in the form of a basic Tenba Messenger bag which contains a comprehensive kit with the exception of a light stand and weighs approximately 6kg. As I was working on a potentially crowded public beach the light stand was left in the car.

My thanks to Yang Wu, Ling Tang & team at Pixapro for providing such great service. If you're in the UK do support them as they do offer a 2 year warranty on their products and it really does save a pile of hassle by not dealing with a overseas supplier of potentially unknown provenance who may not be there when you need them . . .

Soon there will be workshops for both off camera flash & studio flash soon - keep an eye on my social media channels for more information.


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That's it for now and don't forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.



Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Creating a gobo pattern backdrop with a Pixapro PIKA200

My blogs are like buses, there's never one for ages and then two come along together!

This is another favourite from the May Day studio lighting tutorial with Justin Goh in Burgess Hill.




The lighting moved up a notch or two for this sequence of images as we progressed through various modifiers to the 120cm (4ft) octa easy-open soft box from Pixapro - the light was provided by a Pixapro CITI600 portable battery flash, which is becoming a studio favourite as there are no trailing cables and I can get 500 or so full power flashes from one fully charged battery. As I recall the flash was set to around 1/32 power. The soft box is double diffused, in other words both the inner & outer diffusers are in place along with the egg crate grid which along with the soft box being feathered away from Ibu controls spill giving a dark background.  The background is the plain white painted studio wall, nothing fancy.


I wanted to add depth and interest to the backdrop so decided to use a second light with a gobo projector attachment in place. This is where the fun starts as I decided to work exclusively with Pixapro battery flash, my gobo projector is the wonderful *Elinchrom Mini SpotLite in which steel gobos are inserted between two lenses (GoBO = Goes Between Optics).

The Pixapro PIKA200 (aka Godox AD200) fits the EL clamp bracket with a slight modification to the material on the moving clamp. To increase efficiency by stopping backward light leak I use a 144mm Speedring soft box adaptor - in controlled tests this gives between ⅓ & ⅔ stops power advantage with a variety of other modifiers on the S-Type & EL brackets.


To get the the subtle window blind effect I didn't need too much power from the PIKA200, most likely about 1/64 with the flash positioned about 12 feet behind and to camera right - the Mini SpotLite was gelled with a ½ CTB.


The background gobo flash is positioned purely for effect in this image - as you can see the image created by the gobo is somewhat small at this close range!

My thanks to Yang Wu, Ling Tang & team at Pixapro for providing such great service. If you're in the UK do support them as they do offer a 2 year warranty on their products and it really does save a pile of hassle by not dealing with a overseas supplier of potentially unknown provenance who may not be there when you need them . . .

There will be more workshops for both off camera flash & studio flash soon - keep an eye on my social media channels for more information.

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That's it for now and don't forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.

Gelled White Background with Pixapro PIKA200

I recently had the pleasure of spending the day introducing Justin Goh to studio lighting with portable battery flash from the fine people at Pixapro with Ibu Babarinde modelling.

Here's one of my favourite images from the day!


2 x PIKA200 (aka Godox AD200) key light with a 48cm Octagonal soft box specifically designed to fit directly to the PIKA200 & Hybrid360 without the use of a clamp adaptor.


The soft box was positioned to camera left about 12" in front of Ibu, above head height with the centre of the light aimed at his eyes. The front diffuser & provided grid were in place with the beauty dish deflector removed. To darken the lower portion of the frame a piece of Black Wrap was clipped in place with a couple of C47 wooden clothes pegs!

The white background was about 6 feet from Ibu and lit with a second PIKA200 set to very low power with a Rosco Light Red gel attached to the 35mm fresnel attachment by means of a Gel Clip.

That's it for now and don't forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.




Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Pixapro PIKA200 Godox AD200 Group Test


My PIKA200 battery flash from Pixapro in England arrived via Mark Ratcliffe last week (don't ask, long story, thanks Mark!) so before venturing out I decided to conduct a controlled comparative test.

The mains flash was included as this is a “portable” known quantity which is used at locations where main power is available. In 2010 I moved to the Elinchrom Quadra system in view of the true portability and additional 1 ƒ/stop of power. I began using the Godox speedlites last year in view of the lithium-ion battery which gives a high number of flashes without the need for a external battery pack, unlike hot shoe flash from the camera manufacturers and many independent makes. In the UK battery flash means that a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) certificate isn’t needed.



I have to confess to being surprised by the results of my controlled output tests - yes, I’d expect the Quadra at 400 w/s to give a higher ƒ/number, but not the PIKA 200 - I think this is related to the shape of the flash tube and position within attached modifiers giving a more efficient spread of light.

Sizes of kit in the image above are all proportionate.


Multiblitz Profilux 200
Elinchrom Quadra
Pixapro PIKA200 / Godox AD200
Godox V850II Speedlite
Quoted Output (stored power)
200 w/s
400 w/s
200 w/s
80 w/s approx.
Power Source
Mains only
Gel Lead Acid or
Lithium Ion (Li-On)

Lithium Ion (Li-On)
Lithium Ion (Li-On)
Weight - includes all items shown in images
2,328g (5.13 lb)
3,670g Lead acid gel battery
(8.09 lb)

1,142g (2.52 lb)
534g (1.17 lb)
Trigger
Optical, PC cable, external third party
Elinchrom Skyport, optical, external third party
Pixapro ST-III / Godox X1, optical
Pixapro ST-III / Godox X1, optical
Incident metered output, standard reflector 1m from flash tube, ISO100, no diffusion in place
- all flash at 100% power, multiple pops after full recharge cycle
ƒ/29 - circular flash tube
(ƒ/22 + ½)

ƒ/38 - circular flash tube
(ƒ/32 +
)
ƒ/38 - 35mm fresnel head, linear flash tube (ƒ/32 + )
ƒ/38 - open face reflector, spiral flash tube (ƒ/32 +
)

ƒ/18 - fresnel head, linear flash tube zoomed to 35mm (ƒ/16 + )

I'll now be using the PIKA200s on a regular basis along with a Godox Speedlite to make a very portable & lightweight, mobile 3 point flash/strobe lighting kit.

That's it for now and don't forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

The SPIG 1420 - new stock now available


If you're looking for a compact & lightweight multipurpose lighting accessory, then The SPIG is just that - weighing in at around 3oz/85g & approx. 3" long with standard ⅝" mini pin/spigot, ¼"20 & ⅜"16 plus cold shoe adaptor - designed to fit securely to standard threaded ¾" painters extension poles and even bar clamps & locking pliers.









I designed The SPIG as I couldn't find another product to meet my lighting needs and solve challenges both on location & in the studio.



The SPIG is available as a Standard Kit which includes a ¼" - ⅜" thread adaptor or as the Off Camera Flash Kit which includes  a ¼" - ⅜" thread adaptor, mini ball head & cold shoe adaptor.



For now there is no online ordering available, so to place your order email thespig1420@gelclip.com and I'll send a Paypal invoice.

Click image to view larger

The SPIG is only available direct from me and ships worldwide.

You can see more of The SPIG in action on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The SPIG - Camera Gear Cart Light Stand


Using a gear cart as a light stand

The SPIG converts a painters pole into a light stand when you don't have the benefit of an assistant. My camera bag was used as ballast to steady the set-up and to reduce spill from the red gelled flash my Passport Colour Checker!



This set-up also works with a umbrella up to about 40" and soft box up to 80cm square - wind is a consideration when working like outside, so the heavier the load, the more ballast weight required!

Don't let your lighting be limited by light stands! See more of The SPIG on Facebook & Instagram.

The SPIG will be available shortly, I'm currently awaiting the arrival of new stock.

That's it for now and don't forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Introduction to Exposure - Kindle & Print Editions


It's taken longer than expected, but my first photography book is now available from Amazon for Kindle or in print https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N4KBC49

The book is intended give you the knowledge and confidence to move your exposure mode from Auto or Program and enhance your understanding of how exposure works and how your digital camera records images. It will expand your creative horizons and allow you interpret your pre-visualisation of an image or scene.

My intention is not to overload readers with too much information or unnecessary jargon.

So far feedback is positive. I'm working on follow-up books including Exposure for Flash Photography this will cover working with flashes in the studio and on location, including small flash (speedlites and hot shoe flash), portable battery flash & studio mains powered mono blocs.

That's it for now and don't forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The SPIG Mini Boom for 055 Nano Lighting Stand


Booms on larger lighting stands such as C-stands allow for accurate and convenient positioning of lights. It's not always convenient to carry heavy studio gear on location so here's a simple solution which uses kit many will already own or is easily available from a DIY or hardware store.


The boom arm is a 1m length of 16mm ⅝" steel tube - I decided not to use aluminium as it has too much flex to be useful.

By attaching the Speedlite by means of a PIXAPRO® SMART Speedlite Adapter Bracket - this allows me to use pop-up soft boxes such as Lastolite Ezybox or similar, umbrellas and Bowens S-Type modifiers.


This is fixed to a Kupo Grip Umbrella Swivel, in my experience this is the best umbrella swivel available by means of my SPIG aka the 1420 VAL Spigot inverted.


By using The SPIG in conjunction with the Kupo Umbrella swivel I've effectively created a lightweight grip head!


The boom is counterbalanced by means of two lengths of 550lb paracord attached to one end of the tube, in which I've filed a shallow rounded recess.


Stability for the stand & boom is provided by my camera back pack attached to the lower locking screw back a locking paracord tie.

Remember when rigging any light stand that one leg should extend under the light to reduce the risk of the light falling forward.


The boom is adjusted and tensioned by means of a Prusik Knot which slides freely when not under a load and locks tight when a load is applied.


Using the Kupo Umbrella Swivel allows for 180º of adjustment if required.




Using the boom also allows sturdy extension without needing to extend the flexible inner extensions.

Kit laid out on a 60cm generic pop-up soft box - clockwise from top left:


NOTE
This rig is only recommended for Speedlites with modifiers up to about 80cm - I do not recommend using bigger lights or modifiers as the 055 Handy stand is intended for use with lightweight, let's say less than 1kg (2.2lb) lights and modifiers. Base stability in the form of sand bags or a well laden camera bag is essential.

I highly recommend the Pixapro brand products available from https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk - Yang Wu and the team offer a superb level of customer service (yes, I have experienced it) both on the telephone and by the website Live Chat!

That's it for now and don't forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

PiXAPRO DeepPara90 Parabolic Softbox on Location

I recently took delivery of a Pixapro Deep Para 90 parabolic soft box - I'm waiting for the central pole bracket to arrive so in the meantime have been shooting with the modifier in fixed direct mode giving a relatively hard light without the hot spot experienced with some soft boxes. Being deeper than conventional soft boxes gives a more controlled beam to the light emitted.


For this image I wanted to create a low key look to contribute to the tension created by the angle of
Joe's body and expression.


The Pixapro CITI600 was placed high on a c-stand with the Deep Para 90 parabolic soft box feathered away from the background towards the camera.


Only the internal diffuser was used and the modifier gelled full CTO (LEE 204, Rosco 3407) with the gel held in place with C47 wooden clothes pegs.



My camera was set to record RAW files in order I could correct the orange colour cast in post-processing. A lens cloth from my Lowepro camera bag makes a useful grey when you can't be bothered to walk back to the studio to get the Colour Checker!


With the dark background was created by controlling the ambient light working under the shade of a large tree in my garden and a shutter speed of 1/200th sec. The shade of the tree canopy acted a large flag blocking the direct afternoon sunlight.


The image also works in black & white via Silver eFex Pro conversion.


Variations on the image with post-production notes - the final look being dictated by end use!

I highly recommend the Pixapro brand products available from https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk - Yang Wu and the team offer a superb level of customer service (yes, I have experienced it) both on the telephone and by the website Live Chat!

That's it for now and don't forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.






Wednesday, 10 August 2016

PiXAPRO DeepPara90 Parabolic Softbox Studio Portrait



Last week I had the pleasure of photographing Joe, a friend of our youngest daughter. This gave me the opportunity to test the PiXAPRO DeepPara90 Parabolic Softbox on my CITI600 TTL head.

To keep things simple I used the single light with just the internal diffuser at a range of about 4' to camera right, feathered toward camera, just out of frame and a foot or so above Joe's head with the flash tube centred on Joe as there's a marked fall-off with this modifier. Light and modifier where on a c-stand for stability.


Joe was sat on an old milk crate and positioned about 6' from the studio white infinity curve allowing the background to render dark grey.

Post processing on this image was pretty straight forward with a dodge & burn adjustment layer and a black & white layer created in Silver Efex Pro for the desaturated look.

I highly recommend the Pixapro brand products available from https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk - Yang Wu and the team offer a superb level of customer service (yes, I have experienced it) both on the telephone and by the website Live Chat!

That's it for now and don't forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join 
The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Pixapro CITI600 TTL on location

The first time I took my Pixapro CITI600 TTL portable battery flash on location, in typical English fashion the sun disappeared behind cloud and rain so I didn't bother testing the high-speed sync facility as planned.



This Ed Nugent; Ed is one of life's nice guys, a nurseryman, grower & plantsman who's worked with plants since leaving school, including exhibiting at the internationally renowned Chelsea Flower Show in London. He and his wife Josie have just established a new plant nursery Garden Sage not too far from the studio I work from in Burgess Hill. I popped in to a) see what was in offer & b) buy some herbs plants - as you do, we got talking as Ed was on hand to welcome the customers, a great touch and testament to his desire for the nursery to succeed. He even agreed to be photographed for my Sussex Photographer blog!

As I said at the beginning, they day became very grey thick cloud & rain making for a a very cool look to the images which didn't really give the look I wanted. To compensate for this I added ½ CTB (Colour Temperature Blue) gel - LEE Filters 202 ½ CT Blue, took a grey balance reference close to Ed's face to correct in post-processing. This gave me the warmer background area not lit by the flash.


The Pixapro CITI600 TTL battery mono bloc flash head was mounted to a 20" sliding leg Kupo Grip C-stand with a 40" boom - I find this a very stable & versatile configuration for most lights from Speedlites through to bulky mains powered studio heads. It's essential to remember that when rigging any light stand that one of the legs MUST bender the load of the light & boom for optimum stability.

The soft box is the Pixapro 60cm portable beauty dish (silver inside) with the front diffuser in place, but not the inner deflector. This modifier has a recessed diffuser panel allowing a egg crate grid (supplied) to add more direction & less spill to the light.

As this is a TTL unit I used the TTL facility in conjunction with the Pixapro ST-III T (Canon) trigger. My camera was set to Av with -⅔ stop exposure compensation dialled in. The flash was set to TTL via the trigger & an initial exposure compensation of -1 dialled in (this was established with a number of controlled Fred Tests prior to use). When using the CITI600 you'll notice that any exposure compensation does not appear on the head display; this doesn't mean the flash doesn't recognise the trigger commands, it's just the head is designed to work with both Canon & Nikon camera systems. This may or may not change with future firmware upgrades.

The first frame was a bit hot (over-exposed) so I dialled in -2 stops exposure compensation on the ST-IIIT trigger and was ready to go. The light was not that challenging so for the short duration of the shoot I didn't need to change this.


Given the ambient light conditions, camera Av TTL exposure was ISO 160, ƒ/4, 1/160th sec.

The Pixapro CITI600 TTL  is a welcome addition to my portable lighting gear as it fits nicely when I need a wide aperture ƒ/stop for shallow depth of field (DoF) effects which with conventional portable battery flash are not possible without the use of a camera lens 0.9 solid ND filter which darkens the view finder & reduces the exposure overall requiring more flash power. I will have Speedlites in my kit, which on average are 80w/s compared to the mighty 600w/s of the CITI600 at full power:)

During a controlled location Fred Test I've achieved with a 45º deep long focus reflector in place (honeycomb grid not fitted), ƒ/22 at 4m (13ft) in bright sunlight, Manual 1/1, camera ISO 100, 1/50th sec.

The Pixapro CITI600 TTL is also available in a non-TTL version.

Pixapro CITI600 TTL Key Features:

  • TTL auto exposure Canon & Nikon with appropriate trigger, variable over a ±3 stop range in ⅓ stop increments.
  • Manual from 1/1 to 1/256th power - a firmware upgrade is required for the ST-III T rigger at the time of writing as the trigger only goes to 1/128th power. Be aware that the firmware upgrade is only PC, not Mac for now and the download page is in Chinese.
  • Multi stroboscopic flash with variable frequency.
  • 32 channels and 5 groups.
  • 10w CoB LED modelling light with three power levels.

Of special interest to some will be the flash tube which is user replaceable and has a protective glass cover - reducing the risk of damage or electric shock from an exposed flash tube.

The design of the flash tube projects as well as radiating light improving efficiency with most Pixapro reflectors and modifiers - Speedlites and the Profoto B1 & B2 have concealed flash tubes very much like a Speedlite so only project light! The LED modelling light is positioned to project light through the flash tube and gives a surprisingly accurate preview.

Very soon a remote lead will be available for the head which means the power supply & flash head will be separate, very much like the Elinchrom Quadra system - one of the reasons which attracted me to the system originally was low mass on the top of a light stand when on location outside.

Also, not the construction of the 60cm portable beauty dish, very durable and not dissimilar to the Elinchrom Rotalite range of flash modifiers.

The instruction manual is clear & concise. These days a paper manual is a bonus as much of the time manuals and user guides are PDF download for DIY printing.

I highly recommend the Pixapro brand products available from https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk - Yang Wu and the team offer a superb level of customer service (yes, I have experienced it) both on the telephone and by the website Live Chat!

If you're based in UK Yang and the Essential Photo team will be at The Photography Show 19-22 March 2016, stand E91

That's it for now and don't forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.