Thursday, 30 September 2010

Mixing Rosco Litepads with Off-Camera Flash

I've just completed a post reviewing the cheapy Youngnuo YN460 manual hot shoe flash and thought it would be good to share my lighting for the review pack shot with you. This is an interesting exercise as I have mixed both flash and a continuous daylight balanced LED light sources.

This is the wide shot of my lighting set up, click on the image to view larger:
  1. Rosco Litepads 12 in x 6 in running from a mains transformer 100% output
  2. Mid grey PVC background clamped to the studio bench to provide a curve or scoop continuous background
  3. Elinchrom Mini Spot Lite with venetian blind gobo. Light source is a Canon 550 EX Speedlite with Gel Clip and Rosco full CTB gel for effect. This was well out of shot, probably 4ft 6in or so. Speedlite on manual 1/8th power, fired with a radio trigger.
  4. Rosco Litepads 12 in x 6 in running from a mains transformer with in line dimmer 25% output
  5. Manfrotto Proball 468RC
  6. Canon 50D with 50 mm f1.4 lens at f2.8 - not too sure why, it just felt good at the time. Maybe I should have used a smaller stop?
  7. Salon studio stand. A solid piece of heavy metal that I once used with 5 x 4 film view cameras! Rock solid for long or slow exposures.

This the first frame with just the back 3/4 Rosco Litepad (1). The camera was set to Av (aperture priority) to gauge the base exposure.

I then fired a second frame, and as luck would have it, the exposure for the Mini Spot Lite (3) is right where I wanted it:-))

The back plate of the flash lacks detail so a second Rosco Litepad (4) was added with an in line dimmer to control the output. The frame above was at 1/3rd power. Notice where the blue light hits the flash head that it is darker than on the grey cyc. Worth remembering when lighting backgrounds if you want a richer, more intense colour.

Personally 1/3rd power is a little too bright so I dialled the output down to 2.5 on the dimmer. Subtle but effective. I have also changed the angle of the gogo in the Mini Spot Lite to give a more dynamic diagonal line to the effect light. This is the frame used at the head of the YN460 blog.

With the Elinchrom Mini Spot Lite you can focus the front lens to give a sharper or softer effect. In this shot the detail in the gobo is lost to give a blue wash of light.

That's it for now. Off to do some work on Gel Clips.

Happy snappin'.


Yongnuo Digital Speedlite YN460

Yongnuo Digital Speedlite YN460

This is a manual only hot shoe flash of Chinese origin suitable for Strobist and off-camera flash lighting. The YN40 features a bounce and swivel head, turning through 270 degrees horizontal and 90 degrees from front facing to vertical with an inbuilt optical only slave.

The back panel is a simple layout with rubberised switches operating directly onto the PCB (printed circuit board). There are 3 operating modes M manual giving 1/64th to full power, S1 which works really well with Canon Speedlites, or other Speedlites using a pre-flash system as a slave and S2 for Speedlites that do not use a pre-flash system.

YN460 features:
* 33 Guide Number, making this about half the output of a comparable Canon, Nikon, Nissin or Sigma unit
* In-built mini bounce card and wide angle diffuser
* Bounce/tilt head 270 degrees horizontal, 90 degrees vertical
* Audio charge indicator
* 1/64th to 100% power output adjustment
* Built in optical slave for off camera flash
* Plastic stand with a metal 1/4 in Whit threaded insert - unlike the stand supplied with manufacturers units
* Powered from 4 x AA alkaline or Nickel Metal Hydride cells
* Fixed flash tube with no zoom facility.

The door to the battery compartment is a little flimsy and would not stand up to regular use or some who is heavy-handed or clumsy VALs (Voice Activated Lightstands) aka assistants or helpers.
Power adjustment is simple and by default is 1/64th from left to right in whole stop increments.

In my tests, the optical slave trigger works well in low ambient light situations, but not where there in high ambient light i.e. outdoors on a sunny day. Um, could be a good unit for the British weather. Maybe not, I would draw the line at using this one in the rain.

For the optical sensor to work it needs direct flash light to within about 30 or so degrees of the red sensor window. It does not work with weak indirect or bounce flash.

Overall this is a value for money unit, costing only £36.89 from a UK based Ebay seller. 

If you are starting out and experimenting with Strobist lighting then this is cheap starting point for you. With plenty of practice and the right modification and control you will be able to create some stunning images.

Pack's rating 4**** or 80%

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Frio Cold Shoe

Those clever people that bought us the wonderful Orbis™Ring Flash have now created the new must-have accessory for fans of off-camera flash or Strobist lighting, the Frio Cold Shoe™.

Basically, the Frio Cold Shoe™ is a clever plastic mount to take your hot shoe flash and attach it to anything with a standard 1/4" Whitworth (20 threads per inch) screw, the film and photo industry standard. The Frio Cold Shoe™ is a vast improvement on the camera manufacturers supplied plastic shoe as it has a metal threaded insert which is much stronger than plastic, so no more stripped threads. There is also a spring clip to stop your precious flash sliding out of the Frio Cold Shoe™ and a moulded loop for attaching a bungee of other form of securing strap. For Nikon users (not me) the Frio Cold Shoe™ will take the oversize foot of a SB-900!

Enlight Photo have put a teaser website online, but we'll have to wait until October to get our hands on them. I know for a fact that I will be ordering a few of these babies!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Shoreham Air Show 2011

You will be pleased to hear that the dates for Shoreham Air Show 2011 have been announced - Saturday & Sunday 20 and 21 August 2011, which incidentally clashes with the Rutland Bird Fair. Needless to say I know where I'll be and the birds will not be feathered!

I suggest that you bookmark the Shoreham Air Show website and also keep an eye on Park Cameras website, as there is a rumour that they will again be running a photography workshop over the two days of the show.

Friday, 17 September 2010

A Glimpse of the Future - 10 Innovative Concept Phones

A Glimpse of the Future - 10 Innovative Concept Phones

This guest post was contributed by Phone Shield

A quantum leap in the number of seemingly mind-blowing and fascinating cell phones had direct bearing on everyone's personal and professional lifestyles in the past few years. It won't be a surprise if there is an explosive growth in this field as many companies have emerged with idea of creating innovative phone devices to shape the future in phone business and usage. Following are 10 such devices that appear to be especially promising.

The Most Future-Ready "Google Chrome Tablet"

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This is perhaps the most interesting and resilient alternative to iPad based on the degree of features, dedication and simplicity put forth in designing it. With interactive touch screen keyboard that has split, anchor facilities, multitask and multi-touch capabilities, the "Googlet", as it is called, is no less competent than any other gadgets in the market.

Recombu's Revolutionary "Ovi Orion"

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A new gizmo with features that makes sense in every way, targeting enthusiastic hardcore mobile gamers in real world. The design seems to rid itself of the previous complications with the inclusion of user friendly interface, 4.3-inch touch screen and multiple gaming buttons on each side. With Nokia's name on the phone, this will be winning the heart and minds of gamers, according to the creator.

The LTE device

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The company in collaboration with NEC, Fujitsu and Panasonic is keeping its mind open to the release of LTE chip technology device that is all set to hit the headlines before the end of 2010. Reports suggest that the design of this device was being concentrated on substantially increasing data transmit rate using 3G technology.

When the "Shape Shifter" Wakes Up

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Just as Fabian Hemmert and his team of brilliant minds signalled the emergence of a new type of phone that would change its shape during certain circumstances, the idea indicated that the mobile phone world is a reality soup of infinite possibilities. Depending on the type of space the device occupies, it can adjust itself either by expanding across the axis or contract accordingly.

Living Off-world with Synaptics’ "Fuse"

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The "Fuse" will be featuring new enhancement in touch screen technology with its entire set of sensors by adapting single-handed touch screen navigation through touch, pressure and feedback mechanism.

Power Saving "Mobile Script"

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The trend used in Mobile Script phone will unlock the lingering rulebook of how to effectively use solar power in gadgets. By having two touch screens, a regular and a OLED screen that scrolls inside, the unique feature provide new visions of reality beyond expectation.

Hungarian Designed "Asus Aura"

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The convergence of Mobile Script phone and retractable Qwerty keyboard is the plot behind "Asus Aura".
The phone is 6mm thick, has a 2.0 megapixel camera and a 3.9-inch screen along with navigation bar and keys to adjust across the screen as required.

Tiny "Qualcomm Teleepoch"

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The making of this entity that tries to emulate the size of the chip it is designed with is surely going to be a hoped-for breakthrough in phone technology. The implementation of accelerometers and voice recognition technology in place of buttons represents complexity and opportunity all at the same time.

High-Tech, High-Quality "Nokia Morph"

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To keep pace with the growing demand for gadgets from a huge audience of global customers, Nokia Research Centre will be offering the Morph phones utilizing nano-science. Imitating the Mobile Scroll that absorbs sun light to transform into power for the battery coupled with self-cleaning and self-preserving capability, the phone would react to environment condition through nano-sensors.

Ultra user-friendly "Synaptics Onyx"

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Another phone device from Synaptics that was revealed in 2000 having many features such as multitasking, integration of applications and many other newly synthesized ideas has the potential to grab attention of the gadget lovers and persuade into buying one.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Portrait Photography Lighting Workshop

See below for the lighting diagram for this shot

Sorry that the blog and Twitter have been quiet for some time. I did try and take a break during August for some well deserved R & R and to decorate my eldest daughters bedroom, but work got in the way! Meetings that could not be moved and location shoots where the models were shipped in from throughout the UK - enough said. Last week was spent reestablishing a client's business systems after the rapid departure of a key staff member. This last instance is proof that you need skills beyond photography to succeed today.

I digress. A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of leading a portrait photography workshop for Park Cameras with a great bunch of photographers willing and eager to learn how to light portraits better. This workshop was a real eye-opener for me as the workshop was supposed to be orientated toward studio lights, in this Bowens Gemini - less than an hour into the workshop the consensus was that everyone wanted to know how to light their portraits, but using Speedlites instead of studio flash. Not an unreasonable request since most people own at least one hot shoe flash for their camera. Just as well that I had my OCF case (off-camera flash) with me - expect the unexpected.

To my mind the Speedite or hot shoe flash has got to be the most underestimated tool in a photographers bag. When photographers start out they wonder why their people pictures look so horrid and the answer is simple - on-camera flash - move the flash away from the camera and a whole new photographic journey begins.

You do need some extra gear to get started with off-camera flash and this need not break the bank. I am working on a series of kit lists for off-camera flash beginners to more advanced users so watch this space. Some of the most useful accessories cost less than a tenner ((£10/10GBP).

Here's how I created the shot at the top of the page:

Canon 550 EX Speedlite triggered with a radio remote. Power in the region of 1/8th, manual. No E-TTL for this one. Gel Clip with Rosco Strobist Collection Light Red gel and a tight snoot formed from Rosco matte black Photofoil. You don't need a lot of power as the flash was only about 6 feet from the white background paper.

Canon 580 EX II triggered with a Flash Zebra optical trigger. Rosco Strobist Collection 1/4 & 1/2 CTO gels (3/4 CTO - gels can be stacked or layered for a cumulative effect). CTO or colour temperature orange are really intended for correcting daylight light sources to incandescent/tungsten, depending on whether you speak Nikon or Canon! I guess power on manual was around 1/16th.

3. Alexandra, our patient and lovely model. Thanks for tolerating us. Much appreciated.

Canon 550 EX with 60 cm/24 inch Lastolite Ezybox about 2 feet from Alexandra. Power was around 1/8th or 1/16th. Not too sure as wasn't taking notes and when working manual via a radio trigger the setting do not show up in the files metadata. Gel Clip with a 1/4 CTO to warm up the skin tones.

9 foot white background roll. There's nothing to stop you using a white painted wall. The background has gone grey as a result of the light falling off rapidly as I had the key light close to the model.

If anyone is interested I'll write a complete kit list for this image, as there is a lot more kit in use than you could imagine.

With regard to lighting kit - probably the best investment you'll make in your photography career as it will last and not date as quickly as camera gear, if at all (with exception of some camera manufacturer units). I've been collecting my lighting gear for over 30 years and the quest continues. Clamps, grips, stands, spigots, flash heads, hot lights, cool lights, diffusers, reflectors the list goes on. I can guarantee that there will always something you need to make life easier the next time you shoot with flash or any artificial lighting! I've just ordered a Speedlite to Bowens S type adaptor and also need an Avenger/Manfrotto scissor clamp C1000 that goes onto the rails of a suspended ceiling - you see the list in never ending.

Rosco Photofoil - just the stuff for creating snoots and gobo's for your off-camera flash or Speedlites

I have a roll of Rosco Cinefoil, the wide equivalent of Photofoil that must be over 15 years old. This stuff is tough, I have a piece in my bag that must be over 5 years old and still going strong despite pin holes and creases. I suppose Cinefoil and Photofoil develop character with age. These bits could tell a tale or two based on one of the shoots a couple weeks back; it's just as well they cannot;-)