Tuesday, 24 June 2014

VAL Spigot Companion eBook Free Download

To show the breadth of uses for the 1420 VAL Spigot I've prepared a short eBook which is now available as a free download.


Add to Cart

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Lowepro Pro Roller x200 Light Stand Support

I recently read of someone who had the misfortune to break the tube in one of their Elinchrom Quadra Ranger heads as they were using it with an umbrella outside in less than ideal conditions without any means of stability at the base of the light stand.



Many photographers will opt for a sand bag or bags depending on the size of light and prevailing conditions for stability at the base of their light stand. Sand bags are fine so long as you have the means of transporting the weight and bulk. I do carry an empty sand bag in the outside pocket of my Lowepro Pro Roller x200, but it's not always possible to find suitable material to fill the sand bag. Incidentally, I don;t use sand in my sand bags as when it dries out it produces dust which makes a mess, so instead I use washed 10mm pea shingle which is just as effective and doesn't make a mess.

For those photographers who pack their gear light and tight why not use your camera bag, back pack or rolling case for stability?

All you need to do is put your light stand through the grab or drag handle of the case and rest the loaded bag on one of the light stand legs and rest the weight of the bag onto the tripod stand for stability equal to or better than a humble sand bag.



In this image I used a oriental reproduction of the famous Manfrotto Nano stand as these are what are carried in the case used for this shot. This also the reason I've opted for Elinchrom Ranger Quadra's rather than another brand or portable battery flash. The head is light in weight with a separate battery & controller so the light isn't top-heavy increasing stability issues when on location.

Elinchrom flash is available from The Flash Centre. Email Simon Burfoot or call Brian Collier at the Birmingham branch.

Lowepro camera bags are available worldwide http://www.lowepro.com/about-us/where-to-buy


The 1420 VAL Spigot is available from selected retailers in the UK and direct from me for US or UK customers.


If you're serious about your photographic lighting then maybe The LIGHT Side Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelightsidegroup/ will interest you. It's about all things to do with light and lighting. TLS is a closed group so someone will need to add you or you'll need to send a request to be added. It's a friendly group, with a degree of humour and some great photographers willing to share and contribute.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Working with available light

On Saturday 7th June 2014, a small and perfectly formed group of photographers, all members of the Facebook group, The LIGHT Side met on Brighton Beach in blazing sun and moderate wind to work with basic kit to create some stunning images of a delightful model, Lauren Cole.

Hard sunlight, with intermittent light cloud to provide some softening can be quite a challenge, especially when there is no convenient local shade.

With the aid of California Sunbounce reflectors, a DIY diffuser panel and an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra with the 26cm high efficiency reflector I encouraged and guided the group to think about and create their own images. And create some stunning images they did. There are no CLS (Crappy Lighting Sketches) of the set-ups, but there are a few wide shot BTS images. Considering we only shot for less than 80 minutes much was learned and achieved in such a short time.

My thanks to Lauren Cole for standing in at the 11th hour and to Peter Williams for assisting. Linda Johnston, Neil Hobday & Grzegorz Iwanski you did a great job and created images to be proud of.

© Copyright Grzegorz Iwanski 2014

As you can see here, the back/side light was at times somewhat harsh. That said, nice shot Grzegorz.

© Copyright Linda Johnston 2014

The conditions were fine for soaking up the sun or frolicking in the water, but not for flattering portraits. The sun was high and to camera camera right. In the above image the sun was flagged from Lauren with a white rip stop nylon diffusion panel, aka scrim, and light reflected to camera left.

© Copyright Peter Williams 2014

Behind the scenes - holding the reflectors was a challenge when the wind gusted!

© Copyright Neil Hobday 2014

In this image from Neil Hobday two reflectors were used - a California Sunbounce Micro Mini white/gold zebra to camera right and a white DIY diffusion panel acting as a reflector, low to camera left.

© Copyright Neil Hobday 2014

Another from Neil. I love the spontaneity in this image. Same set-up improved pose.

© Copyright Neil Hobday 2014

Again, same set-up. Nice one Neil.

In addition to various reflectors and diffusers Pete Williams & I both packed a single Elinchrom Quadra head kit into our respective backpacks.

© Copyright Grzegorz Iwanski 2014

Contrary to what some say, it is possible to create images in bright sunlight with portable battery flash without resorting to TTL triggers synchronising the flash at shutter speeds beyond the normal flash sync speed, which in most cases is 1/250th second.

What we did was simple, and simple without complications is good!

The direct sun was blocked or flagged from Lauren with my white diffusion panel creating what was in effect open shade. The Elinchrom Quadra was fitted with a deep 26cm high efficiency reflector (no diffusion or colour correction) and metered at around ƒ/8 +⅓, 1/125th 100 ISO. The daylight exposure was close at ƒ/8, 1/125th 100 ISO with the incident dome pointing to the sky opposite the sun and held close to Lauren's face. This gave an effective ration between the flash and ambient of 1:1 in this case the perfect balance. So no dark and under exposed sky here!

© Copyright Linda Johnston 2014

In this case the perfect balance, a stunning light from a hard and undiffused flash. The Quadra was running at around 25% output which is about the same as the average Speedlite or hot shoe flash at 100%. Basically, you can create this kind of image with Speedlites.

The Quadra was roughly 2 feet above Lauren's heard height and about 10 feet away at about 4 o'clock. Peter Williams acted as the VAL - Voice Activated Light Stand. The Quadra head was attached to a painters extension pole with a 1420 VAL Spigot instead of a light stand, which is far more practical on a beach with pebbles.

© Copyright Grzegorz Iwanski 2014

Did I say no dark skies here! Grzegorz (Greg) a great job with this image, the whole thing pulls together nicely.

Outdoor available light workshops are always fun as you don't know what to expect, especially in England. On the 7th June 2014 we were blessed with blazing sunshine and light broken cloud which acts like a scrim to take the edge of the sun.

Linda Johnston made the observation that the white Grid Cloth/RipStop diffusion panel was too much for her taste. Basically, the density of weave in the fabric reduces the intensity of the light and makes the shadows loose any edge definition, turning them milky.

Elinchrom flash is available from The Flash Centre. Email Simon Burfoot or call Brian Collier at the Birmingham branch.

The 1420 VAL Spigot is available from selected retailers in the UK and direct from me for US or UK customers.

If you're serious about your photographic lighting then maybe The LIGHT Side Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelightsidegroup/ will interest you. It's about all things to do with light and lighting. TLS is a closed group so someone will need to add you or you'll need to send a request to be added. It's a friendly group, with a degree of humour and some great photographers willing to share and contribute.














Monday, 16 June 2014

Rogue Flash Bender in use

Today I needed to create a very quick image of a small Jack Russell terrier for a website I designed and manage.


Pip is a working dog so she needs a decent head shot. She greets the clients at her owners stone yard


As these small dogs don't sit still for long, I needed a rapid set-up - enter on-camera flash. Yes, that's right, I used a Canon 580 EXII on my camera hot shoe! I know that I preach off-camera lighting at every opportunity, but there are times when it's just not possible.

To soften the effect of the hard edge light from the Speedlite I used a Stofen Omnibounce in combination with a Large Rogue Flash Bender to give me a double diffused soft light close to the camera lens axis.

Ambient daylight was heavy overcast cloud. The camera was set to Av, 125 ISO.  Camera exposure compensation -1 ⅔ stops - flash exposure compensation +1 ⅓ stops. Lens, 85mm ƒ/1.8 at ƒ/4.

Image is straight out of camera with just my usual processing in Adobe ACR.

Simple is good. As is the ability to relate to and communicate with the client. In this case the owner, with my guidance, was standing behind me with a dog toy to gain Pip's attention. This is frame 3 of about 8. The phone rang which closed the session.

Bill Gekas uses the 1420 VAL Spigot

It's good to get feedback from customers and see the results of images created with such a simple piece of kit. Thank you Bill.

"Great product Ian! It was used on my last photo 'Kilcunda' and much more comfortable for the assistant than holding light stands. It's a very well designed and made product."

http://www.billgekas.com/p1014938437/h2befa497#h2befa497

The 1420 VAL Spigot concerts a simple painters extension pole into a cost-effective lighting boom and has a multitude of other applications and uses for mounting your lights and cameras.

Available from selected photo accessory retailers in the UK and direct from www.gelclip.com

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Diffusing Speedlites with a Translucent Shoot Thro' Umbrella


Just a quick illustration of one of the commonest and least expensive modifiers, the translucent white or shoot through umbrella in use with a Canon 580 EX II Speedlite.

The above illustrations apply with the majority of hot shoe flash or speedlites which have a zoom head with a fresnel lens in front.

Look carefully at the images and compare the areas marked with the yellow arrows and at the the density of the shadow on the backdrop and the area of transition between dark & light on the shadow edges.

The unmodified flash wight the head zoomed to 105mm the flash is effectively a small point light source or hard edge spot light. By placing the umbrella in the beam the photons are deviated from their direct path creating the softening effect.

The angle of the zoom head also has a direct effect with the beam broadening as the head is zoomed wider. This also has the effect of reducing the intensity of the flash by up to one ƒ/stop.

Any modifier will also reduce the amount of light reaching the subject to a lesser or greater extent. Not all translucent umbrellas and diffusion panels reduce the light intensity by the same amount, so it's worth conducting your own tests to see the effect before serious use.

I use Fred the (polystyrene) Head and a grey plastic scoop for consistency, given me an accurate visual comparison between modifiers.

The white translucent umbrella used for this test was the Elinchrom Small 85cm/33.5in translucent umbrella which has a 7mm shaft so is cross compatible with my Elinchrom flash.

In the last two frames LEE Filters 430 or Rosco 3030 grid cloth was stretched on a DIY frame made from plastic overflow water pipe.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

1420 VAL Spigot in the field

Photographer Peter Williams is a serving solider in the British Army so packing his gear light and tight is essential so he's ready to move at a moments notice.

Peter was recently assigned to a shoot for the Army in Gibraltar where he put his 1420 VAL Spigot to good use.


To save space and weight Peter packed a 1420 VAL Spigot, a length of copper pipe, webbing cam lock luggage straps and some adjustable bungees in place of a light stand. As you can see from the image above, providing you can find a sturdy vertical pole, rail, lamp post or whatever you have a light stand.

The 1420 is small enough to tuck in a corner of your camera bag and light enough that you'll not notice it's there until you need it.

For more information on the 1420 VAL Spigot and to order yours online visit www.gelclip.com

My thanks to Peter Williams for sharing this image.

See Peter on the web

Website: http://www.petewilliamsphotography.co.uk

Twitter: @P_WPhotography https://twitter.com/P_WPhotography

Instagram: petewilliamsphotography