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.




Monday, 14 March 2016

Pixapro ST-III TTL Wireless Flash Trigger

Pixapro ST-III TTL Transmitter & Receiver for Canon DSLR cameras
I conducted my initial test of the Pixapro ST-III T (Canon) with a Canon 580EXII Speedlite. For now the triggers are only available for Canon or Nikon. I'm informed that Sony compatible units will be available later in 2016.

First impressions. The build quality and layout of controls is good, although the CH (Channel Select), GR (Group Setting) & MODE (Mode Selection) buttons would benefit from white fill to the recessed letters (see photograph). The backlit LCD display is clear and once I became familiar with the button sequences changing channels and moving between modes is straight forward.

Camera Trigger ST-III TTL-T Canon
Buttons:
TEST - press to see if flash fires, also to trigger remote camera with supplied lead.
Select Dial -  Changes flash power, moves between groups and modes.
CH - Changes channel 1-32 and adjusts custom functions.
GR - Selects group A-C and confirms settings.
MODE - Moves groups between modes.

It should be noted that the flash group to be adjusted needs to be in the centre of the screen next to the white dot on the left of the backlit LCD panel.

The flash group to be adjusted needs to be in the centre of the screen next to the white dot on the left
When set to Manual Mode the flash power may be adjusted from 1/128 to 1/1 power in 1/3 stop increments. In TTL Auto mode exposure may be compensated between ±3 in 1/3 stop increments. I don’t know if this is a feature or an anomaly, but when set to Manual mode the power settings are mirrored on the flash LCD display, but not when in TTL. Apparently this is a feature of the Pixapro CITI600 (Godox AD600) as the flash is multi camera system compatible.

In TTL mode the ST-III trigger doesn’t need switching between normal & HS Flash mode it does it automatically. On my flash I have to switch to HS Sync and the trigger recognises this.

Wireless range is stated as >100m which will be line of sight with no obstacles. Indoors, depending upon conditions, less.

There is an AF beam assist for those times when light levels are low or contrast insufficient for cameras to focus.

Flash/Speedlite Receiver ST-III TTL-R Canon
Buttons:
TEST - Fires all functioning flashes with compatible receivers in place.
CH - Changes channel 1-32.
GR - Selects group A-E.

Both units have a Micro USB socket for firmware upgrades - which at the time of writing only seem available in Chinese and MS Windoze OS. Nothing for Mac users. The transmitter also has a PC socket which will allow older studio flash etc to be used triggered but not controlled remotely.

I’ve tested Pixapro ST-III TTL Wireless Flash Trigger/Receiver set with the following:

Pixapro CITI600 TTL - total remote control
Yong Nuo 565 EXII - TTL, Manual remote power setting, no HS
Canon 580 EXII - total remote control
Canon 550 EX - Manual only, no HS or TTL
Elinchrom Ranger Quadra - trigger only
Elinchrom BXRi - trigger only
Elinchrom EL500 - trigger only
Multiblitz Profilux 200 - trigger only



This means is you can mix differing makes & types of studio flash & speedlites with ease. A selection of adaptor leads are supplied, including a lead to use the trigger/receiver as a remote camera trigger.

THE trigger & receiver are both powered by AA cells, not supplied.

The instruction manual is clear & concise, although if you’re like me the type is of a size where reading glasses will be necessary! 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.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

How to attach lighting gels to studio & battery flash

I've worked lighting correction, effects and diffusion gels for most of my photography career - in the early days shooting video correcting tungsten lights to daylight entering through a window necessitated clipping a blue CTB gel to the barn doors of the hot lights - hot lights because if you touched any metal part your finger would blister, hence why we used to all have a pair of riggers gloves handy.

Simple, cheap and effective,  fixing lighting gels to barn doors with wooden clothes pegs



A few lighting gaffers used metal crocodile clips to clamp gels to a hot light and many nothing more sophisticated than the humble wooden clothes peg - wooden clothes peg don't transmit heat and if they get too hot only char - use plastic clothes pegs on a hot light and they melt! The wooden clothes peg has become the subject of myth - in the film industry they are know as C47s!

The same principles apply when attaching gels to modern studio & portable battery location flash with a reflector in place.

The 600w/s TTL Pixapro CITI600 battery location/studio flash with standard reflector

I keep a handful of wooden clothes pegs in my camera bags along with numerous other useful odds & ends not directly photography related!


The quick & scruffy way to attach lighting gels to flash reflectors, clip a couple of clothes pages direct to the reflector.


It's also possible to gel soft boxes and beauty dish modifiers using clothes pegs by clamping the gel to the soft box spars.


Another useful accessory is the Double or Multi-Clip. The name will vary according to where you buy or who manufacturers. 


Pair of Double Clips attached to your flash reflector make a easier solution for attaching gels to lights.


Here you can see a LEE Filters cosmetic gel (combined diffusion/colour) clamped to an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra standard reflector with a pair of Double Clips.


If you need to change gels frequently during sessions then I use a piece of clear acetate or polycarbonate sheet clamped between the Double Clips.


Gels are then attached to the clear sheet with clothes pegs! This is also useful with diffusion gels as it increases the distance from the flash tube giving a better diffusion effect. When using diffusion gels and textiles I use a scrim frame as it allows me to fine tune the distance between the diffusion & light source, as illustrated in the image below.

Click on image to view larger.


The Pixapro CITI600 portable battery flash is available from Essential Photo in Birmingham, England.

I work mainly with LEE Filters which are available from Acebil in UK and other retailers worldwide.

Elinchrom portable battery & studio flash is available from The Flash Centre - call Birmingham store and talk with Brian Collier or email Simon Burfoot and don't forget to mention this blog.

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.








Monday, 29 February 2016

Day for Night with LEE Filters CTO 204


Would you buy a used car from this man? You may recognise my good friend Jamie Bannerman, I've been shooting his head shots for Spotlight etc since around 2001 - he's also the bloke in the image at the top of this blog.

This image was created outside of our Burgess Hill studio to demonstrate the simplicity of using a colour correction gel to create a blue background night-time effect, aka day-for-night.

The set-up BTS (Behind The Scenes) frame, colour corrected in post.

The studio I work from is based in a busy industrial area/business park south of London Gatwick Airport and north of Brighton & Hove, so shooting outside presents numerous challenges as seen from the BTS frame.

Uncorrected file showing the effect of the LEE Filters CTO 204 gel.

Kit List & Camera Settings

  • Camera: Canon 5D MkII
  • Light Source: Canon 580 EX II Speedlite
  • Light Modifier: 86" (7ft) satin silver reflective umbrella, similar to 
  • Lighting Filter: LEE Filters 204 CTO Full (100%) Colour Temperature Orange - CC Colour Conversion Filter for daylight (6500K) to tungsten light (3200K) "daylight" varies according to the source. Here's an insight from Lowel.
  • Gel Holder: The Original Gel Clip
  • White Balance: Daylight, which on my Canon 5DII seems to be 4850K, I tend to dial in 5300K as a starting point!
  • File Format: RAW & JPEG
  • Shutter Speed: 1/1000th sec
  • Aperture: ƒ/2.2
  • ISO: 320


The same RAW file as above with White Balance adjusted in RAW convertor to 3200K


Post Production Processing
The frame above has been processed in a RAW file convertor, intros case Adobe Camera RAW (ACR). The WB White Balance has been adjusted to 3200K which introduces blue into the frame to neutralise the overall orange colour cast. The introduction of the blue colour neutralises the orange colour on Jamie's face and any light not created by the CTIO flash is rendered blue.

The grey card in the image is used to sample the colour for correction. I prefer grey (gray) as it's less susceptible to exposure errors than white which can blow-out/over exposure and not enable an accurate WB correction, even with a RAW file.

One of the final images

Finishing
The final images were dodged and burned using Adjustment Layers in Adobe Photoshop™ to add depth to the blue and draw attention to Jamie's face - cool colours tend to recede and warm colours will enhance similar, i.e. skin tones, flatter & focus attention.

Credits


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, 28 February 2016

PIXAPRO LED100D MKII Daylight Balanced LED Studio Light


I like to keep up to date with developments with lighting for stills and video photography, a new light which has been bought to my notice is a powerful 100w LED unit with a CRI ≥94 which makes the PIXAPRO LED100D MKII Daylight Balanced LED Studio Light a unit useful for photographers who need a cool running continuous daylight source for studio & location use.



A high CRI Colour Rendering Index https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_rendering_index is indicative of accurate colour rendition where the light emitted is close to full spectrum with no unwanted colour spikes or holes!

The PIXAPRO LED100D MKII Daylight Balanced LED Studio Light is mains or battery powered from a V-Lock battery and features a standard S-Type accessory fitting allowing photographers to utilise existing Bowens S-Type modifiers, reflectors and accessories.

Available now from Pixapro for less than £300.00 https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/product/pixapro-led100d-mkii-daylight-balanced-led-studio-light/

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, 17 January 2016

CamKart Photo Equipment Trolley



The ultimate and unique all terrain equipment trolley - designed by photographer Paul Slater Saban for photographers.

Once in a while I get truly excited about something, this is one such time. A well designed and unique rolling camera bag which really caters for  the needs of photographers who don't work in towns and cities with smooth pavements and sidewalks.

Paul has used the original prototype for six years in three continents proving that the product works.


If you're in England you can see the CamKart & meet Paul at Stand No M120 at the SWPP Convention Trade Show starting on the 22th January at The Hilton Metropole Hotel in London or at NEC The Photography Show in Birmingham on the 19th March 2016.

You may follow Paul on Twitter or visit the CamKarts Facebook page.

Good luck Paul Slater Saban, this product is worthy of success.

Image © Copyright Paul Saban 2016