Location lighting with Pixapro (Godox) Flash


My thanks to Amateur Photographer magazine for including one of my images in the feature “Exploring lighting options with the pros” Tuesday 17 November 2020 edition. This prompted me to expand this and a another image from the assignment.

Background

www.ditchlingcabin.com is a secluded cabin on a private lake in the South Downs National Park about 10 miles from Brighton and close to rural Ditchling village.

The owner needed a series of images to show the cozy, idyllic lakeside retreat on their website and on various booking portals.

Photography

The brief was broad from exterior lifestyle sunlit images, people enjoying being on the water, lit interiors and evocative exteriors.

The two images featured here are worthy of mention as they show with knowledge and experience what can be achieved. They did not happen by chance.

I enjoy the challenge of location shoots, previsualisation and planning are essential. Time of day, camera and lighting positions all need consideration. As do models, props and appropriate equipment.

For some time now I’ve chosen to use Pixapro’s portable battery flash. I took a brief sojourn with a Swiss brand of portable flash and ultimately decided that the Pixapro system offered the best solution for me based on versatility, size, output and price. All Pixapro battery flash from 60Ws Speedlite to 1200Ws will work together from one wireless trigger without messy work arounds.

The Couple

I had an idea in my mind how this couple look and planned my arrival in order to give me time to shoot a few fillers and then this sunset image. I needed to work fast as the sun would drop below the tree line in about ten minutes of shooting this.

 
I set up a Pixapro CITI400PRO TTL battery mono bloc flash with a 60cm octa soft box without any diffusion so it became a large open face reflector. From a previous recce visit I knew roughly the colour of the sun on a clear(ish) day so selected a LEE Fiilters 775 Soft Amber Key 2 gel from the Master Location Kit I carry as part of my car based location kit.

Ambient exposure, no flash. Straight out of camera

The gel was clipped inside the light with wooden clothes pags and positioned approximately in position relative to where the couple would sit.



The camera as set to Manual after establishing my base exposure using Aperture priority auto exposure. I used a Pixapro ST-IV wireless flash trigger and ensured that both the channel and group matched on both the trigger and flash! Initially the flash was set to TTL auto is establish the flash exposure for the scene.


Once I was happy with the result, I used the TCM - TTL Convert to Manual button on the flash controller fix the flash exposure to manual. That was during the short shoot the both the flash and camera exposure would remain constant  and I could concentrate on directing the talent. I had to pan the light slightly toward the camera to achieve a natural look and mimic how I visualised the sunlight falling on the couple.

Camera Settings

  • Canon EOS R (handheld)
  • Canon EF 50mm ƒ/1.4
ISO 320, ƒ/3.5, 1/2500 sec The manual exposure was based upon a TTL reading of -2 stops as the key part of the scene is against a dark area and the camera would have over exposed making the area too bright
  • White Balance Daylight


The Cabin

On the surface this looks like a straight forward image, logistically not. First of all I knew the shot I wanted, camera position, lens focal length, tripod etc and approximate time of day. I did have to test before the actual shoot whether or not the Pixapro ST-IV controller had the range to trigger the two PIKA200 flashes positioned in the cabin.




I worked close the the extreme range of the ST-IV controller and had to take into account that the cabin is heavily insulated. The insulation has a aluminium or similar coating which created what is in effect a Friday Cage. This meant that positioning of the PIKA200 flashes was critical - they needed to be close to line of sight yet out of view.



Ambient exposure, no flash. Straight out of camera

This was one of the few occasions I decided to work with an assistant. It was a five minute walk each way from the camera position to the cabin with rapidly changing light. Josh who was assisting had one of two walkie talkies to enable quick communication.



Before I went to my predetermined camera position, Josh and I positioned the PIKA200 flashes roughly where they should be. This meant thinking about what the camera would “see” and positioning the lights so the flash reflected of the objects and surfaces toward the camera position.


Each PIKA200 was fitted with a 48cm folding octa, deflector, ½ CTO LEE Filters 205 and 430 Grid Cloth for diffusion. There are time I use Grid Cloth (which is in effect RipStop nylon) instead of the front diffuser on soft boxes as it can be layered to increase the diffusion effect.

Once the lights were set and I reached the camera position, we had no more than ten minutes to complete the shoot before we lost the light and the weather changed.

Camera Settings

  • Canon EOS R (tripod)
  • Canon 24-105mm ƒ/4 IS L
ISO 160, ƒ/8, 1/30 sec
  • Manual exposure on the camera and the PIKA200 flashes TTL
  • White Balance Daylight with grading in post-production





Flash Equipment List

 

48cm Octa
https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/product/pixapro-48cm-foldable-octagonal-softbox-for-hybrid360/

PIKA200 (Godox AD200)
https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/product/pixapro-pika200-portable-battery-powered-ttl-mini-flash/



60cm Octa
https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/product/pixapro-60cm-collapsible-portable-silver-beauty-dish-s-type/



CITI400PRO TTL (Godox Wistro AD400 PRO)
https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/product/pixapro-citi400-pro-ttl-battery-powered-flash/

Light stand for CITI400
https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/product/pixapro-heavy-duty-portable-foldable-light-stand-220cm/



Light stand for PIKA200

Phottix Padat 190 carbon fibre. I use these with my PIKA200 flash as they have a lower folded profile than the Pixapro 220cm folding light stand and weigh a measly 600g, compared to 1200g or more for the Pixapro 220cm folding light stand. You do pay the price, literally! They sell for about £130 each and have a maximum load of 1.5kg
https://www.theflashcentre.co/phottix_padat_carbon_fibre_compact_light_stand_198cm_78_inch.html



ST-IV Flash Trigger Controller (Godox XPRO)
https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/product/pixapro-pro-st-iv-2-point-4ghz-flash-transmitter/


LEE Filters lighting gels
https://leefiltersdirect.com/collections/lighting/products/master-location-pack


C47 Clothes Pegs

Any reputable hardware store or supermarket

Amateur Photographer Magazine
https://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/about

The Location, Ditchling Cabin
https://www.ditchlingcabin.com/

I offer one to one training for selected photographers and bespoke training for businesses who need to keep their photography in-house. Feel free to contact me to discuss your requirements.

Keep safe and remember your health is important in these strange times.



 


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