Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Photoshoot: J&C Pre-Wedding

It has been such a hectic and busy time lately... but having a pre-wedding shoot was a nice change in a busy work schedule. My friend Yap asked if I could join him and another friend to do a pre-wedding shoot, and I gladly agreed... and we turned a small Nonya restaurant along East Coast Road into a tiny photo studio.

After arriving, we checked out the place, and the place was filled with tables and pretty cramped... so I decided to clear a section of their dining area at the 2nd floor. We shifted the tables and had a section nearest to the window. We set up the lights and were ready to go!

In the portrait orientation picture, I used two lights. Because the windows on the picture left provided a strong light from the outside (it was already about noon time), I had to balance that light with a light on the picture right with a bounced umbrella.

Before shooting, I noiced that the half-height wall below the windows on the left gave a shadow and the forground nearest to the window was pretty dark. A light was then placed on the ground near the window on the left and bounced off a silver reflector to open up the shadows... and the end result is the picture you see.

The landscape orientation picture was using only one light to light the bride. You can see the rest of the pre-wedding shoot pictures here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Product shoot: Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G Fisheye Lens

Just bought myself a 2nd hand Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G Fisheye lens... so, why not do a product shoot, right?

This time round, I wanted to go with 2 lights, one from above, and the other from the front. I used the Manfrotto 190XPROB to extend the arm horizontally and mounted a flash on it. I covered the top of my home made light tent with a white satin cloth bought at People's Park some time back. The other light was in front and I used a softbox to diffuse the light.

Now comes the hard decision, which camera should I use?

Hehe... I have a thing in me at this time to try and push the Panasonic LX3 as much as I can and try to produce pictures to something that one would expect would come from a DSLR... so the LX3 it is!

Needless to say, the lighting makes the pictures from the LX3 all the more stunning. I set the ISO to the minimum of 80, fixed the aperture at f/5.6 and shutter speed at 1/60 and off I went. The light above was at 1/16 power and the light infront at 1/32 power.

After using the LX3 more, I've discovered that their redition of yellow is a bit too orangy, and I needed to adjust the hue towards more of a yellow tone. The golden lettering on the lens was not so golden out of camera, but after shifting the hue, it looked much better.

Friday, August 7, 2009

PT04 version 3 Wireless Flash Trigger

The PT04 is an OEM product from China and is marketed as various brands, but it is still the same thing.

Recently, I saw Artworkphoto selling a new version of the PT04, version 3, and it has a very good design to it, as you can see in the picture. By making the device flatter, the flash that sits on it would not be farther from the center of an umbrella. They have also placed a simple umbrella holder at the side, which now opens up new possibilities.

I personally like this design, but is still unsure of the reliability. I used to have a pair of them and they were not very reliable. I wonder if this new version would be improved.

Here is the link to Artworkphoto's page of the PT04 III.

Nissin Di866 Pro Flash

Nissin has been quite aggressive with their flashes these days, and a new one just came on the market, the Di866 Pro. From the looks of it, it has all the makings of a flash that strobist would use.

This is a link to their Japanese website, and here is the Google translated version.

From what I can tell, it is a powerful flash. The guide number is 40 @ ISO100 and 35mm. This is more powerful than the Nikon SB800 or SB900. It has a PC sync port, manual power adjustments to 1/128, and even Nikon CLS. From the manual, it can be a CLS master. This is one flash that is trying to take the place of the SB900.

At the time of this writing, RedDotPhoto is selling it at $410, which is a really good price if it works as it should and if the flash output is consistent and reliable. Here is a link to the quick manual and here is a link to the full manual.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Strobist using Panasonic LX3

My wife wanted me to take a picture of a wallet which she intends to sell. She had a friend buy it from the States, but was not the exact model she was looking for... it's a Coach wallet btw...

I thought to myself... why not try out the LX3 with PocketWizards and see how it performs... so I set up my gear and this is the first time I'm trying this out with the LX3. It turned out to be no problem at all!

This picture was taken with 2 flashes. (1) Flash outside a home-made light tent on the right placed behind the wallet. (2) Flash in a softbox on the front right of the wallet.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Photoshoot: Z2H6 Band 'Six Men Stand'

Yesterday was the second photoshoot for the Z2H6 participants, and we had 3 groups to shoot. I was mainly focusing on doing the group shots, and here is a picture of the band 'Six Men Stand'... and they were indeed standing! :)

I was using 2 speedlights with 2 bounce umbrellas, one to my left and the other to my right. The one on the left was held higher up and angled downwards so as to be able to reach the person further back.

As all light stands and umbrellas, my fell while shooting the band 'Chasing Shadows' and the umbrella got "injured" in the process. Oh well... got to go buy some more umbrellas then...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Photoshoot: Z2H6 Band 'Beyond Saving'

Went out yesterday to Punggol again... but this time to shoot the Z2H6 bands. It was raining much worse yesterday, and once again, we could not shoot at the water's edge... so, the wet weather contingency kicked in, and we went to shoot under an LRT (Light Rail Transit) track.

I decided to try something new, so I placed a full CTO gel on the flash, and placed it in a reflective umbrella... adjusted my white balance on the camera to about 3050K and took the shot. I wanted to create a background that is more blueish and kind of surreal.

Here is a picture of a shot I took of the drummer from the band 'Beyond Saving'. Kind of like the bluish tinge in the background while maintaining the proper skin tones.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Photoshoot: Z2H6 Instructors

Went to shoot the Zero to Hero season 6 instructors yesterday, and once again, it was a learning experience. When we arrived at Punggol, it was raining. We thought we had to cancel the shoot, but looking at the sky, it did not look so threatening... so we waited. At 5pm, the rain stopped! Hallelujah!

The initial location we wanted to shoot was near the pier and waters edge, but my friend James found another location, so we all went there to shoot. I took the group shots first, thinking that I wanted to have the sun as part of my background... only to discover that my off-camera flashes were not exactly powerful enough to overpower the background sun... but as the sun began to set, it got better.

Hmmm... is it time to get the Alien Bees?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Product shoot: Panasonic Lumix LX3

Decided to do a simple product shoot for my new toy... the Panasonic Lumix LX3. I've been reading great reviews of this compact camera, and up to now, it has not disappointed. It can go fully manual, with a 24-60mm f/2.0-2.8 lens (135mm equivalent), it is a great compact camera to use in low light. I've not used the LX3 to do any strobist stuff as yet, but will give it a go when I have time.

This shot was taken from a home made light tent. My home made light tent uses white cloth on each side to diffuse the light. There is a flash placed on each side of the light tent and one more in front with a softbox to diffuse the light.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Photoshoot: Z2H Alumni

I did a simple shoot in May 09 for the Zero to Hero Alumni. They wanted to get some photos to use, so out came my equipment!

It was a very simple set up with 2 lights. The light on the right is using the Westcott Apollo 28" softbox, and the light on the left is with a home made snoot or a softbox umbrella (depending on how defined I want the light to be). One light is great, but having 2 lights give more separation between the person and the dark background.

The light with the Westcott was placed higher up and angled around 45 degrees downward, and this also acts like a hairlight, thus eliminating the need for a 3rd light. Simple set up with 2 lights.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Pocket Wizards for Nikon by end-June 2009

Pocket Wizard produced 2 new models, the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5. The Canon version is already in the market, and Nikon users are awaiting the Nikon compatible ones to be released by end-June 2009. One of the main features of these new PWs is the ability to use eTTL (for Canon) and iTTL (for Nikon). This would also mean that (Focal-Plane) FP Sync is possible, and speeds up to 1/8000s would be available to the photographer.

The new PWs are compatible with previous PWs, and adds a feature where the shutter speed can be increased up to 1/500s, called HyperSync. You can watch the following video on the new PWs below, or at YouTube here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Comparing Guide Numbers for Strobes

The guide number (GN) for a strobe light tells us the ability of the strobe to light the subject based on the ISO and angle of view. So, just by comparing GN from one flash to another is not enough. You would also need to compare the ISO and angle of view that they have measured from. Because of this, strobe manufacturers can publish that they have a high GN, but if you do not see the ISO and angle of view at which they measured it, you could be fooled by their marketing scheme.

Take for example...

Nikon SB-80DX - GN 38m (ISO 100, 35mm)
Nissin Di622 - GN 44m (ISO 100, 105mm)

At first look, you would think that the Nissin Di622 is more powerful than the Nikon SB-80DX. But at 105mm, the GN for the Nikon SB-80DX is 56m. Hence, the Nikon SB-80DX is actually a more powerful flash than the Nissin Di622.

The GN for the Nikon SB-80DX speedlight are as follows with reference to the angle of view...

14mm - 17m
17mm - 19m
24mm - 32m
28mm - 34m
35mm - 38m
50mm - 44m
70mm - 50m
85mm - 53m
105mm - 56m

To understand more about GN, you can refer to Wikipedia's Guide Number or Flash Guide Numbers by Dennis Curtin.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shoot-Through Umbrella vs. Softbox

What is the difference between a shoot-through umbrella and a softbox? Zack Arias explains it in his blog and the following 2 pictures were taken from it. Have a read at this great article here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Apollo has landed!

The Apollo has landed!

After much deliberation, I decided to order a Westcott Apollo 28" Speedlight Set from B&H. James was ordering a number of stuff from there... so I tagged along on his order, and he also ordered one for himself.

At US$119.95 + shipping, this does not come cheap. The speedlight set comes with a hotshoe umbrella adaptor. It has the same internal concept as the umbrella softbox, but the advantage is not only the size, but it has a recessed front to control the spread of the light.

I shot a few shots at a low 1/128 power on the Nikon SB-80DX, and the light that came out was even throughout the white area. Comparing to the umbrella softbox, the Apollo gives a more even distribution of light. This is likely because of the larger volume interally where the speedlight can be placed further from the silver reflective area, and also a larger area for light to bounce internally.

I particularly like the design where there is a cross zipper area to accomodate for the lightstand to go through into the softbox. The volume inside the softbox is large enough to contain a monobloc light.

Here are 2 pictures of the Apollo Speedlight Set, the first showing the internal construction and how the speedlight is mounted, and the second is the external showing the recessed front.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rocky & Juana's Pre-Wedding Photoshoot

I have not been blogging here for awhile, and one of the reasons is that I've got a hold of a copy of The Hot Shoe Dairies and am reading it! The other reason is not that cheery... and it is that I've been sick for more than a week. Despite being sick, I wanted to go do some shooting, so I tagged along as my friend James did a photoshoot for Rocky & Juana.

It was certainly not a good day for me to shoot. I realized that because of my flu, my brain was half-dead and somehow did not shoot well nor liked what I shot. This really set me thinking... should a photographer shoot well only when he is inspired? I believe photographers have bad days, and sick days, but if they are contracted to do a shoot, should they not be able to produce even if they did not feel like 100%?

This made me realize that every photographer must get as much in his "bag of tricks" that whether it was a good day or not, he should be able to produce a minimum standard in his shots... and getting the "bag of tricks" is something I had to work at. I must say that this is the worst shooting day I've had so far... but it is spurring me on to get my "bag of tricks" for the future!

Oh... by the way... the above shot was done with 2 strobes... one at the far end with a Gary Fong Lightsphere to light that area, and the other is on the camera left with a softbox umbrella to light Rocky and Juana.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Digital Photography One on One by Mark Wallace

Mark Wallace has a series of videos on YouTube on digital photography... more specifically... flash photography with digital cameras.

This is a good tutorial to learn more about flash photography. You can watch episode 1 below... or you can click here to view the series of videos on YouTube.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What can you do with ONE speedlight?

I've come to see that you can do more and more with just one speedlight. I just watched the OneLight Workshop by Zack Arias, and it is wonderful what one light can do. I am still developing how to shoot with off-camera flashes, and am understanding that when shooting portraits, the one main light is key, and additional lights would add on to enhance the shot, e.g. kicker light, hair light, fill light, etc.

Well, here is another video with Joe McNally talking about some of the shots he made with only one speedlight, namely the Nikon SB-800.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lighting techniques - Rembrandt, Paramount, Split, Loop

After getting all the strobes, umbrellas, light stands, etc... one important question is, "Where do we place them?"

A lot of learning is by trial and error, but it sure helps if there are some diagrams to show us how to do it. In many photography books today, there are diagrams of where the lights are placed, where the camera is placed, and what kind of light modifiers are used.

Garage Glamor has a page on photographic tips, tricks & ideas... and in it are some basics on lighting techniques that can be learnt.

Rambrandt Lighting
Paramount Lighting
Split Lighting
Loop Lighting

Monday, March 16, 2009

Zero to Hero 5 Finals

I was shooting the Zero to Hero 5 Finals (15 Mar 09) with a few other photographers, and again I realized how my attitude towards flash photography has changed. I know I mentioned this before about how I used to dislike using flash, but now, I realized how important lighting is, and using the flash was crucial.

Well, here's a shot from the event, and you can have a look at the rest of them in my Flickr album here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Annie Leibovitz & Profoto Pro-8 Air: Behind the Scenes

Annie Leibovitz did a shoot of Profoto's Chairman and founder, Conny Dufgran in commemoration of Profoto's 40th anniversary. You can watch here or watch it on YouTube here.

Softbox - 50cm by 50cm

I bought a softbox from Alan Photo @ Funan a few days ago, and the person told me it was 50cm by 50cm. The white front area of the softbox measures 45cm by 45 cm (17 inches by 17 inches). It has a speedring with a shoe mount to fit a flash. Today, I went to TK Photo with Yapster, and I saw a Lastolite EzyBox Hotshoe that looked very much like the China made one I bought at Alan Photo. TK Photo was selling the Lastolite EzyBox Hotshoe for $300-$400 (they have 2 sizes), which includes a light stand... so the China made one was a real bargain!

Also, I just found out that TagoTech would be bringing the 60cm x 60cm one from April 2009. Here is a picture of their upcoming product...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

LumoPro LP120 Flash by Midwest

A new flash is on the way for the Strobist community, and it is the LumoPro LP120 shoe mount flash by Midwest Photo Exchange. There are stuff that you would need and not need in a off-camera strobist flash, and this one has what you need, e.g. sync terminal and optical slave, and does not have all the other features that you do not need, e.g. TTL.

Here are some links for more info on this flash:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Expressions: Keith and Lydia

I decided to so a simple series where by I get people to do different expressions with their faces, capturing them, and editing tem to become black and white photos, all in landscape orientation. It is just a fun thing to do. I asked Lydia if she would do it, and she agreed... and I asked Keith to help me during the shoot, and he agreed... and I ended up shooting both Lydia and Keith!

I was thinking of how to do this shoot, and I decided to use 3 strobes for it. I wanted to do a hair light, but I did not have any softbox for it, so during lunch time, I went down to Alan Photo at Funan to purchase a 50cm x 50cm softbox for $90. It comes with a speedring, and a speedlight mount. It is a made in China thing, but it did the job for hair lights.

I also used the umbrella softbox I bought recently to my left, and a bounce white umbrella with a silver inner lining to my right. Here are 2 shots from the shoot... and you can check out the rest of the shoot at the following links...

Expressions: Keith (11 Mar 09)
Expressions: Lydia (11 Mar 09)
Keith and Lydia (11 Mar 09)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

ProPhotoLife by Jim Talkington

ProPhotoLife by Jim Talkington is a great blog to visit. What I find is really great is the videos that teaches you from a DIY studio set up, to understanding different forms of lighting, and techniques in lighting. Nothing beats learning how to light than by seeing the positioning of the lighting equipment, and the results from the pictures taken.

To go to the ProPhotoLife video library, click here, or go to the YouTube one here. Below is Episode 12 on Quality of Light.

Monday, March 9, 2009

DIY Grid Snoot

I DIYed a grid snoot, and here's what I bought at Popular bookstore...

1. Black cloth tape (36mm x 12Y) = $3.20
2. Black corrugated board (20x15) = $1.60
3. Black paper = $1.70

Here's the end result...

The grid snoot is done so that the internal grid section can be removed, and the grid snoot would then become a snoot.

Here's a picture of the grid snoot at work. The grid snoot was used to focus the light on the subject at the "heart" area.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

DIY Beauty Dish by David Tejada

I came across this site on a DIY project to make a beauty dish for an SB-800 speedlight. Maybe I'll try it out sometime when I have the time, and more importantly, when I can find the relevant materials to make it.

Anyway, the link to the website is here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Online Photography Books on Lighting

While I was surfing the internet for photography books, I realized that Google has an online books section. Even though some do not have the whole book, the preview pages are already really good! I'm so glad to have found this Google books site.

Doing a simple search, here are some links to photography books with limited previews...

Beginner's Guide to Photographic Lighting by Don Marr

Light: Science and Magic - An Introduction to Photographic Lighting by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver, and Paul Fuqua

Lighting for People Photography by Stephen Crain

Lighting for Portraits by Steve Bavister

Lighting Photo Workshop by Chris Bucher

Lighting Techniques for Fashion and Glamor Photography by Stephen A. Dantzig

Lighting Techniques for High Key Portrait Photography by Normal Phillips

Photographic Lighting by John Child and Mark Galer

Photographic Lighting: Essential Skills by John Child and Mark Galer

Photographic Lighting Simplified by Susan McCartney

Portrait Photography: The Art of Seeing Light by Don Blair and Peter Skinner

Portrait Photography: Secrets of Posing & Lighting by Mark Cleghorn

Posing and Lighting Techniques for Studio Portrait Photography by J. J. Allen

The Best of Photographic Lighting by Bill Hunter

Wedding Photography: Creative Techniques for Posing, Lighting, and Marketing by Rick Ferro

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Umbrella Softbox

I have been looking to get a softbox for my speedlight, but what is available in Singapore are "traditional" softboxes made for monolight strobes. After some searching, I found this umbrella softbox from TagoTech and bought it.

The built of this umbrella softbox is decent. The external of the softbox is black, and the internal is silver. The portion where I put the head of the speedlight into the softbox has a zipper and a pull-string to tighten the opening (I believe the large opening is to cater to mono strobes). The speedlight would fire into the silver part of the umbrella, and reflected back and through the translucent white part.

Will give this umbrella softbox a go the next opportunity I get to shoot portraits.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Portrait of Jayne

Went shooting with Yapster and his friend Jayne last year at the Chinese Garden, and took some portraits of Jayne. This was the 1st time going shooting with Yapster, and he's a great guy! We brought our gears and lugged it around Chinese Garden... and at the end, we decided that the next time we go shoot, we'll share our equipment so individually, we don't have to bring so many things along.

In this shot of Jayne, the sun was shining from the picture left. A silver reflective umbrella flash was used on the picture right and a shoot through umbrella flash from the lower front of the subject. I was using my 85mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.8 for this shot. I love that lens!

We realized that shooting alone is not easy with strobbing gear, and having an assistant was almost an essential thing to have. So, when Yap tooks the shots, I assisted him, and when I took the shots, he assisted me. I also realized that having someone who knows his stuff to assist really makes a difference as there is already a common understanding of lighting. I took a few steps back in one of our shots and captured this picture of our set up at that particular location.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Preview - The Hot Shoe Dairies: Big Light from Small Flashes

Finally, Joe McNally has completed writing Hot Show Dairies and is due to hit stores in the States on 12 March 2009.  Joe is one of the best at using multiple speedlights to enhance a picture that he is taking.

I can't wait to get my hands on this book... but alas... I have to wait... and hope that it would hit the shores of Singapore soon after the launch in the States. Amazon has them for pre-order now.

I found an excerpt of the book and based on the content page, it is gonna be a great book to learn from. You can check out the excerpt here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Group Photo of 70 people

How do you take a group photo of about 70 people in a night environment? How much lighting do you need to get it done?

I was thinking of how to shoot this group shot, and in the end, I used 4 strobes at 1/2 power each to achieve this shot. A wide angle lens was used (12mm @ ISO640 + f/8 + 1/125s), and I was in an elevated position shooting downwards. There was one strobe at each side of where I was standing, with a silver+white reflective umbrella. On the photo left, the white wall was used as a light bounce, so a flash was shot at the wall. On the photo right, another strobe with a reflective umbrella was used. The silver reflective umbrellas give a nice contrasty look to the photo.

The final result is what you see, and I was quite pleased with the results... but there are still some shadow areas cast on a few faces. I could have placed a 3rd strobe in the front, but aiming it further towards the back, or shifted the side strobes higher. Anyway... you can see the rest of the group photos here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Annie Leibovitz at Work

After watching a documentary on Annie Leibovitz (Life Through a Lens) on my flight from Singapore to New York some months back, I was not only inspired, but I think she is one of the best photographers today. When she released her book Annie Leibovitz at Work, I dropped by Riceball Photography Bookstore to grab it, and it was a good and easy read. It is like sitting with Annie hearing her recount the different phases of her life and the people she had met and take photographs of. It is totally non-technical, but it gets into the heart and mind of one of the greatest photographers, and how she views her role in capturing life. In fact, it goes beyond anything a technical book on photography can teach you about, and helps you see life in a new perspective, and how as a photographer, you can capture an image of that part of your life.

Right at the end of the book, there is a section where Annie talks about equipment, and it can be summed up in her words, "Digital gives a more honest view of how things actually look, and with the advent of all these possibilities, I still want the pictures to look like they're real. Whatever camera helps me do that is the camera I'm going to use. I'm not nostalgic about cameras. When I talk about how important the camera is to me, I mean the idea of the camera. What photography does. I'm not into it because of the equipment, and I'm not concerned with the things that concern more technically acute people. I want to use whatever helps me take a picture in all kinds of light with faster speed and fewer problems. I changed my 35mm digital camera four times in one year. As soon as I hear there's a better one out, I'll try it." (page 207) There is also a section entitled "Ten Most-Asked Questions" where she gives her views on them. The 10 questions are:

1. What advice do you have for a young photographer who is just starting out?
2. What is your favorite photograph?
3. Who's the most difficult person you've ever photographed?
4. How many pictures do you take?
5. Are you happy with the move from film to digital?
6. How is photographing a celebrity different from photographing a regular person?
7. Where do you get your ideas?
8. When do you know you have a good picture?
9. How much direction do you give?
10. How do you set people at ease and get them to do the things that they do in your pictures?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Softbox for Speedlights

My friend Ian was using a Westcott Apollo softbox with his Alien Bees during a recent shoot, and I must say, I like the Westcott Softbox. It is different from other softboxes I've seen in Singapore, and for this one, you don't need a speedring and you can either do it shoot through or bounce off the reflective back of the softbox.

Sad to say, I can't find them in Singapore. Ian ordered his from B&H, and after doing some searching, I like what I see with the Westcott Apollo Speedlight Set.

Julia Greer also wrote a great article on How To Use Your Nikon SB-800 Flash With Softboxes, and in it, she also mentioned the Westcott Apollos.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Where can I buy my basic strobbing gear in Singapore?

After using off-camera flash for awhile, it is sad to say that at this time, there aren't a lot of places to get the gear in Singapore, and even if there is, it is very limited in variety. For that reason, I have been looking at buying from places like B&H, Adorama or Amazon.

However, if you are just starting out, there are a few places to check out. I would strongly suggest that you do some homework and research because similar products can be sold at very different prices.

Here are some places to check out (in alphabetical order):

Cathay Photo @ Peninsular
Ruby Photo @ Peninsular
TagoTech (online orders)
The Studio Outfitters (online orders)

Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS)

Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) allows a photographer to control remote flashes wirelessly via infra-red signals. CLS also allows the photographer to centrally control the settings of each group of flashes from the commander.

The following are cameras that have the built-in commander - D70/s, D80, D90, D200, D300, D700. The D50, D40/x and D60 does not have the commander mode built into the camera. Nikon flashes SB-800 and SB-900 also have the commander built into the flash. Oh... the pro range of Nikons (e.g. D3, D3x) also do not have a built-in commander because it does not have a pop-up flash to send the pre-flash signals. In anycase, if you can afford the pro range of cameras, what's a SU-800 to you? The SU-800 is a device that is built specifically to be the commander.

For a camera with the built-in commander mode, it is via the pop-up flash that the infra-red signals are sent to the remote flashes. However, the pre-flash that sends out these signals are often captured as a light source, and Nikon made the SG-3IR to block the light but still allow the IR communication to happen.

There are some pros and cons to the CLS.

- Once you have the commander (esp. for those in-built with the camera), you can control your CLS flashes remotely.
- You do not need to buy additional devices to remotely trigger your CLS flashes.
- You are able to use TTL with remote CLS flashes.

- Line of sight between the commander and the remote CLS flashes is necessary.
- In outdoors environment, esp. under strong lighting, the communication between the commander and the remote flashes would be compromised.

The current line up of CLS enabled flashes are: SB-600, SB-800, SB900.

If you are able to get your hands on the DVD "Nikon School: A Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting"... watch it! It features Joe McNally and Bob Krist teaching about lighting and also on how to use the Nikon CLS. The 2nd part of the DVD takes you to watch Joe McNally live in action on location shoots.

You can watch a trailer of this DVD here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

DIY Flash Diffuser - A Step-by-step Guide

I like to DIY stuff, and in reality, there are many things we can DIY. I bought a Demb Flash Diffuser and looking at it, I believe it could be DIYed... so I went out in search of the stuff to do it... and here it is... a step-by-step guide...

Things to buy

1. Clips (Popular Bookstore - $2.15)

2. Velcro with adhesive side (Popular Bookstore - $2.70)

3. Card case B7 (Note: This is optional... You do not need to buy this and can just insert a card into the clip)

4. Elastic band

Putting it all together

A. Cut velcro to desired length and a short piece of elastic band.

B. Stick elastic band to the velcro

C. Completed velcro band with elastic (It is advisible if you can stitch it together with needle and thread so that it holds better and does not just rely on the sticky part of the velcro.)

D. Put white paper in the card case

E. Elastic band around the flash (I'm using a SB-600 here)

F. Place card case with paper into the clip (Note: You can place any bounce material that you desire into the clip)

G. SB600 with flash diffuser

H. Cut a piece of Ikea drawer lining and stick velcro on it.

I. Completed project

Here is a sample picture using the DIY flash diffuser...

Recently, a friend of mine bought a PRESSlite VerteX, and I was pretty impressed by it. This is one device that would be tough to DIY.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My flash does not have a sync terminal!

Oh no! My flash does not have a sync terminal! What can I do?

Well, the simplest way is to get a hotshoe adaptor with a sync terminal. You would mount your flash on the hotshoe adaptor and connecting the cable to the sync terminal of the hotshoe adaptor.

In the above picture, this hotshoe adaptor not only has a sync terminal, it also has an optical slave. This device cost about $20. The optical slave is also useful, and it is the cheap alternative to the Nikon SU-4 device (which cost about $180). When the optical slave optically detects that a flash has been fired, it would then trigger the flash mounted on the adaptor. With this device, you can also trigger your flash wirelessly, but what you need is line of sight between the flash that is being fired and the optical slave. In bright outdoors environment, the optical slave may not work very well.