Flash

Jess & Matt – Ready to Pop!

We received an emergency call last week… Jess was a day away from her due date, and she and Matt had been so busy with all the preparation, that they had completely forgotten to book a pregnancy session. Luck would have it that we didn’t have anything scheduled, so we packed up our gear and raced to Lynde Shores Conservation Area for an impromptu shoot and to take advantage of the beautiful golden hour light…

Jess & Matt - Pregnancy-4 Jess & Matt - Pregnancy-12 Jess & Matt - Pregnancy-15 Jess & Matt - Pregnancy-10Jess & Matt - Pregnancy-8

eSession – Anita & John

We spent a beautiful (albeit hot) afternoon at Cruickshank park in Toronto with Anita & John (and Hanna, too!). We hadn’t been there before, but had heard rumours of a path draped with massive weeping willows, so we decided to take a gamble… We think it paid off…

J&A - Engagement-1 J&A - Engagement-15 J&A - Engagement-13 J&A - Engagement-22 J&A - Engagement-17 J&A - Engagement-6

A Battery of Batteries

If you use a lot of flash in your photography, you no doubt go through batteries like a fiend. In my experience, rechargeable batteries are definitely the way to go, but I’ve heard a lot of photographers complain about recycle time. I’ve sworn by (and continue to swear by) Sanyo Eneloop batteries for my flashes (AA) and RadioPopper wireless triggers (AAA). Sanyo recently released a new high capacity version of these extremely popular batteries (especially among photographers), and while it may seem like a good idea to upgrade in order to increase the recycle time of your flashes, it does, as one would assume, come at a cost.

Comparison:

photo01 The original Eneloops have a capacity of 2000mAh, can be recharged up to 1500 times, will keep at least 75% of their charge when stored for up to 3 years and come at a cost of approx. $19.99 for a set of 4 AA’s ($29.99 with a charger.) This means that I don’t have to keep track of, and cycle, my batteries in order to maximize their power and lifespan. And when you have 12+ sets of AA’s and 8+ sets of AAA’s, this just makes life a heck of a lot less complicated.
photo03 The new Eneloop XX’s boast a 2500mAh capacity, but only have a lifespan of 500 charges, only hold up to 75% of their charge for 1 year, and come at a cost of approx. $29.99 for a set of 4 ($39.99 with a charger.) For some, the trade-off of lifespan for power might make sense, but unless you do a lot of shooting at full power, it might not be worth it for the average shooter.

Conclusion:

I might invest in a couple sets of Eneloop XX’s for shooting in situations like bright sunlight where full power is often a necessity, but for most shooting situations where less than 1/4 power already produces fast recycles, I see little need to sacrifice lifespan, durability and $$$.

Tips:

1) If you have a lot of batteries and have a hard time keeping track of which ones are charged and which are not, consider picking up a couple of small, different coloured camera bags (point & shoot style). You can often find last years bags in discount bins. Also consider getting a green one to indicate charged batteries and a red or black one for discharged batteries.

2) I also carry a compact battery tester in case I need to double check the charge on my batteries. You can find these on eBay or at your local hardware store and average about $5.

(Note: Ironically, as I was writing this, I took a break to check facebook and SLR Lounge had just posted an article comparing the flash recycle times of many of the top rechargables batteries. Take a look at number one. Go figure. http://www.slrlounge.com/best-rechargeable-aa-batteries-flash-photography)

Kids are Colourful

So why not use a splash of colour to enhance their portraits! In the images below, I used Honl Photo’s Speed Strap and coloured gels on a Nikon SB910 (with the wide angle diffuser pulled out) to add a pop of colour to the background. I chose colours that would accent their personalities, clothing and eye colour. The lighting setup was a simple 2 light arrangement. The main light was another SB910 in a 26″ Westcott Octagonal Rapid Box (with diffuser panel) to camera left and at a 45 degree angle. Both lights were triggered by a camera mounted SU800 and the RadioPopper PX system (no line of sight required).

The key with kids is to try and keep it fun. Let them make some funny faces in return for some genuine smiles. It might not always work, but when it does, the results can be great.

Eli

Ben

Fong on a Stick

I’ve been using this relatively simple little lighting setup while shooting on location for a while now and have suggested it to a couple photog friends. After trying it out, most of them come back singing its praises, so I figured I would pass it along here as well. This is an extremely easy way to add dimension and direction to your light, all the while diffusing it for a softer effect. I call it: Fong on a Stick!

Now, I know some people curse the dreaded “tupperware bowl” that is the Gary Fong Lightsphere, but there are also those who swear by it. I happen to fall somewhere in between. Is it the be-all answer for diffused lighting? Not even close! Do I like walking around an event with a big white bowl on top of my flash? Not at all! Do I like the results I get from it? Obviously. Otherwise why would I be walking around with this stupid thing on my flash?

The issue that most people have with the lightsphere is the cost ($70 for a plastic bowl, some velcro and a rubber band?!?!). I like to try and build my own “knockoff” of a product using inexpensive materials before laying out $50 or more, but this is one of those things that I wasn’t able to quite get right. The ridges inside the lightsphere serve to spread and diffuse the light in a way that I wasn’t able to replicate in my homemade attempts, so I ended up forking over the $$ to buy one. And it just so happens to be the lynchpin in the setup below. I guess that is stating the obvious… It would have been weird if I called it Fong on a Stick and then used an umbrella.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • External Flash
  • Gary Fong Lightsphere
  • Monopod
  • Wireless flash trigger or built-in flash capable of triggering an external flash
  • Small flash stand (if using built-in flash for triggering)

Simply thread the flash stand (pictured above) or wireless trigger to the monopod and attach your flash to it. Then mount the lightsphere on to your flash. Have an assistant hold the contraption and direct them as to where you want your light source to come from. If you don’t have someone available to hold the monopod, you could could always substitute it for a tripod (but that isn’t quite as versatile).

The end result is a magic light stick capable of all sorts of creative lighting. In fact, all of the images in this previous post – https://mnrdphoto.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/esession-michelle-george/ – were taken using this surprisingly flexible tool.

What’s luck got to do with it?

Sometimes, everything.

While in┬áThunder Bay this past weekend shooting a wedding, we were asked to do a last minute session for some clients to celebrate their daughter’s 1st birthday. The week had been quite chaotic, and we weren’t sure if we would be able to coordinate a time that worked for everyone. As luck would have it, we were able to squeeze in a hour to do a cake smash (or smashcake) on our last day in town. Boy are we glad we did. Not only did the session go smashingly (pun, pu-pun-pun, punnnn), but during the shoot, the ever-adorable Charlee took her first steps! And it was all caught on camera. Call it coincidence, call it fate, call it whatever you want… The chances of this happening are likely one in a million, and we were lucky to be there for it.

Charlee's First StepsNote: If you were subjected to what passed for music in the 80’s, chances are you get the reference in the title of this post. If you were born after the 80’s chances are you don’t get it, unless you inexplicably subject yourself to bad music.