Mixing three different lightning systems together. Profoto Air, Pocket Wizard and Canon optical sync.

15 05 2013

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Hey everybody!

Today I thought I might share a great thing I finally made work yesterday. I’ve tried this a few times before and either it didn’t work of it was unreliable. However, I thought of something different yesterday and it worked just fine. It is also very reliable. I was able to sync a flash triggered by Profoto Air system, another one triggered by Pocket Wizard and finally, I was also able to triggered speedlites with Canon proprietary optical line of sight triggering. All this in sync!!

First, I tried to put the Pocket Wizard TT1 in the hot shoe of the camera and the master flash, a 600EX-RT, in the hot shoe of the Pocket Wizard TT1. That’s the scenario in which I had unreliable results. I then had an idea to put the Pocket Wizard TT1 in a separate hot shoe triggered via a PC cord plugged in the PC Sync port of the 5D Mark III, and then I put the 600EX-RT in the hot shoe of the camera where it belongs. Magic!!! everything fired in sync. I even have TTL with the speedlites!

This setup let me with another option. The hot shoe of the Pocket Wizard TT1 was still unused! That’s why I slide the Profoto Air Remote in it. Magic again!!! Three very different systems, all working together even if they weren’t design to do so!

I’ll try to shoot something worth showing and I’ll come back with some exemples.

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Powering a Canon 5D Mark III with a Vagabond mini!!

3 10 2012

Over the last year, I’ve worked on a few projects as a DP for my friend Chris. Over that year I have acquired a lot of knowledge in video production, which I had never done before.

One thing that I realized is that power comsuption is very high in video mode for all HDSLR ( obviously). That means that you have to change batteries about three times on a normal shoot day. That also means that you have one more thing to worry about on a already over busy day. There are a few solutions out there to take care of that problem, but they often involve a lot of money:

You can buy a battery grip for your camera.
There are very nice but very pricey solutions from Anton Bauer.
Etc
Or…

You can buy an ACK E6 adapter from Canon and a Vagabond mini from Paul C buff and you have a very nice and acfordable battery solution for your HDSLR (around 350$ CAD).
It can be a little bulky, but you now have the opportunity to plug another device in the mini (let’s say a monitor) since you have two sockets.

With only the 5D plugged in, I’ve never depleted the battery more than a 1/3 of it’s power for a total of 4.5 hours of footage (on and off). Pretty impressive!!

And if you’re a photographer, it will double as an awesome battery solution for your strobes, or a great source of power for timelapse photography.

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Astonishing 5D Mark III

30 07 2012

Hey all,

I got my Canon 5D Mark III back in March in the first pre-order batch and I’ve been amazed ever since I started using it. I’ve always held back on the 5D Mark II because of its lack of speed. I used to shoot a 1D Mark IIN. So last summer, knowing that a Mark II replacement was coming, I bought a 7D to keep me waiting. I must say that the body feels pretty good and it is a very nice camera for speed work and video also. However, I was never satisfied with the image quality of this camera. Above all, I discovered recently that it front focused!!.

So here comes the 5D Mark III! What a perfect camera for my needs. It is small (compared to a 1D series body), fast (relatively), the IQ is awesome (especially with some lenses) and the high ISO is just insane (really!!!).

Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 35L f1.4 ISO 8000

I did a wedding early July. As there is still no support for the 5D Mark III within the Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 and Mini TT1 (as of July 2012), I decided to go completely available light, knowing that the Mark III did awesome in earlier events that I did. As you can Imagine, the reception room was pretty low in available light. I had with me the Canons 35L 1.4 and the 85L 1.2, but I wanted a fast shutter speed (who doesn’t?). To be comfortable, I pushed the ISO up to 8000 !!! Really, 8000! Whoever tried that on a Mark IIN or a 7D know what I’m talking about! This high ISO is just impossible to use on these two camera and I guess it is the same for the 5D Mark II. But with this new baby, it is not only possible, but remarkably good for events (I wouldn’t shoot stock at ISO 8000!) Add a little noise reduction in Lightroom 4 (about 30) and the file looks really nice.

Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 35L f1.4 ISO 8000

I’m glad I didn’t used flashes at the reception, because it would have killed most of the nice pinkish bluish ambiance. Here are three photos taken during the dinner/party at ISO 8000 so you can judge for yourself.

Thanks!

Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 35L f1.4 ISO 8000

Thanks for reading. You can find my images on my iStockphoto portfolio by cliking on the banner below.





One strobe and the new Canon 5D Mark III

16 04 2012


Hey,

Last week-end, I went to my parent’s for the easter holiday. I know a really cool place there where I used to go bouldering when I was in high school. I knew it would be a perfect spot to do a few trail running photos. It would also be a very good opportunity to test my brand new Canon 5D Mark III in a real shooting situation.

My lovely light stand😉

So I brought with me the 5D III, a few lenses and my Profoto AcuteB2 AirS kit with a 60 inch shoot thru umbrella. This is the exact same setup that in this other post, but the umbrella is bigger and it made a big difference in the final images. How? because it lit the entire scene, thanks to the very wide beam spread of the shoot thru umbrella. Here’s a good example in the next photo. The trees and the subject all  received the light they needed and were adjusted in post.


Even if the 5D Mark III has a maximum sync speed of 1/200 sec and the flash duration of the Profoto Acute B2 is not short enough to ”catch” a runner. I think it did a very good job showing just enough motion to be great.

I used a combination of Pocket Wizard Mini tt1, Flex tt5 and Profoto Air sync trigger. The Pocket Wizard were used to trigger the camera while the Profoto Air Sync fired the flash. (I was the runner, so I had to use a remote solution).

In this case, the ambiant was about 2 stops under the main flash, giving just enough fill light to complete the shot.

In this photo, the ambiant was probably about 2/3 stops under.

Thanks for reading. You can find my images on my iStockphoto portfolio by cliking on the banner below.

www.profoto.com

www.Pocketwizard.com





Mixing Pocket Wizard and Profoto Air sync

21 02 2012

So, here’s the question I think a lot of people are asking. Could it be possible to mix strobes fired by Pocket Wizard devices along with others fired by Profoto proprietary Air Sync radio system in a studio setup? I was VERY glad to find out last week that yes, it is totally possible. However, if this kind of setup appeals to you, read on to be sure you fully understand how to succesfully mix both system.
First of all, it is very important to understand that a Pocket Wizard radio cannot trigger a Air Sync radio and vice versa, simply because they don’t transmit on the same frequency. So let’s say you have a Pocket Wizard Plus II on your camera and you want to trigger a Profoto acute b2 equiped With Air Sync, it’s not going to work.
The way to make everything work together is to have both systems in parallel at the same time. Let me explain.
To do this, you will need at least a pocket wizard transmitter and one receiver and one Profoto tranciever (Air Sync or Air Remote) and one receiver.
The simplest setup would be to slide the Profoto tranciever into the hot shoe of a Mini TT1 or Flex TT5 and then slide that combo into the hot shoe of your camera.

That way, the pocket wizard will relay the signal to the Profoto tranciever just like it does when there’s a speedlite instead of the Profoto. You can now fire your two systems at the same time without delay. Pretty cool don’t you think? It eliminates the need to attached another PW to your already radio compatible Profoto.

You can see my images here:





Lifestyle shot with one flash

11 02 2012

Hey,

Two weeks ago, I decided to bring some gear outside to try something I had on my mind for quite some time. There’s a great demand right now for lifestyle images that look natural. By natural, you need to understand that buyers don’t want to feel the flashes in the photographs. I put feel in bold because natural looking images don’t necessarily means natural light. It is ok (and essential in my opinion) to use flash in most shoots to be able to control your images.

Knowing that, I started to think of a way to create technically great images with flashes in a natural way. I started thinking of a way to get a very diffuse light as a starting point. The best tool I could come up with was the shoot thru umbrella. It gives a very soft light and is all over the place. That should do it for my main/fill light. I also wanted a kicker light to give depth to the images. As I wanted to go light on this shoot, I decided to use the cheapest light that I have, the sun. That’s it. One light setup and I was good to go.

For this shoot, I wanted to use very shallow depth of field with my 50mm F/1.4 and I wanted a nice background. I found a spot fairly close to the parking lot, so I didn’t have to carry all the gear to far.

I began with a reading of the available light and adjusted it at about 1/400 sec @ F/2 (I used a polarizing filter to bring the shutter speed down by two stop) I already knew that my camera was able to sync to the Profoto Acute B2 at 1/400sec without too much banding. I then adjust the Acute B2 to match my F/2 aperture. It was easy enough because the pack can go down to 9 watts. Combined with the shoot thru umbrella and a small distance, it was perfect.

I used myself as a model because it was easier. That means I needed a way to trigger the camera. I used two pocketwizards, one on the camera and one in my hand. With the autofocus on, that worked  pretty well. To trigger the flash, I decided to use a traditional sync cord because I felt it was more reliable than the auto relay mode of the pocketwizards and also because my other TT5 radio have some issues right now.

You can see the approximate setup in the following pictures (except for the pocketwizard).

As it was winter, I used the second setup to be sure to protect the head and the pack if the snow started to fall of simply to protect from snow that fall from trees. You’re never to  careful when you use expensive gear. You can also see that I used a hook to hold the pack. That way, it prevents to carry sand bags and it also helps a lot with the radios when they’re used. Pocketwizards don’t like to be close to the ground. Also, when it is possible to carry a c-stand instead of a normal tripod, this is the best thing to do, especially on the snow. Normal tripods have a hard time with packed snow and it is difficult to have a solid base because of the swing in the tripod legs.

So, finally, here are a few of the images. You can see the rest on my iStockphoto portfolio at:

Thanks for reading!

 





As simple as it can be

11 02 2012

Hey,

Last week I decided to bring my gear with me at a xc ski training. After the (tough) training, I grabbed a friend and his girlfriend and brought them near the lake to do a quick, run & gun style stock shooting.

In winter, it is always difficult for the photographer to keep the model active. You don’t want them to freeze by not moving, so you have to work quickly. A great way to do this is to let the flashes home and work only with natural light. It is tough to let it go (the flashes) but it also feel liberating to carry only a a camera and a few lenses. You just need to choose the exposure carefully and you’re good to go.

In this particular shoot, it wasn’t the best time of day to use natural light (noon), but if you expose for the skin tones, it give the shot a very stockish look because of the slightly overexposed background.  You only have to work the shadows a little bit in Lightroom and you’re good.

Overall, it took about 20 to 30 minutes to get 9 great shots. I first did a few portraits, then some lifestyle shots and finally some action shots. The great thing with natural light is that your shutter speed and frame rate are not a limitation anymore. I was able to work at 8fps and 1/1250 sec. Reminded me when I was shooting sports for an agency and about 1000 to 2000 images a day🙂 I used a Canon 7D with a 17-40mm F/4, a 50mm F/1.4 and a 70-200mm F/2.8 IS.

Finally, I must that I used a speedlight on my camera to fill the shadows a little bit, but it wasn’t powerful enough, so the difference between shots with flash and without flash is not visible.

Here are a few of the images. You can see the rest on iStockphoto at my personal page:

One last thing. If you ever shoot cross-country skiing, try as hard as you can to find skis that are not Fischer. As much as I liked those skis to actually «ski», they are horrible when you need to remove logos and brand. (But they are amazingly good on the snow :))

Thanks!