Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's here!

Big box on the front porch when I got home tonight!  Camera and lens not included.  :)  do you have your "Ticket" # yet???  Only 3 days left!!!  Anyone can enter, do it today!!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Learn how to use the tools of the trade

Okay, why is it some photographers sound so proud when they tell me they never use flash?  Flash is not the tool of the devil, people.  It's a really handy photographers tool, if you consider yourself to be a professional photographer then you darn well better be able to bust out some light when needed.  It's a real dogfight out there these days and if you want to survive then you had better be able to use your tools.  I have several images in my portfolio that I used a flash or strobe and I'll bet you wouldn't be able to pick them out.  The light is subtle but essential.  If something looks "flashed" then you're doing it wrong.  You don't need to spend thousands on studio lights or monolights, most of my stuff is shot with shoe flashes, even the architectural stuff.
I had to shoot a mall in Houston, no real budget for an assistant, they could barely afford to hire me. :)  I flew out with all my gear as carry on, no time for the airlines to lose luggage, this was an in and out in one day job.  So I threw in a couple of shoe flashes and some off camera cords.  No light stands, no room. Most of the mall was fairly well lit and I was able to shoot ambient, but there was one shot that just didn't work, the guest services kiosk was too dark, no light near it and bright lights behind it.  I really wanted that shot, so I grabbed a flash and held it up and out.  Just enough to put some light on the front of the kiosk and balance the other lights.  I had the tools to do the job. It's one of my favorites from that day, I like the motion blur of the woman behind the desk.

I know, it's not sports, but I've written so many articles on why flash is essential for shooting fast moving sports at night or indoors.  I thought maybe an example of other uses might make my point. Learn to light!!!!  Here's a tutorial on using flash and lighting techniques.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Win a ThinkTank Speed Racer Beltpack!!!!

The good folks at ThinkTank are sending me a Speed Racer Beltpack to raffle off to my blog readers.  How cool is that!!! Not sure how to do a raffle online but I guess what we could do is everyone who wants to enter send me an email to this address:  I'll will email you back with a number that will go into a bowl.    I'll have someone pick the winning ticket on January 11th, 2010.  That will give it a month to run.

ThinkTank makes some of the best bags out there, I've been using their belt system since 2005.  This looks like a really nice bag, it will hold a full size slr with a 70-200 attached.  I wouldn't mind adding it to my bag collection!  But I can't enter my own raffle, so.......... :(   

Good luck! 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lighting a high school gym doesn't have to be expensive

Well it's bball season and so I thought I'd put up a post on how to make my cheapo gym strobe kit.  I use Vivitar 285's for my kit, they're inexpensive and powerful, but best of all they will work with a generic 6v lead acid rechargeable battery, no fancy electronics to fry.  I wouldn't hook up this battery to a canon or nikon flash for the simple reason I just don't know where the positive and negatives are in the battery compartment.  I buy the old version of the vivitar's, the new ones they sell at BHphoto have had issues.  I try not to pay more than $60.00.  Other options are sunpak flashes or some of the new chinese flashes discussed here on Strobist.  I have no experience with any flash other than the old Vivitars that I own, so I cannot recommend anything else.  How can you tell what 285 you have, old or new?  Look at the bottom of the flash, it will say made in china or made in japan if it's one of the original Vivitar's, the new ones don't say anything. I have two "china" and two "japan" units.

The Vivitars have a battery insert that makes a great template for the fake battery, I just cut out a wood block to fit the space and use screws to make the contacts.  The cable is lamp cord (18 gauge or 16 gauge) that you can buy by the foot at any hardware store. I actually have reels of this stuff for wiring up my arena strobes.

The other great thing about this insert or fake battery is that you cannot put it in the flash wrong.  It will only go in one way.  Check out this blog for another way to make the fake battery using the Vivitar battery insert.

The + and - signs are pretty self explanatory.  Just be sure you have the same thing on the other end, I end up marking one side with black marker to make sure I don't get the two confused at the battery end.

I found the connectors at Radio Shack, I think they are for RC cars.  You can also just use the slide on connectors directly to the battery like I have it in the first photo.   I like the black and red wires that the RC car connector uses, no chance of screwing up the polarity. 

The batteries can be found at BatteriesPlus or your neighborhood electronics store (think RC cars or other hobbyist electronics), any 6v Lead acid rechargeable will work, keep the amps at 4.5 to 5.   To charge them you can use a special wall wart charger like this....

This will set you back about $30.00 or you can go to your local auto parts store and pick up a motorcycle battery charger for around $20.00.

To see how this system works, check out the photos in this article.

For an article on how to light a high school gym with small flashes, someone grabbed the tutorial from Maxpreps website and put a .pdf on their's the link

check out this blog     I love this kind of stuff.
Here's another great DIY article on bouncing flash.

blog links

I've been going through and trying to fix all the broken links that came with changing the name of the blog.