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How To Mount Your Wireless Off-Camera Flash

How To Mount Your Wireless Off-Camera Flash

OK, so you’ve read strobist.com, and joined the Strobist Flickr group. You’ve gone on eBay and bought your “Cactus Triggers” or “Poverty Wizards”. Now it’s time to put it all together – Just how does tab A slot into tab B? Well here’s what I have settled on.

I currently have the Phottix PT-04TM wireless flash triggers, bought from HKSupplies on eBay. These triggers may not be 100% reliable, but I am getting very few non fires and even fewer miss fires. They are no Pocket Wizard, but they only cost pocket money.

The PT-04TMs are intended to mount onto your cold shoe or umbrella bracket or screw onto the standard thread atop a light stand with the flash mounted on top. The trouble is, this makes the whole assembly very tall and unwieldy and I found the flash would flop forwards and finish up illuminating my light stand very nicely!

So I set out to try and find a way of lowering the overall height to reduce the leverage. Here’s what I came up with:

Obviously there’s the flash. Then there’s the PT-04TM, with the plastic foot removed, velcro’d on top (you do have velcro on your flash head don’t you?)

Attached to the hotshoe on the receiver is a cheap hotshoe to PC sync adapter (designed to let you use a PC sync cord with a camera that has a hotshoe but no PC sync port) bought for a few pounds from eBay. If you have the slightly newer receiver that has a PC sync port on the side, you don’t need this.

Moving down to the bottom of the flash we have a Kaiser 1301 Hotshoe Adapter (designed to let you use a flash that has no PC sync port on a camera that has no hotshoe).

 

So basically, when the receiver triggers, instead of going straight over a hotshoe to flash connection, it travels over 6″ of wire first. There’s nothing clever happening, it just makes everything more convenient. The Kaiser 1301 Hotshoe Adapter has another benefit: It has a normal foot so you can use it with all your other umbrella mounts, but it also has a standard 1/4″ screw thread on the bottom for mounting onto any standard light stand, tripod, or in my case, a very small, very cheap Hama 5011 ball head. It may not be the tidiest setup, but it work for me… at least untill I can get my hands on some of those Pocket Wizard Flex/Minis!

I’ve been published!

I’ve been published!

I’m in Practical Photography this month… Almost.

Adam Duckworth contacted me at the end of last year and asked if he could use my image in his off camera flash article in PP. I said ‘of course’ and keenly awaited Jan 2nd when the issue hit the shelves. Imagine my surprise when my image and my quote were accredited to Simon Llyodbottom! I think it’s this Simon.

And for the doubters, my original image.

Rig photography – It`s OK to talk about it.

Rig photography – It`s OK to talk about it.

Even if you’ve not heard the phrase “rig photography” before, you’ve almost certainly seen examples of it. It’s the technique used to capture those images of cars speeding down the open road you see in adverts.

Only it’s not half as dramatic as it looks. The cars aren’t speeding for starters. They have a long metal boom attached with a camera on the end and they are being pushed to minimise vibration.

It doesn’t sound like rocket science or witchcraft but for some reason, almost nobody involved in rig photography will discuss their particular method of mounting the camera to the car, let alone show pictures of their rig.

Why? I have no idea. To me it’s like being cagey about what tripod I use, or what shoes I prefer to wear when taking photographs!

And on that note, Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, version 2 of my rig. I say version 2, but I am not sure my first attempt, comprising B&Q suction cups, a pole I found in the shed and duct tape, even warrants a number. This ones made from slightly better quality kit.

2x Manfotto/Arri LF.1000.A Pump Cups: These 6″ suction cups are the core of my rig. Because the bases are flexible rubber, they cope well with the curvature of car body panels and they won’t just let go suddenly like cheaper suction cups. The red line around blue pump button only appears when the cup is loosing grip and is your cue to tap the button a few times to restore full suction. The spigot adjusts to any angle via a heavyweight ball & socket joint and slots perfectly into the next time on the list. Make sure the cup is clean and you wont mark the paint work either.

3x Manfrotto Superclamps MN035: Basically THE clamp. Built like a tank and designed to work with all manner of standard lighting and photo kit. Press the button on the side and push it down onto the pump cups spigot and it won’t come off. Tighten the thumb screw to stop it rotating.

 

Turning the lever on the side opens and closes the jaws which can grip onto and tube or pipe up to 50mm. Be careful not to over tighten or your crush it. It even comes with a little plastic wedge that will allow you to clamp it onto flat objects like doors, tables and shelves. Seriously useful for mounting anything anywhere, especially when used with a:

Manfrotto 244 variable friction Magic Arm: This articulated arm with a pivot in the middle and ball & socket joints on either end (all tightened by a single knob in the middle) lets you position pretty much anything in almost any way you like. Even NASA use these things on the Space Shuttle program. In the case of my rig, I have a SuperClamp on one end and a camera mounting plate on the other.

 

So that’s 2 pump cups to hold the rig to the car, 2 clamps to attach the boom to the cups and a magic arm at the other end to give some freedom in positioning the camera. Simple, and when assembled and installed it looks like this (and yes, that is an aluminium painters pole acting as the boom! It’ll be replaced in version 3).

The final 3 images show the final the setup, the RAW image as captured and final post processed image from today’s tests.

Not the most exciting rig shot, I’ll admit, but it does show what can be achieved with off-the-shelf kit costing just over £100

Working the CTO

Working the CTO

Another of my Adventures in Strobism, as originally posted on my Flickr photostream.

Using info about creatively using a CTO gel on your flash by David Hobby aka The Strobist I decided to do a bit of Sunday morning experimentation.

What you have here is the same shot twice. The left is daylight white balanced and the right WB is set to Tungsten.

In the original shot the orange tinged flash (1.5CTO gel, 1/64 power, grid spot, camera right) illuminates the model wind turbine with a tungsten coloured glow. The overcast sky outside looks as it did when the shot was taken.

The image on the right shows the benefit of Mr Hobby’s advice: If you set the camera to Tungsten white balance, the colour temperature of everything in the frame is lowered. The warm orange light is cooled to bring it back to the colour of daylight while the already cooler sky is lowered to a deep blue.

Not the most exciting subject I’ll admit, but its a great effect and I can’t wait to try it properly. By underexposing, and using sufficient CTO, you can create that just after sunset look virtually anytime you like.