The Godox AD300 Pro & Why I Think It’s The Ideal Portable Flash.
In 2014 I purchased a Godox 180 flash as I was really becoming interested in Off Camera flash and it’s potential. From 2014 onwards, every flash I have purchased has been Godox. I cannot remember when I purchased the AD360ll with TTL, but it opened a new door in relation to using flash and when the AD200 arrived I was hooked, no wires, no battery packs and being able to combine two AD200’s via the AD-B2 head, I could have 400ws of power by paring two AD200’s.
As I have a Paul C Buff Einstein 640, The Godox AD600 or the pro version never really appealed to me, yes, the Einstein cannot do HSS or TTL, but if I ever need 600ws I can make do using a manual flash, but when the Godox AD300 Pro was announced earlier this year, it caught my attention for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s size in relation to power ratio without any leads or external battery packs and the Godox mount, more on that later.
For my uses the Godox AD300 is an ideal light for location work as that extra half a stop of light is a big deal to me, yes, I know I can move the light in closer, but what if you can’t or don’t wont to?
As my lighting experience and knowledge have grown, I have become particularly interested in hard light and up until now most of the long throw reflectors I have used have a Bowens mount, which means using the Godox S Bracket.
Back to the Godox mount on the AD300 pro, this is where I think the form factor of the AD300 pro and the extra half stop are really useful. For me personally if I can reduce the amount of kit I have to carry, I can also reduce the weight, I am also less liable to forget something. Previously if I choose to walk into a location off the beaten track, I would really notice the extra weight of the kit I carried.
I have just received the Godox AD-R12 Long Focus Reflector for the Godox mount on the AD300 pro and from the initial tests I have conducted with it, it’s ideal for my needs. No longer do I need to carry the S bracket or the newer S2 bracket in order to mount a reflector to throw light further and the extra half a stop of light can make a real difference. Moreover, the AD-12 is smaller and lighter too.
Just like many of the other Wistro flashes you can see the T.1 flash durations that can be turned on via the custom functions on the AD300 Pro, which are then displayed on the back the LCD which is useful for determining how well the flash can freeze motion at a given power setting listed below.
Prior to the Coronavirus lockdown, back in February I facilitated a Get Out And Learn Off Camera Flash mini workshop for Andrea and her daughter Emily who wanted to take the opportunity to photograph Red Squirrels and learn how to use flash off camera.
I provided Andrea and Emily with wireless TTL triggers, together with four Godox AD200’s and some small lighting modifiers so that they could experiment taking images with their cameras and lenses. Despite the cold and drizzle they both came prepared with plenty of warm clothing, sandwiches and a flask.
I wrote a blog about their experience and mine which you can read here: Reds Squirrels & Off Camera Flash A lot has changed since we met up in North Yorkshire, but I recently received an email from Andrea telling me that Emily had sent one of the better images she took of a Red Squirrel to Outdoor Photography Magazine and that there was a small mention of me in the write up, so I thought it only reasonable to write a blog and share a screen shot of her image and the article.
The Coronavirus is having an effect on everyone and everything so lots of people are finding themselves with more time on their hands, which could be a good or bad thing depending on one’s financial circumstances. Before the Covid19 crisis, distance and travel were not an issue, it is perhaps only now that we are missing the ability to where and when we desire. I personally am trying to keep my photographic brain active even if we are confined to our local area, although this has led to Fran & I discovering some beautiful local Green Lanes and making the most of our one form of exercise a day.
I don’t always take a camera with me on these little escapes from the house, but I decided to revisit one of Green Lane we have discovered and take a flash, a Magbounce and a very small and portable light stand on the walk and take a few images whilst out walking keeping kit lighting kit as portable and light as possible.
As my main focus of photography work is equestrian and lifestyle photography, I mainly use C Stands for my lighting, so keeping kit light and ultra-portable is not so important. I think the last wedding we photographed was about three years ago and used to bounce flash and or use a reflector. We had a wedding booked for July, but since the lockdown, this has now been cancelled. However, I had planned on using some very portable lighting kit during the wedding (Magbounce & Magsphere) as wedding are fast paced small and light becomes a priority. I have had some Magmod kit for a few years now and to be honest it rarely gets used, but I have never owned or used the Magbounce, so decided to give it a try prior to the wedding we did have booked before it was cancelled.
I purchased the Magbounce just before the Coronavirus pandemic, as my intention was to spend the spring and early summer playing around with it and see what was possible with it, yes you can bounce light off of walls and ceilings, but I was curious as to what the Magbounce could do where there were no wall or ceilings, it was the portability that really appealed to me.
As far a testing out the Magbounce out fully, it’s still early days, but for a really small portable lighting mod, so far, it’s growing on me. Will the Magbounce replace the lighting mods I use for equine and lifestyle off camera flash? No, it won’t, but I do intend on trying out some new ideas and for locations where there are no walls or ceilings and I want ultra-portability, this little lighting mod does have a lot of potential.
What will help you improve your flash photography?
If you type that very sentance into Google, the first thing that will no doubt be at the top of the page will be:
• Bounce the Light.
• Diffuse Your Flash.
• Make Use of Ambient Light.
• Use Coloured Flash Gels.
• Use TTL Technology.
• Enable High-Speed Flash Sync.
• Use More Than One Flash.
I think the first YouTube video is about bouncing light? Although Youtube’s videos are free, sifting through them to separate the good, from the bad and the commissioned can be a bit of a laborious task. What about books, which ones are worth reading? When it comes to books on lighting it can be just like YouTube, there are just so many on the subject of lighting.
So, which books will really help you improve your flash photography? The simple answer is if you rely on reading alone, none of them on their own. However, the old school book is still a good option combined with practice and watching videos. Personally, I don’t think anyone ever truly “masters” photographic lighting and although there are some very well know names out there that create incredible images using flash and make it look simple, even their photographic lighting technique continues to evolve.
Due to Covid 19, like most people I am stuck at home, so I thought I would share five of the books on lighting that either inspired me or taught me something about lighting. I think they are all fairly easy to read and understand and explain techniques very well. I am also using this lockdown time to play experiment, make mistakes with my lighting and try to improve it.
The below books are available as either eBook’s or PDF’s so as long as the internet continues working through the social distancing policy, you will be able to access them without the risk of spreading Covid 19.
Soft, shadowless light has become the general direction that a lot of portrait photographers take, attaching fast lenses to their cameras, opening up the aperture as wide as their lenses will go, in order to blur everything behind the subject and I have been just as guilty of this technique myself.
I recently I watched Damien Lovegrove’s Lumen video that makes use of Godox Equipment and in particular, hard light. What really grabbed my attention apart from his images, was the limited amount of gear he used to produce images with so much impact, which got me thinking about embracing hard light, rather than steering clear of it.
I have been using Godox equipment with various softboxes and umbrellas for location shoots for just over three years now and although I am far from being a master of lighting, I am always looking to develop new skills and ideas in relation to lighting.
This weekend I decided to experiment with the Godox kit that I have and see what I could produce using hard light instead of using the light modifiers I normally use, so kindly Fran agreed to leaving her camera in her bag, so that I could experiment with hard light on her and stand around whilst I moved a light stand from one location to the next.
Godox AD200 with 5″ reflector
For much of the Lumen video, Damien uses 2 lights and two light stands, he does use a few lighting modifiers, but for the majority of the shoots that he walks through, he is using either 5” or 7” reflectors, so his kit is minimal. Apart from uniqueness of the hard-light images Damien produces, what really appeals to me is the simplicity and the reduction of the amount equipment he uses. Lighting modifier’s all have to be packed and carried to locations, so the idea of creating more edgy images with limited kit, is really appealing for numerous reasons. I also thought that learning to make use of hard light will also enable me to offer something different from my current equine work.
I am used to scouting out interesting backgrounds for horse portraits where I can make use of a shallow depth of field, but I decided to set myself a challenge, not to blur out backgrounds, so from the outset I would doing something different.
Damien takes no longer than 10 minuets for the placement of his lights to create dramatic location portraits, which is down to a combination of his experience, knowledge and skills, but also his creativeness as a very talented photographer. However, it took me a little longer, “but hey, we all have to start somewhere in terms of learning”.
I think the first thing I experienced and learned is that the placement of your lighting with hard light is more critical than when I have used larger modifier’s and made use softer light.
As I was not intending to blur the backgrounds, I thought I would try using different focal lengths and apertures to my normal 135mm to 200mm at f/2 to f/2.8, so the next thing I started noticing were textures and shadows, which I had up until experimenting with hard light overlooked.
There are numerous resources on the web that talk about soft and hard light, but when you start exploring and playing with soft and hard light, you start noticing many differences that you may have overlooked or even be aware of. By exploring and embracing the differences of hard and soft light, it is enabling me to further develop a better understanding of light and how it can be applied to create different types and styles of images. Playing with hard-light is rewarding and enjoyable no matter how many mistakes I make and I intend to keep practicing and learning.
Personally I think the Lumen video by Damien Lovegrove and his team provides more than just a look at how he creates images using hard light, it gets you to think about trying and doing things differently with light, and that’s what good education should do, inspire you to learn and try new things.
You can find out more about Damien Lovegrove and his training videos via the link below.
Despite the advances in technology you cannot learn everything online. We think we have a unique way to develop new skills in relation to off camera flash, so If you feel that your photography skills or creative expression have hit a wall, why not join us on a Get Out & Learn Workshop and try photographing Red Squirrels with flash?
Due to the location and uniqueness of photographing Red Squirrels with flash, I only facilitate this workshop with a maximum of two people. I have two meet up locations: Hawes & Ribble Head. The duration of the workshop is a maximum of three hours and the cost is £40 per person.