Walking with Light

Walking with Light

WALKING WITH LIGHT

By the start of the summer of 2020 I had concluded that equine photography was not going to happen which frustrated me greatly, but looking at the bigger picture and how the pandemic has affected people across the globe, it quickly refocused my mind.

Despite the impact of the pandemic in relation to my equine photography, I decided to to use this year to try out some new lighting ideas using minimum equipment. So, every time Fran and I went walking, I would take the kit below, it’s been a personal project really, I just wanted to see what I could do I with limited kit, in relation to location lighting.

Godox AD200

Godox AD-S2

Godox EC200

Godox H200R

Manfrotto Nano Pole Stand

Manfrotto Tilt Flash Shoe

MagMod Creative Gels Set

Sometimes I leave Godox H200R and the Godox EC200 at home, but the images displayed in this blog are all taken using the kit listed above.

Most weekends we go walking in either the Peak district or in Nidderdale although with some of the lockdown restrictions we have had some mini local adventures too.

In September we decided to drive up into Cumbria for a few days break in the camper can to visit Eden Valley, I had heard about two places that interested me called Lacy’s Cave and Coombs Wood.

Lacy’s Caves are a series of 5 chambers in the red sandstone cliff of River Eden, just north of Little Salkeld, Cumbria, England, near Nunnery, at grid reference NY564383. They are named after Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Lacy of Salkeld Hall, who commissioned their carving in the 18th century. The true purpose as to why the caves were carved remains unknown. However, the caves were used by Lacy for entertaining guests and the area was originally planted with ornamental gardens.

The length of the walk is 7km (4.5 miles) and the loop takes in Little Salkeld, Lacy’s Caves, St Michael’s Church, Long Meg stone circle, Little Salkeld a water mill and takes about 3 hours. You can download a PDF of the walk Here

We also went to Coombs Wood to look for the rock carvings and the carved poem, but were unable to locate them, although the river level was probably too high to gain access to the area where they are. So, we will have to return again sometime.

Closer to home there is a place we often visit on the outskirts of Sheffield called Warncliffe Crags. From Finkle Street you can walk along part of the old railway track through mixed woodland or take one of the tracks or paths along the edge of the crags and heath land, the area is very diverse and despite being close to Sheffield, it can feel like you are miles away.

 Practicing outdoor portrait ideas with Fran, using just one very portable lighting setup, mixing hard and ambient light

In October Fran & I were lucky to get away to the Breckon Beacons, we spent a week on the Brec and Mon Canal, I took the same lighting kit with me and created these images.

This year I have purchased a Godox AD300 pro to replace my old Godox 360, so in 2021 I plan on testing the AD300 pro together with some Godox mount modifiers I have purchased during 2020. I think the Godox AD300 pro is going to be a really versatile location lighting setup as it had more power than just one AD200, but the form factor of the AD300 is like a lens, so easily transportable

Red Squirrels & Off Camera Flash Workshop

Red Squirrels & Off Camera Flash Workshop

After presenting and promoting off camera flash at a few camera clubs, I was contacted to ask if I did any, one to one training, or off camera flash workshops.

Although I use flash for my horse portraits, running a workshop with a horse as the main subject would be difficult logistically, so I started thinking about what would be a little different subject wise for an off-camera workshop.

I have photographed Red Squirrels with flash numerous times, so I thought they would make an interesting subject, so I started working on a few ideas and some promotional ideas for the website.

I had met Andrea very briefly at Halifax Photographic Society whilst presenting the Lighting The Way Workshop (Off Camera Flash) but unfortunaly I was unable to get Andrea’s Canon 4000D to fire with the Godox Triggers I had, or with any other third part triggers at the club, so when Andrea contacted me about the Red Squirrel Workshop, my first thoughts were, why did the triggers not work on her Canon camera, but other people’s Canons?

I soon learned that the triggering issues with some newer Canon cameras is the discussion on various forums and I found out that Godox had released a new firmware to overcome the centre pin issues, so I was confident that the problem was sorted, but as I did not own a Canon 4000D, I would have to wait to see if Andrea got back to me to make a booking.

Andrea contacted me again about a week later and made a booking for herself and her daughter Em. As a backup plan I took my camera along, so Andrea would at least be able to learn how to use off camera flash in the event of the trigger not working with the Canon 4000D and Andrea was happy with this.

Arriving high up next to the stacked logs and wandering sheep, we left the cars and started walking down to the woods, Andrea and Em started telling me about their interest in photography and nature and that Em had won a few photography competitions. I also learned that they had never been to this location before, so it was there first time.

I helped both of them setup their cameras up into manual mode, showed them how to change the, ISO, WB and then gave them both a trigger and explained how to use them.

My original idea was to provide them each with one light which would be on different channels and ID’s and then introduce a second light as they progressed. However, it soon became apparent that they were both really enjoying photographing the squirrels and so my planned intentions, were becoming undone.

I asked if they would like me to set both lights and triggers to match each other, that way they could still take advantage of the flash, but photograph the squirrels as they moved from one stump to the other, Em was a little more trigger happy than her mum, but they shared the lighting well and as the lights were at 16th power, they were recharging very quickly anyway. From the images I saw on the back of the cameras, I think they took some good images and they learned how to turn the power of the light up and down in relation to the ambient light, so they did learn the basics.

I decided to write this reflective blog to remind myself, that learning anything should be flexible in order to make it enjoyable. On reflection did Andrea and Em learn how to use off camera flash the way I had planned? Did they enjoy the experience and learn something new?

I think the important reflective point, is they were able to photograph Red Squirrels using flash and they enjoyed it. Reflecting on learning is an important part, but sometimes we need to reflect on the all aspects not just the main core that was intended.

Red Squirrel Taken with No Flash during the Workshop

Here Are Some Red Squirrel Images Using Off Camera Flash Of My Own Taken Last Year.

Godox Firmare Updates Downloadshttp://www.godox.com/EN/Download.html

Flashpoint R2 SPT Transceiver

Flashpoint R2 SPT Transceiver

If you are looking for a simple manual flash trigger set, the Flashpoint R2 SPT is a great option in terms of price and functions. The R2 SPT is a single firing pin transceiver and is the first simple universal flash trigger set that is compatible with the Godox X 2.4 GHz Radio Flash System.

  • Inexpensive Receiver – Universal To Fire non  Godox Lights
  • Single Firing Pin Transmitter – Universal To Work On Any Camera With Standard Hotshoe
  • Remote Shutter Release – Combined Shutter & Flash Firing (TRX Mode)
  • Increased Range – Up To 150m, or 300m Using R2 SPT as both TX & RX

The Flashpoint R2 SPT are Transceivers, with the Transmitter and Receiver units in this case being exactly the same device. A manual switch on the side simply assigns the unit as Transmitter (TX) or Receiver (RX) as required.

Being Single Firing Pin only, the R2 SPT do not provide TTL or HSS, though this allows them to work universally, as well as providing longer range.

Acting as a Transmitter to R2 enabled flashes, the R2 SPT will provide Remote Manual Power Control. (Not when acting as a receiver though).

  • Flashpoint R2 / Godox X – 2.4GHz RF Radio System
  • Range – To 300m (R2 SPT as TX & RX)
  • Range – To 150m (Between R2 SPT and R2 / Godox X System)
  • Flash Modes – Manual
  • Manual Flash – 1/256 – 1/1 Output (1/3rd Increments)
  • APP Mode (Sends Fire Signal Only)
  • Remote Modelling Light Power (Global ON/OFF)
  • Remote Beep Control (Global ON/OFF)
  • Groups as TX – A / B / C / D / E  (5 Groups)
  • Groups as RX – A / B / C / D / E  (5 Groups)
  • 32 Channels
  • Wireless ID 01-99
  • Compatible with the Godox X 2.4GHz System
  • Backlit LCD Display
  • 5 Individual Group Buttons
  • Auto Memory Function
  • Wireless Shutter Release (In Sync With Flash – TRX Mode)
  • Type-C USB Port for Firmware Updates
  • 3.5mm Sync Port
  • 2.5mm Shutter Release Port
  • Powered by 2 AA Batteries

RX MODE

Functioning as a Receiver unit, the R2 SPT provide an economical way to simply fire you existing non- Godox lights in sync with the camera.

The R2 SPT provide a 300V safe trigger voltage on both the Sync Port and hotshoe, so even most older flash units should be safe to use connect to the receiver.

NOTE – In RX Mode all buttons on the R2 SPT (except the SET / TEST Fire Button) require a long press to have any effect. This is so that settings can not be bumped and changed accidentally.

TX MODE

Functioning as a Transmitter unit, the R2 -SPT (being single firing pin) are universal to work on any camera having a standard hotshoe.

The R2 SPT feature 5 individual quick access Group buttons – A / B / C / D / E .

in TX Mode the R2 SPT provide Remote Manual Power Control of the Godox X System flash units. As well as turning the Modelling Light and Beep On and Off remotely.

Only Remote Group Control (ON / OFF) is available with R2 SPT as receiver.

NOTE – Double pressing a Group button turns that Group ON and OFF, and Holding a Group button turns that Group on only.

Integration with other brands of flash

Prior to my lighting kit being predominantly Godox, I hade various types and brands of lights, if I wanted to combine them with my Godox kit, I needed numerous leads and other triggers which made quick setups not so quick.

One piece of lighting kit that I still use and love are my Einstein’s, by Paul C Buff and by using R2 -SPT trigger, I can combine the Einstein’s with my Godox lighting kit. I don’t have remote power control of the Einstein, but if I use the Einstein as my main light and meter for that, controlling all of the other Godox lights is simple and for Horse portraits this just works and very well.

I would love a Godox AD600 pro, it would really speed the process of lighting up, but the justification in terms of cash outlay would be a stupid move and as I only use the Einstein’s for specific scenarios where I need to pack a lot of lighting power, I can usually get by with the Godox kit I have anyway.  The R2 SPT trigger is a cost-effective simple solution to my needs and I also then have a back for any situations where my Xpro 2 trigger might fail.

I really hope Godox release these in the UK, I had a friend order mine and then ship them to the UK, but even with the postage, the R2 SPT’s are still a bargain.

Shaded Environments, Flash And Overcoming A Few Challenges

Shaded Environments, Flash And Overcoming A Few Challenges

If you go down to the woods for an outdoor portrait with your flash, you may notice a disparity between colour temperatures in terms of unflattering skin tones and washed out greens that can often have a negative impact on outdoor portrait images and trying to fix this in post processing will take time, effort and skill.

So what is affecting the images? The cause is the colour disparity between the different light temperatures. Flash is a daylight-balanced light source, with a temperature of 5500K. However, shade has a higher temperature than 5500k and can range from 6500k-9000k depending on the type of shade you place your subject in.

One advantage of using flash is that we can gel it to help adjust and balance colour temperatures. The two most useful types of gels for flash are CTO’s & CTB’s, but for this blog, I will focus on the CTB.

CTB (Colour Temperature Blue) CTB gels come in varying strengths, full, half, quarter. (often called cuts) By using a half CTB gel on the flash we can convert the colour temperature from 5500 to 7900k and by setting the cameras (WB) White Balance between 7100k and 7900k we can balance the ambient light temperature and the flash temperature, thus achieving a balanced look and feel to images.

By using gels to adjust colour temperatures, it will equip you to remove or reduce the unflattering colour disparity often encountered when taking outdoor portraits in the shade.

Personally, I am still learning about colour science in relation to flash & gels, but like most things in relation to photography, you just have to experiment and practice.

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