Category Archives: Equipment

Working With Off Camera Flash

I’ve never been a great one for flash photography, partly because of the nature of work I do and partly because of the flat and lifeless images flash photography can produce. I’ve always been aware of the creativity that flashguns afford but it’s only over the last couple of years that I’ve started using flash seriously and creatively.

Naturally I have a flashgun – a Nikon SB-700 that I use occasionally for fill-in flash.  Much of my work is stage photography, where creative lighting is already part of what I’m shooting, so flash is unnecessary. For parties, events and functions, where ambient lighting is also an important part of the scene, I use slow-sync flash to light the subject whilst still capturing the lighting from disco lights or other effects.

I’m now being tempted in to the world off off-camera flash, thanks in part to my recent discovery of the AmazonBasics Flash, an insanely cheap flashgun available from Amazon for just £26.

This unit is, as you’d expect from both the name and price, basic. It has no TTL metering or any other wizardly. It’s just a flash, powered by 4x AA sized batteries that can be manually set to one of 8 intensity settings. It also has a wide angle diffuser and a bounce card. It also comes with a hot-shoe stand and a waterproof bag. Build quality I would describe as adequate.

The flashgun has three settings – Manual, S1 and S2 – the latter of which provide a slave mode that allows the unit to be remotely triggered. It is compatible with a range of cameras, including Nikon, Canon, Ricoh, Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji, Pentax and Samsung.

I found the unit worked right out of the box with my Nikon D600, using it together with my SB-600.

In the image above I held the Nikon speedlight in my left hand whilst the AmazonBasics flash was mounted on a tripod behind me and to my right. I remotely triggered the shutter using an infrared remote.

Off camera flash is a relatively new practice for me and I hope to be experimenting with it a lot more now that I have two strobes to play with.

To find out more about the AmazonBasics Flash, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01I09WHLW

Occasional Lighting

I frequently carry around a set of slimPAR38 LED spotlights. I use these as a contingency for events where the lighting falls short of what is necessary for good coverage.

13996509165231-SlimPAR-38-NEW-LEFT-angle

One example is a  Year 6 Prom I covered where lighting was not provided for a surfboard simulator. Without the PAR cans the only other lighting option would have been the venue’s main fluorescent lighting, which would have seriously compromised the atmosphere (and accompanying disco!)

Another example was a music event where the main lighting bar was obstructed by decorations, meaning that the performers faces were in relative darkness. I was able to use the PAR cans as uplighters at the side of the stage, which dramatically improved the lighting.

The lights are typically set to slowly fade through the colour spectrum but can also be configured to provide static lighting.

These lights have made otherwise un-photographable events possible, with very little overhead. They are easy to set up and adaptable for any event, either to provide direct lighting or simply to add atmosphere.

Think Tank Retrospective 20

The quest for the perfect camera bag is journey that many photographers are familiar with. For those that have yet to find the ideal bag, the Think Tank Retrospective may bring that search to a conclusion, if you’re prepared to spend the money. I bought mine online from Speedgraphic after reading lots of positive reviews. Unfortunately it appears there are virtually no shops that stock the Retrospective so I had to buy purchase sight unseen and based purely on photographs and Youtube videos.

Photo of camera bag

I was looking for something to replace my Lowpro Event Messenger 150, which I’d outgrown, so I plumped for the larger Retrospective 20, which at 13″ x 12½ x 7″ is not a small camera bag. I fact it may be too large for the average photographer, but given the negligable cost difference between this and the smaller Retrospective 10, I chose the 20.

All of the reviews I read commented on the quality of the bag – and indeed the materials and manufacture are top class. One reviewer remarked that you could probably tow your car with the strap and he may well be right. This is a bag that is made to last not years but decades. And the quality doesn’t stop with just the physicakl properties of the bag. Think Tank have put a lot of thought in to the design as well.

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