Tag Archive for 'controll'

5 Essential Keys of Amazing Photographs.

By Gavin Seim

Simplicity is key to a great photograph. It turns even complex scenes into stunning beauty by controlling elements, light, and tone.

It’s not about how much is in a photograph. It’s about how we showcase our subject in relation to that supporting cast of elements. Now I’m not suggesting the images I show are “perfect.” It’s rare that I get everything dead on, and I can always find something I should have done better. But truly understanding and mastering these elements WILL raise the bar on our images and allow us to see in a new way.

1. Visualize.
Everyone says they’re doing it, but few actually are. You should truly “see” the scene in your mind’s eye; not what’s in the viewfinder but the finished image after the exposure, even after editing. You should see the image you want after the process is finished. It’s fairly simple, but in the rush we often fail to slow down and think carefully about the lines, elements, and tones in our scene. That’s one reason why I love working with a tripod. It takes my focus away from holding a camera and puts it on the scene in front of me.

Ansel Adams said, “The whole key lies very specifically in seeing it in the mind’s eye which we call visualization.”

Sunsets Hidden Falls, Yosemite 2010, Gavin Seim - I used a layer based HDR process on this, processing my light and dark frames as silver and layer blending in Photoshop. I spent a good deal of time on the composition and tonal control to try and keep the scene simple while still showing all the elements. You can see the stone faces on Zones 6-7, with the foreground elements falling drastically all the way down to Zone 1, keeping them as supporting cast from becoming too distracting.

 

2. The Light & The Zones.

Expose for what you want in your image, not what the camera sees. This goes right along with visualization, and the Zone scale is the best way I know of, both to visualize and to control values. It allows us to see in our mind’s eye the Zones in a scene and place them where we want, using exposure, and finally tonal edits. For more on detailed tonal value control, see the counter article to this one, 3 Critical Elements of Controlling Tonal Values.

The Zone scale from 1-10. Middle grey is Zone V (5). This shows the darkest dark to the lightest light and is invaluable for simple visualizing and exposing a scene. Each step represents a stop, making it easy to move your exposure up or down and place an element in a given zone.

 

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Review: Pocket Wizards Flex TT5, TT1 vs Radio Poppers PX, UPDATED

by Gavin Seim Updated 04/2010: Triggering flashes wirelessly is becoming a popular creative lighting tool. Popular flashes from Canon and Nikon often have built in wireless, but its basically working with old infrared technology making it essentially a line of sight tool with limited reliability.

To resolve this, various third part products have come to the market using RF (radio signal). Pocket Wizards have been a popular choice and their early units, though larger and only providing manual control, seem to have a good reputation. More recently we’ve seen products that offer not only manual, but full auto control. We’ll look at a few today.

pocket-wizzard-review radio-popper-review

UPDATE: 04/2010: Nearly a year has passed since this review first posted. I’ve been using Radio Poppers since then and they have worked amazingly well (note that I have no vested interest in either company). Pocket Wizards have released further firmware updates to their Flex series as well as other workarounds. While I have not purchased another set (and have no intention of doing so), I have seen little evidence that the Flex has been fixed other than tacky workarounds, like wrapping the flash in an RF shield to prevent interference, or holding the unit off camera tethered to a cord to make it work properly.

When a manufacturer has to resort to these sort of things, I consider the product a fail. If you look at even more recent comments you’ll see people are still having the same poor results. I found that Amazon reviews were mixed. There were various users getting the poor results that I experienced and it seems the positive reviews were mostly users satisfied with a short usable range, rather than what PW advertises. You can read them for yourself via the link.

Bottom Line: If you’re just going to use the Flex units very close in a studio, they “might” satisfy you. But if you plan on using them in the way their advertised and getting long range versatile wireless flash, don’t expect much. They did not perform. Nikon units of the Flex are supposed to be coming soon as of this writing, but I can’t say how well those will function. I have little confidence.

In contrast, Radio Popper PX units are great. RP’s work a bit differently. A base transmitter sits on top of your main flash (no they can’t work solo shoe mounted like the PW’s). A receiver unit is mounted to the front of your remote flash (the new bracket that came out last summer makes this much easier). The remote unit picks up the RF signal from the main unit, converts it back to an IR signal which it shot into the flash onto which it’s attached. All the built in wireless flash functions work like normal (even High Speed Sync) and can be controlled form the flash, because all that’s happening RP’s are forwarding the IR signals into a reliable RF signal and then back again on the other end.

While it may sound a bit more janky and clunky the main thing is they do what their advertised to and do it well. That’s what really matters to me. I have used Radio Poppers latest PX units outdoors at over 500ft apart with full functionality. That’s the kind of reliability I need. Radio Poppers also has both Canon and Nikon units available.

I consider the Flex series to be an Epic fail. While I know many Pocket Wizard products are known to be good (mainly their manual units) I have to say that I have little confidence in them as a company after releasing a product this poor. You can take a look thru the review below that I posted last year for some additional thoughts and information… Gavin

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