UPDATE: May 4 2017
Back in January 2017 one of my clients spent two days with me to create publicity imagery for their 2017-18 Season Brochure. For many of my theatre clients season brochure imagery is one of the most important marketing instruments of the year. But like most I’m tied to NDAs and cannot display the imagery until much later. On top of all that Village Theatre agreed to take a chance and change their entire format for the brochure based upon the recommendation of myself and the graphics genius I’ve worked with for seven years. I like to change things about every three years, even IF the prior campaigns have been successful and since they just had their largest subscription year ever, making a change was risky. But we did and the results were met with overwhelming approval.
The entire session was shot with Xplor/Godox 600 lights/remote heads. This is a complete departure from using my beloved PCB Einsteins in the past. I have found the battery life, color temperature, t:1/t:5 performance equal to my former strobes. The innovation of Godox combined with the US service and warranty of Adorama makes a killer combination for my work.
BTS of the two day session:
Final imagery with graphics applied:
UPDATE: April 18 2017
Today I conducted a client’s publicity shoot using the Xplor 600 combined with an eVOLV 200. The Xplor was used as a key light through an Elinchrom Rotalux modifier. The eVOLV 200 was used as my rim light with the Fresnel head/barn doors/grid on a boom arm. Wonderful combination! Camera was my Pentax 645Z.
I have decided to add a small travel review section to my blog. I travel extensively for client work and sometimes find hidden nuggets on my journeys. I should say that when I was ‘a suit’ in the corporate world I was able to travel well, first class air travel (prior to 9/11 and when airlines served real food), hotels like The Plaza in NYC, the Hay Adams in Washington DC, the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City, the list goes on and on. I listed some of the places I’ve stayed not to brag, but to give some reference to my point of reference. Staying on an expense account is very different than paying on my own dime.
Gah! I’ve gone back and forth on which I’d buy if I was considering both. I have two AD360s and one AD600. All are the manual versions, as I don’t find TTL good for my work flow. And I should also state I don’t use speedlights of any brand or kind. I just find strobes better for my work. So I made a laundry lists of my personal likes and dislikes:
Someone wrote to me about how I carry/transport/check my lights so I thought I would just post a quick note about how I do it. I like to carry everything for lighting in one case. I currently only have one AD600, but plan to get one more along with one of Godox’s yet to be released remote head units. As you can see what I’m using allows me to expand to allow a few more pieces.
Here are two images taken with the CononMark as the key light.
You can see some of the results from a recent studio dance session using the CononMark here.
CononMark was used as the key light in this studio ballet session. Strobe was the Godox AD600 using a H600 remote head.
A pro shooter friend of mine who I convinced into purchasing several AD360s wrote to me today asking if I had ever tested an AD360 against one of my Einsteins to test the power differences. He stated that in his test using wide hard modifiers from the same distance his results showed only a 1/2 stop difference. He was under the impression that there should be a 1.5 stop difference.
I never test these things, but since he’s a close friend I opted to try my own test. The only difference is I decided to NOT use a hard modifier because I don’t have any that fit all three that are the same shape/size. Plus I was not interested in testing the ‘max’ output of the units, only the differences. So I ran my test using all three bare bulb, no modifier at all. I placed each unit in my second bathroom which is small, about 8×10 feet. Pointed each bulb straight up and fired them at 1:1 power, maximum. I measured each unit’s output with a Sekonic L358 light meter set at 1/100th shutter speed, ISO 100. I pointed the meter at the opposing wall and fired each flash three times to ensure some consistency. Here are my results
I tend to be the type of fella who keeps stuff. Not in the way you’d think of a hoarder (although my gf may beg to differ), but in terms of how long I use things I own. My last car was over 20 years old with just over 260,000 miles. I plan on keeping my current car at least that long which in my view means the rest of my natural life. I have the same pocket lighter I’ve had for 30 years. I carry a Don Maxwell handmade pocket knife I’ve owned for only 10 years, but it will be buried with me. I’ve kept my wristwatches until parts are no longer available to fix them. You get the point.
I appreciate hand crafted items, those that are made well and are supremely functional. And just like my taste in restaurants, I lean toward finding mom and pop gems, those establishments owned by a person, not stockholders because I find quality is more than just their latest PowerPoint Titling, it’s their passion.
25 years ago I wanted to begin carrying a wallet that held a pad of paper and a pen. There were times I wanted to leave a note for someone, or jot down some of my thoughts. The internet didn’t exist in my world (or many others) so it was old school researching for ‘something’ I had in my mind. I finally found just what I was looking for at Edward’s Luggage. A small leather wallet with a corresponding sized pad of paper along with an integrated pen holder made out of leather. I substituted the cheap pen which came with that wallet with a Fisher Space Pen. Since purchasing the item I have never been without it.
For years I have used Paul Buff’s Einsteins almost exclusively for my strobe work. I still use them exclusively for all of my studio work as they are remarkable units. Combined with his CyberCommander and plug in triggers for the Steins they offer me the ability to control all but frequency settings right from my camera.
I recently purchased several new lights primarily for on location work. In the past I used the Steins combined with Vagabond Minis, but shooting action in high ambient light was beyond the capabilities of my beloved Steins. Godox AD360s allow HSS as does my Priolite MBX1000 Hotsync. Both of those units utilize Bowen S mounts for modifiiers.
Paul makes some of the best modifiers I have used, especially his hard modifiers like the Retro Laser Reflector, his 22″ Silver or White Beauty dishes, 11″ Long Throw Reflector, and my recently acquired Omni 18″ Reflector.
So when I wanted to use any of those modifiers with my Bowens mount lights I had to modify those units to use with my bare bulb or Priolite units. But I didn’t want to alter the modifiers permanently so I could still use them with the Steins.
So here’s how I managed to have my cake and eat it too…except for Paul’s 11″ Long Throw Reflector. I could not figure out how to modify that unit and still have the ability to convert it back to fit the Steins. Heck I thought if I can convert a stage follow spot into a modifier that can accept an Einstein I should be able to do that! Nope… So I purchased a Bowens BW-1878 High Performance Reflector. Not quite as good as Paul’s 11″ Long Throw, but good enough.
So here’s what I’ve done:
I am constantly on the search for new light modifiers, those that fill a specific need. Since I tend to shoot quite a few of my assignments on location I have long searched for an alternative to the beauty dish. Why a beauty dish? In light to moderate wind an umbrella acts much like an America’s Cup sail catching wind like there’s no tomorrow. Their shape is just conducive to collecting wind and as a result often topples a strobe and light stand. Sure sand bags or a voice activated light stand (human) can go a long way to preventing the ensuing damage, but there are times when I want or have to work alone. Even softboxes or octabanks can catch enough wind to pose a problem.
UPDATE: June 22 2015
UPDATE June 16 2015
I had the opportunity to use both the Flashpoint 360 and Rovelight in combination today during an on location dance session. I again ran into inconsistent firing of the Rovelight with the CellsII-C HSS trigger. I have yet to determine the root cause of this inconsistent misfiring outdoors. In studio they perform better than outdoors even at moderate distances.
I recently had the opportunity to utilize a pair of Adorama Rovelights as well as a Godox AD360 and a Adorama Streaklight 360 bare bulb strobe on a commercial assignment. All four of the units are capable of High Speed Sync (HSS) when triggered by a CellsII-C trigger
My assignment was to create imagery of ballet dancers in and around the Dallas area. The art direction conveyed to me was to place the ballerinas in recognizable venues in the Dallas area. In order to achieve imagery with production value required me to shoot at higher than normal sync speeds to greatly reduce the ambient light. For all of these shots I utilized my Canon 5DIII rather than my 1DX to obtain the maximum resolution since the images will be used for posters with an option to create billboard size media materials. I would have liked to use my Pentax 645Z MF camera, but at that time HSS options were not available. As recently as June 10th 2015 I discovered a possible solution to the 645Z’s slow sync speed, but have not yet tested these units. Alex Munoz has done extensive testing on the Priolite strobes which seem very promising
One of the fantastic benefits of using Rovelights with the variety of 360 bare bulb flash units is the ability to use one triggering system, the CellsII-C. As illustrated in the photo below placing the Rovelight’s trigger on the hot shoe of the CellsII-C allows simultaneous triggering in HSS of both the Roves and the 360’s.
Constant light was never something I gave much thought. I’ve been a strobe user most of my life because I like the power of studio strobes. I use PCB Einsteins for the lion’s share of my work. They’re portable and plug in power free when combined with PCB’s Vagabond Mini Lithium batteries. Yet there have been situations where the flash of a strobe was not practical. Why? For a couple of reasons. Sometimes even at 2.5WS they’re too bright for very dark venues where I want to maintain much of the ambient in the final photograph. (more…)
Why? My view is why not?! A few years ago a friend asked if I wanted an old Leko stage follow spot. Being a bit of a lighting pack rat I said “Sure!” I originally used it so I could apply light shaped with gobos in my still photography for dance. It also allowed me to create lovely rays of light using haze combined with different gobo shapes. In its original state the Leko was a 1000 watt constant tungsten light. Plenty powerful for stage applications, but completely overpowered whenever I used it in conjunction with my Einstein strobes. Even though the Steins can go as low as 2.5WS doing simple math shows you that at 1000 watts shot at 1/250th of a second yields about 4WS, not a ton of power.
UPDATE: June 22 2015
OCD, yup that’s me with light. This summer I have several outdoor dance shoots planned and in my normal way I’ve been obsessing about the light. The Rovelight was an answer to my prayers due to its HSS capabilities, portability and 600WS light output. But just the right modifier has escaped me up until today. I have been researching hard modifiers rather than octas, softboxes, umbrellas and such. You see where I shoot and what I love is wind. Moderate wind that makes hair blow back, wardrobe flow, all of those yummy facets in a photo that suits my shooting style. (Let’s not talk about my portable smoke machine, I don’t want to give any fire department fuel for my future trial…)
As I wait for the Godox AD600BM remote head I fabricated a focusing rod for my Westcott Zeppelins. The AD360 fills the modifier well.
I know that the most popular use for the AD360s will be as key lights for portraits. But I was recently asked to do an environmental portrait of an owner/chef in his diner. The time of day was very specific and I could not pick what I thought was the optimum time of day to conduct the session. At the time of the shoot, the sun was almost directly overhead of his establishment and the table I wanted to shoot him at was shaded. So I opted to use one AD360 paired with a Westcott Rapidbox Octa 36″ shot through the window to recreate window light. Each of his windows have awnings over them which shaded the actual window light more.
UPDATE: June 22 2015
UPDATE June 12 2015: I have added more real world experience with the Rovelight’s HSS capabilities which can be found here.
I recently purchased the Rovelight and was able to utilize it today on an on location commercial shoot. I normally use PCB Einsteins combined with their Vagabond Mini system for portability. For in studio work, I use Enstein strobes exclusively. Because I will be doing on location commercial dance shoots this summer, I needed a system that would allow me to shoot fast action outdoors. Although the Einsteins have a fantastic IGBT and t:1 performance, when using them in situations where strong ambient light is present, their ability to freeze fast action is reduced.
UPDATE April 7 2015
Ricoh recently released an update to Image Transmitter 2 which is now version 2.1.0. I had listed my frustrations with their prior version in my original letter to Ricoh below. In order to take advantage of the new version of IT2, you must update your 645Z’s firmware to version v.121 as well.
I just got done testing the new version and can report the following:
v2.1.0 works well and can be used with Adobe Lightroom v5.xx placing the images in a Watched Folder. None of the issues I sighted in my letter to Ricoh are present in the new version. I know that their update to Digital Camera Utility 5.3.1 now allows communication between IT2 and DCU, but I didn’t attempt to use DCU because my preference is to use Lightroom for my tethered capture.
I shot more than 100 images to see if there were any limitations on the number of images IT2 would display, but there were none. I will say that prior to the new IT2 release I had been using an Eye Fi Card sending small JPGs to my iPad through Shuttersnitch for wireless tethering. The transfer time is almost identical to that method even when sending PEF files to my laptop via a USB 3 cable. Since the time to transmit is the same I now plan on sending the PEF files to my laptop during client sessions. I will have an immediate double redundancy since the files will be on my laptop and on the SD cards. That’s always a great feeling.
I don’t believe transfer lag is due to anything other than the time the 645Z requires to process its images before sending them over a USB 3 connection or through a wireless ad hoc connection. It’s the same lag as waiting to view an image on the LCD screen after pressing the shutter. There is a noticeable delay. Much more so than my Canon 1DX or 5DIII.
UPDATE: August 4 2015
One of the great advantages of having a portable gobo/strobe combination is the ability to use patterns of light outside of a studio environment. Recently I wanted to create the illusion of a window on a painted concrete wall located in a parking structure. I loved the texture the wall provided so I simply took my gobo device, one Einstein strobe hooked to a Vagabond Mini Lithium battery. An incredible little combination for on location light pattern needs.
For years I have hauled around a full size stage follow spot just so I could use gobos in special photo shoot sessions. For anyone who knows me I seldom complain, it’s just how I was raised. But I will say that on a CONSISTENT basis my primary bitch is lugging gear. I hate it, I literally hate lifting, hauling and dragging gear to and from the airport, onto the car rental shuttle, into the rental counter, into the car, into the hotel, back out of the hotel into the car and then into the client’s venue. And then all of that in reverse. Get the picture? Assistants? Sure, but not on every assignment….