Andrea Java PRO 5:47pm, 19 April 2012
I subscribed to Kelby Training with the sole intention of watching the Cliff Mautner vids - they were outstanding. From what was shown in the vids, when he uses flash, it's almost always just one speedlight on a stick, held up high, about 15-20 feet from his subject. He uses that for receptions, as well as formals (only showed outdoor formals, so not sure about indoors).

Here's my first question: The video showing how he does his outdoor group formals was shot on an overcast day. He's fond of his 70-200, which he used all the way out at 200. His assistant had a speedlight on a stick, up in the air, head tilted at 45 degrees, 1/4 power, about 15 feet from the group and about 45 degrees off of camera-to-subject axis. His intention was to just provide a kiss of fill light. Does anybody here use a similar set-up for outdoor formals? What have your results been like?

Next question: I have a 580EXII, and access to another one when I need it. I've never tried using them together (I've always used optically-triggered Nikons when additional light was needed, but never in a wedding setting, since that wouldn't be practical). What, exactly, are the limitations of using the whole master-slave set-up? What's the maximum range, in the real world? What, exactly, is the definition of "line of sight"? Do the little sensors on the front of the flashes actually need to "see" each other? Can I stand behind the "slave" with my "master" and still trip it?

I'm just trying to figure out a few go-to lighting set-ups. I have lots of options that I want to test out this weekend and thought I'd first get some advice from experienced off-camera light users, before I embark on all of my experiments.
Ollievision™ 6 years ago
I am in no way a flash master! The only advice I can offer you is that my understanding is light triggers don't always work, especially in bright sunlight, so you might be better off with radio triggers.

The Neil VN blog is a good place to start.
Andrea Java PRO 6 years ago
I'm a Neil fanatic. I'm just trying to get away with not buying triggers. Sounds like I don't have a choice ;)
The_Maestro45 [deleted] Posted 6 years ago. Edited by The_Maestro45 (member) 5 years ago
"... His assistant had a speedlight on a stick, up in the air, head tilted at 45 degrees, 1/4 power, about 15 feet from the group and about 45 degrees off of camera-to-subject axis. His intention was to just provide a kiss of fill light. Does anybody here use a similar set-up for outdoor formals?...."

Yes and no.

It all depends on how much light is available and the exact look you are trying to achieve.

First of all - normal rule of thumb is to point your flash directly at your subject or group when outdoors. Turning the flash head up 45 degrees just throws light (and power) away for no reason. If you want less light - turn your flash down. Generally - with just one flash outside - even under overcast conditions - you are going to want your flash pointed directly at the group. I would also recommend using at least a small umbrella to soften the light. (Another reason to use flash pointed straight towards your subjects.)

Secondly - in an outdoor situation you are never going to see much improvement at all with just a "kiss of fill light". IMHO go for a dramatic light effect with more flash or just use your flash on camera for that little bit of fill light.

On flash controllers....

We use Nikon's system and have never had any problems with bright sunlight or a flash not responding. For non-wedding situations I can see that radio controllers may be better, but we have never run into any problems using the IR system that is built into our Nikon flashes. (I have not used the Canon system so I cannot comment on how reliable it is for wedding work.)

Best Wishes!
Jerry P. H. Posted 6 years ago. Edited by Jerry P. H. (member) 6 years ago
Bare flash as a general rule are a very harsh light. Used as a very slight fill, that harshness is masked, but still here.

I use this system, but I also use Pocket Wizard ControlTL triggers. IR or pulsing flash triggers outside are not very reliable (under optimal conditions, maybe 30 feet on a bright day, maybe less. I've had CLS failures at 15 feet too). To soften the light, I use modifiers... Be that a small bounce card, umbrella or softboxes that are optimized for 1 one more speedlights.

Alamari also stated a very important fact... Speedlights are just not all that powerful, and if you are battling against the sun, unless you do some very specific things, it is a loosing battle.

Things like using bare speedlights, or many do them... or going very close with the off camera flash. I am a fan of shadows, but not harsh shadows caused by a bare flash.

That techninque of angling the flash head up and away... just wastes battery power and makes that flash struggle harder than it has to.. one does NOT want to overheat a speedlight, it is easy to push them too far and damage them. Want less light, turn down the flash power... easy as that.

I've shot a lot of outdoor stuff with flashes, one has to first choose not only a compositionaly nice location, but if possible a flash friendly one too.

Of course one could also just carry around a studio head and battery pack... that along with a nice ND filter would let you shoot on the brightest of days without being concerned about the lighting being strong enough or not, and then overpowering the sun is a snap, which is a nice tool to have in your kit.
Tom...I bought some cheapo £25 triggers from ebay 2 years ago and they have been rained on, dropped, thrown and still they work...sure they arent TTL but honestly, the things are amazingly resistant
Andrea Java PRO 6 years ago
Hmm. I have a lot to think about. I really just want to develop a "system" that works for me, one that is easy to transport, easy to modify depending on the location and look desired, easy to control. I just can't decide on which of the many options I want to embrace and call "my own".

Thanks for the suggestions so far...
RuWaldo 6 years ago
I've recently discovered Cliff on the Kelby site and have watched all his lessons. I really like his style. It inspired me to try my last out door shoot in the middle of the day with the lens wide open like he shoots.

I think there are two really important things in the way he shoots. First is his command of putting his subject where they need to be for the light he has to work with. Second is his use of exposure compensation to keep his subjects properly exposed. You really have to pay attention to how he puts people in front of specific backgrounds to bring out aspects of the light that would otherwise be lost and then how he uses the exposure compensation.

He is really inspiring me and giving me goals to work toward in my photography. Keep watching the lessons and start to watch what he is doing as much as you listen to what he is saying.
blindOpal 6 years ago
check out cactus v5 triggers i really like them they use aaa bateries so no odd battery and you can use them as triggers and recievers so basically if you have three and one fails your never out.
tomKphoto Posted 6 years ago. Edited by tomKphoto (member) 6 years ago
Andrea, for what it's worth your "system" will evolve over time so don't stress about getting it perfect in the beginning. As someone whose had radio triggers since 1992, everything you buy will be wrong.

In the end, we're all going to want the new expensive camera-brand wireless TTL systems (Canon first us to bat, Nikon will soon follow) as they'll have complete control from the the camera. Full TTL or fully controlled manual or a mix of both. In the end, it will be the best mouse trap. Problem is, these systems will be expensive. I'm looking at three Canon radio speedlights and two master controllers ... 2500USD?

Until then, manual lights with inexpensive triggers are a great way to get started.

There's volumes of information on the Strobist website. Start with Lighting 101 (just ignore his endorsement of the over-rated triggers whose name will not be mentioned here).
Striegler Photography 5 years ago
I'm a big fan of the Radiopopper Jr's. They don't do TTL but they do allow you to change the power of the flash from the camera by turning a little knob, and you can even make three different groups. They are a radio signal so you don't have to worry about line of sight and the distance is pretty amazing. I know I have triggered one from about a 200 yards. The best thing is that they aren't that expensive. I think a trigger and receiver costs around $190.

Now they don't do the power control with every type of flash, but it does work with White Lightning and Alien bee and flashes with TTL. Of course, they still will trigger other flashes, but you lose the control.

Bryan Striegler
Northwest Arkansas Wedding Photography
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