In a related but separate news, I’m pleased to announce that the one-day “Shoot Like a Pro” Workshop is confirmed to run on 19th April 2009 at the Empire Hotel and Country Club. Originally introduced in my December 2008 post where I wrote about my preferred venue would be non other than the majestic and picturesque Empire Hotel I’m very pleased that the organisers chose this inspiring and breathtaking venue for the students to learn. I had a chat with Louis yesterday (before and after my invigorating jumping sessions at the club) and understand seats are still available so if you’re just learning about the workshop here, head over to SHOOT LIKE A PRO post to register. I’ll have you know that after you’ve completed the workshop and you have this sinking feeling that you are not shooting like a pro, there’s a follow-up workshop called CURSE LIKE A PRO (just kidding!) :)
I am also delighted to accept Louis’ invitation and look forward to the event, the coffee and the faces at the workshop.
It is my great pleasure to be able to have you as my special guest at our inaugural workshop at Brunei on April 19, 2009. You were the first to float this idea with me and thanks to you, this idea is becoming a reality. It is my honour that you can be there for this event. Looking forward to catching up with you soon. — Louis Pang
In Louis’ workshop, one of the many lessons he’ll touch on is the use of creative lighting as you’ll see in the video. The use of lighting from any light source that’s available in a heartbeat not just lights from strobes. In advanced use of on and off camera strobes whether it be from the Speedlites or studio strobes, I’m a big fan of portable wireless flash for commercial shoots at venues where ambient lighting is poor. Thanks to Stephen Loh of Lyrical Moments Singapore who introduced the Pocket Wizards Plus II to me (Louis uses the Radio Popper variety, I believe) and I’ve found them to be indispensable every since.
One of the first things you should be aware when shopping for these things is that there are basically two frequency types: FCC and CE. I won’t get into the difference between the two but suffice to know that you should keep them the same. In my case (and most cases in Asia I think) you want the CE models for things to be compatible. By this I mean, get the Plus II units that are all CE certified and if you are going to wirelessly trigger your strobes using an exposure meter from Sekonic, make sure it’s also a CE designated model. The smallest Sekonic model that lets you add a wireless module is the L-358 which I use (make sure the RT-32 module carries the “CE” designation too).
“CE” all the way—Plus II units, L-358 and also the RT-32 module to ensure compatibility
One of the nagging issues in photography has been power supply. In the digital age, nothing works without power. Digital cameras, wireless transceivers, exposure meters, strobes .. every thing big and small requires some power. The Sekonic L-358 uses one CR123A Lithium cell while my Canon ST-E2 Transmitter uses a more common 2CR5 Lithium battery. The Pocket Wizard Plus II fortunately uses two AA and each unit comes with a pair of Energizer and they surprisingly last a long time in between use.
You may remember this picture from my Chinese New Year post where I setup a Canon Speedlite 580EX and mounted it on a 60-inch shoot through studio umbrella. Back then triggering the flash to get an exposure meant manually pressing a Plus II transmitter and holding the L-358 against the subject. Now, I can conveniently trigger the flash and measures it output in just one step.
RF Interference: Convenience and portability comes at a cost —radio frequency interference. The Sekonic L-358 wireless module is supposed to trigger “PocketWizard-enabled electronic flash units up to 100 ft away” according to Sekonic but in my discussion with tech support from MacGroupUS.com, the following was revealed as I’m only getting usable distance of no more than 15 feet which is also inconsistent.
Studio strobes should work fine. I know we have some problems with the FCC models and the 580EX because of the heavy RF noise from the flash. Don’t know how good CE units do at 433Mhz. If with the 580EX, where is the Plus II mounted or located in relation to the flash? If close. Move it as far as you can. We are recommending the use of a Ferrite Choke on the flash cable. Try the studio flashes. — macgroupus.com
Well, I don’t know where I might be able to get Ferrite Choke cable to run from the Speedlites to PocketWizard unit. I have mine setup for triggering by a Plus II transciever and the RF inteference isn’t an issue—I can still reliably remote-trigger my flash over 100 feet away just not with the L-358. I prefer mine that’s elegantly mounted on a custom Buddy bracket made by Paramount Cords. To overcome RF inteference, you can connect the L-358 to a Plus II via the Sync terminal like, mount the two items back to back and you get a reliable wireless trigger. Practically, this setup is never needed in most cases. I mean, how far can you place your strobes anyway before it stops making sense? Even with RF interference, the usable distance works OK.