Wireless Flash Triggers Demystified

Wireless Flash

For some reason the whole idea of lighting strikes concerns in the hearts of photographers.  So, the concept of taking your flash off-camera makes a lot of photographers start to tread with trepidation.  Taking things to the nth degree, now imagine introducing wireless triggers for your flashes when off-camera!  It’s pretty daunting for many, and I get tons of questions on what to do from Canonistas, Nikonians, Pentaxians and more!  Getting good results with off-camera lighting and using wireless flash triggers can be challenging for sure, but with the right understanding of the gear, and some of the basics of lighting, you can get great shots too!

Wireless Flash

After experimenting with my own sets of various wireless triggers, and the number of questions that have come out in this area, I’d like to set about de-mystifying the concept of wireless flash triggers.  In doing so, let’s separate for the moment the whole reason for removing flashes from your camera (better lighting, more control, etc.), and for introducing the wireless element (fewer cables to trip over, longer range, etc.)  Let’s instead start where most people like to start – talking about the gear!  There’s basically four competitors out there, and I’ll cover the nuts and bolts of each here: Read more

Five Elements of Control: #1 Luminance

This week I am doing something special here on the blog – starting a week long series on the subject of Control.  We can control our photography in several different ways, and I’ve seen different outlets talk about each of these (and others) to a certain degree, but I’ve not seen many that address all of these elements collectively.  Since a discussion of all the elements that go into a photograph would be both exhaustive and likely impossible to touch on everything, it would probably be better to narrow that focus (pardon the pun) on some of the more salient elements to consider.  Today, the element of control that I’ll be looking to in more depth is:


Contrast, or luminance, can be described as the tonal range of light within a photo.  If the tonal range is broad, then that means we have an extensive range of tonality from the lightest point to the darkest point in the photo.  Likewise, a narrow tonal range will mean that we have a limited range of tonality from the lightest point to the darkest point in your photo.  Take a look at the following two photos and see if you can determine which one has a broader and a more narrow tonal range.

Santa Fe Church #1
Santa Fe Church #1
Santa Fe Church #2
Santa Fe Church #2

It should be pretty clear that one has a wider range of luminance to it than the other.  What’s exciting to learn here though is that this is the same photograph! That’s right!  I simply changed the exposure settings in ACR to output a different result.  Different tastes will look at each of these differently, and like one over the other for a variety of reasons.  What’s important to understand here though, more than anything else, is that all I’ve changed is the luminance.  The tonal range or contrast of luminance can have a powerful impact on a photo, either by how it limits and defines focus or by its range and extent of difference between high and low luminance points as we change from white to black.

So, why am I talking about luminance first?  Because it is probably the most important element to control.  After all, luminance (or contrast) deals with the principle of light!  Photography by definition means to paint with light ((look up the Greek roots photo and graphos)  Without understanding how to control for the element of luminance (a.k.a. contrast or light), the rest won’t really matter too much.  Rather than say more or less luminance is better or worse than the other, (because it really is a matter of subjectivity) I’ll simply leave you to ponder a few things between now and tomorrow:

  1. Which one do you like better?
  2. Why?
  3. What other elements of control can you think of?
  4. Finally, what other examples of the effect of luminance can you think of?  Got any you’d like to share?

Feel free to share your thoughts and sound off in the comments or with me directly via email.  Until tomorrow and the Second Element of Control, Happy Shooting!

Beautiful Bokeh

Beer 2 Bokeh

Over the weekend, I was taking some time to review some new hardware (not done testing yet, so gotta wait there) and I was testing in various types of lighting conditions, and at various burst rates.  During the course of the testing, I remembered how beautiful the bokeh is on the Sigma 70mm Macro lens.  Read more