Thursday, August 12, 2010

Looking At The Phottix Atlus

PocketWizard PWP-TR 801-125 PLUS II Transceiver (Black)As noted in an earlier posting, I've recently begun my journey into the RF strobe world via Pocket Wizard PlusII(s). I became aware of another brand of RF triggers that are PocketWizard PlusII compatible, by a company called Phottix, called the Atlus.

The benefits, from my point of view:
  • Sports an ISO hotshoe, on the unit itself. (primary plus)
  • 1/4" screw mount on the side of the unit, opposite from the shotshoe mount.
  • Compatible with Pocket Wizard PlusII(s)
  • Claims of longer range!
  • Less expensive: $108 vs $169 per transciever
I'm currently the owner of two PW+II's, so a third would actually allow me to trigger two remote strobes from the camera wirelessly.

Don't get me wrong, if I needed extra PW(s), I'll go to my local camera store and pickup more PW(s). However, by all accounts, these Atlus units are quality devices in their own right. The signal compatibility with PW(s) means a less expensive means to expand the flash triggering network.

More on this when it arrives.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Zebra Flash... you're my hero!

Flash Zebra is a purveyor of all things Flash related. They make cables for X hardware to connect to Y hardware... no, really, they really do have a massive matrix of connectivity.

I'm a Sony/Minolta shooter, and a side-effect of that is that I have to deal with the Sony/Minolta flash mount, which is incompatible(physically and electrically) with any other shoe mount out there. Having recently gotten aboard the PocketWizard bandwagon, it sucks that while I can have my PocketWizard dangling precariously from the side of my camera... I could not have it sit atop my camera, like a normal photographer. Enter Flash Zebra's Sony/Minolta Hot Shoe Adapter.

Sony A700 + Flash Zebra Hotshoe Adapter + PocketWizard+II

That's my Sony A700 DSLR. Mounted on the Sony/Minolta hotshoe is the Flash Zebra Minolta/Sony Hotshoe Adapter. Atop of that is my PocketWizard PlusII. Looks nice and natural, doesn't it? I certainly think so.

Also, thanks to Flash Zebra for getting the item to me so quickly.  I'm certainly a happy customer and see myself looking there first for all of my flash adapter needs.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Another Visit To Don Edwards Nature Center

I've got to say, I really love the Don Edwards Nature Center. It's a great place for a short or long hike, there are Jack Rabbits, Egrets, Swans, Ducks/Geese, etc. It's almost never packed, and provided you have parked outside of the gates, you can stay till sundown.

Don Edwards Nature Preserve

My only caveat is to dress in layers to prepare for the chill of the evening. I never do this, so am forced to leave pretty soon after the Sun goes below the horizon... my fingers, hands, and even arms start to get clammy. Yes, I go in just a t-shirt and jeans. Not the right attire by a long shot.

This trip was kind of spur of the moment. I just needed to get out and move around, get some air, and feel a little closer to nature for a while.

I brought my 70-200/2.8 and 17-50/2.8, though I ended up shooting most shots with the 70-200/2.8. I still shoot with the Sony A700, so that hasn't changed. Also brought the two pocket wizard plus II's and the new PW->shutter release cable I made. Everything except the tripod went into the Lowe Pro Classified 160 AW bag, and the tripod I hefted along.

First off, let me say... Don Edwards is beautiful. Even when the tide is out and the water levels are low, it is still gorgeous to behold in any light.

As the Sun is setting and everything goes golden, then purple... it's just dazzling.

The last few times I went with my monopod. Oh... did I mention there is a strong in-bound breeze? Yeah, a monopod will not cut it. The Manfrotto 190XProB with the ball head on it will more than happily weather the wind, however. The pan base was a real plus as well, since I had intended to take some pano images.

Anyways, images coming soon. You would not believe how long those stitching apps take to work... -_-;;

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Small Taste of Wedding Photography

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending my sister-in-law's wedding. In Minnesota. During this last July 30th weekend. Yes, it was hot and humid. No... I was not carried off by the state's un-official state bird, the mosquito.

Photograph of Anna just before her wedding.
Shot with available light from large nearby window. (50mm @ f/2.8)

I did, however, bring my camera gear with me. In my previous post, I indicated I had gotten the LowePro 160 AW camera bag and listed all the gear I've shoved into it. Well, I was toting this bag of gear around in the heat. I was also wearing a buttoned up long sleeve shirt, tie, jacket, and dress pants. It was VERY VERY hot and humid. I found myself constantly looking for a towel. :)

I also had the extremely fortunate chance to talk to the official wedding photographer, Angeli of BellaGala. Angeli was extremely friendly, open in sharing her experiences, and patiently answered my questions about  equipment and wedding photography. It was really enlightening to watch her work, to see where her eyes lead her, throughout the events, and to ask myself the why(s), where(s), and how(s) of what Angeli was doing during her work.

Watching her work and feeling my own response with my own camera brought something into sharp relief: there is no substitute for working under someone who knows what they are doing.

As the day progressed, I found myself taking mental notes of how she reacted to and anticipated the behaviour of the wedding party, and moved/acted accordingly to catch a decisive moment with her camera. She was always courteous, never intrusive, and extremely respective of the emotions and events of the day.

One answer she gave stuck in my mind. I had asked her if she had the trinity of wedding lenses: 50/1.(2/4/7/8), 17-50/2.8 or 24-70/2.8, and 70-200/2.8? She noted that she had the mid and long, but opted not to carry the 50/1.x. The reason being was that she found she didn't use it enough to justify it. I was still thinking about this later, when in editing my own photographs from the wedding, I realized that I had only brought out the 50/1.x once, and none of the shots from it were really all that great; not really close enough, and not really wide enough. In fact, I found I used the 70-200/2.8 the most. It really is a lens that lets you get close visually, but not invade space physically.

I've got another wedding I'll be attending later in August. I'm hoping to produce some nice photographs there as well.

However, I only needed one wedding to learn why it is that some photographers choose wedding photography. It's an exciting way of shooting, where the situations are constantly in motion and no two shots are the same, even if you use the same techniques over and over again. It's a kind of photography that does not favor the machine gun spray-and-pray method of photography, but encourages the photographer to watch, think, and anticipate the shot and take action.

If I ever got out of IT as my primary career, I can honestly see myself looking to wedding photography as a viable career for me that I would truly love and enjoy.