Kids playing with leafs.

The other day I was about to mow the lawn and noticed all the beautiful leafs laying arround. The light was awesome it was hitting pretty low and it had a nice warmth to it making those leafs glow.  That was a great excuse to postpone my duties and pick up the camera and have some fun.

I use the Canon 7D along with the Canon EF 24-70 L 2.8 here I also use a Canon 580EX II with a 1/2 CTO gell and triggered it using the Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 and a Mini TT1. I was going to use my Lastolite 2×2 but the wind did not agree with my idea and I had to take it down so I use the bare flash on the stand.

As usual my son does not make taking nice, cute pictures easy; he makes me work for the pictures. like most 2 yrs old I have to chase him all over and every time he sees me pointing the lens at hims he stops doing what he is doing or turns arround.

Here are a few pictures of that afternoon.

Kids portraits with Canon 7D and Calumet 750 with Photoflex large soft box.

After a few months of not posting, here I am. Recently I got some new lighting equipment (Culumet Travelite 750 made by Bowen) along with a large softbox (Photoflex 3′ x 4′  )

While testing the lights, my daughter decided to join and not long after my son did too. The set up was quite simple. One light Travelite 750 at about 1/4 power with the Photoflex 3’x4′ soft box to camera right and a large white bounce reflector to camera left. I did not bother with rim, background or hair lights on this shot since it was meant to be a test shot only. The setting on the camera ( Canon 7D ) was speed 250th the lens ( Canon EF 24-70mm F.28L ) was set at F9 and the white balance was fixed at 6400K with a white balance shift to +3 green.  The flash was triggered with a Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and a Pocket Wizard Flex TT5.

I’ve been running some test with the Travelite’s to determine their color temperature. The bulbs are the clear ones and are rated @ 6100K +/- 300k I’ve done some test shots with the camera set from 5600K to 6400K.  I think that setting the camera anywhere from 5800K to 6100K gives me a decent result with except that I noticed a bit of a magenta cast on light flesh tones and that was the reason I set the +3 green on the shots here. Next time I’ll try a custom white balance and see if that proves to be more effective.

So far my overall felling about the lights is great. The recycle times are fast  and the flash output it’s pretty consistent. On the other hand the lights are rather large to be taken all over town but I can live with that. The modeling lamp is a 250W this much power is good to see the effects of the light placement. The unit also has a tracking feature that makes the modeling lamp adjust it’s power according to the power setting of the flash therefore when using multiple strobes at different power settings one can easily see where and how the shadows a placed.

Thanks for looking and feel free to ask me any questions.

Alex Elias

Photo of the day. Portraits with Canon 7D

Yesterday I took some pictures of my little one and I ended up including my self for a few as well. I used a Canon 7D mounted on a tripod and a remote release to shoot it. The lens was a Canon 50 mm f1.4 I set the lens to manual and to aid me with the focusing I placed a stand where I was going to be sitting. The camera setting where at ISO 200 f7.1 (to allow some depth of field since I was not behind the camera to focus) and speed at 250th to keep the background black.

The lighting was done primarily with one flash and later I added a second one. The main light was a Lastolite Eazy Box 24″x24″ with a Canon 580EXII set at half Power. The soft box was on a boom hanging right above my forehead pointing down at 45 Deg and when added the second light this one was on an umbrella (reflecting) right in front of me. It was set low to the ground pointing up 45deg to my face. The second light was a Canon 580EX set at 1/8th power. The light were triggered with Pocket Wizards Mini TT1 and Flex TT5.


Photo of the day. Macro photography flowers part 2

I wrote something about macro and close up photography a while ago here  this talks about the set up I used to take pictures of feathers. The ABC’s are the same.

Tripod is almost a must first for the obvious reason of steadiness and second to find the composition that better suits your eye and third so every thing remains the same if you like to play with the lights to get different effects, so a tripod is paramount for this kind of images.

Use the mirror lock up function if your camera has one (it helps reduce or eliminate vibrations created by the mirror when it flips up)  If you don’t know if your camera has that feature or not this would be a good time to get something call owners manual, it’s a little book that came inside the box and most likely was tossed aside 🙂 if the camera does not have a mirror lock up feature use a self timer.

Cable release or wireless trigger also helpful to reduce vibrations.

I used a Macro lens Canon EF 100mm 2.8 but it is not a must if you don’t own one work as close as the lens will let you. There are some accessories one can use as well such as close up filters, or extension tubes to increase the magnification.  Now that we are mentioning the lens it is best to focus manually to get the best possible focus and use a small appeture with ironically is the larger number this images were taken at  f20 although this will add to the Depth of filed it might not be the best f stop due to something call diffraction, f11 to f16 depending on the camera and lens could be safe.

As far as lighting  I used mainly one Canon 580EXII on a stand with a 24″x24″ lastolite soft box. The flash was trigger via  Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 on the camera and a Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 on the flash. The flash was set to manual (find your own exposure and flash distance to subject) and shoot away.

On some of the pictures of the Poppies you’ll noticed I used 2 Flashes, the main one and on the center post of the tripod I attached at second unit (Canon 430EXII) also in manual mode connected with a Pocket Wizard FlexTT5. Since the poppies are rather thin I wanted to see how it would look like with some light coming from behind the petals.

Reflectors could be helpful to fill in shadow areas on the opposite side of the main light, depending on the look that you are after and the lights available to you, a reflector allows you to shoot with only one light. Even if you don’t have any lights available, place your subject next to a window with diffused light coming through and use the reflector on the other side.

I shoot this pictures with a Canon 7D set to manual mode. the speed was set at 50th of a second (although I’d recommend 250th) I guess I was not paying enough attention when I did my set up shame on me 🙂  ISO for most pictures was set between 100 and 200 and for a few where I needed more light instead of cranking up the flash too much I gave the camera a way to go with a 400 ISO (that is one way to conserve a bit of batteries and get faster recycle times) not that is so important for still photography to have a fast recycle time anyway.

Here it are some of the pictures along with pictures of the set up.

Thanks for reading this and don’t hesitate to comment, ask questions of post your own experiences.


Alex ELias

Portrait and lighting effects.


I received my mew model on the mail a few days ago (a $29 female head and shoulders plus $15 brunette wig) her name is Niky and today I shot a series of pictures showing the effects of light placing.

First I took a picture of the whole set up showing where the light was in relation to Niky and then photographed her 3 times using that set up.  The first picture shows only the light with a gold reflector, next image is with a silver reflector  and no reflector on the last picture. Then repeated the process every time I changed the location of the light. This will show what one can do with just one light. I might do the same later with 2 and 3 lights but I figure this can be useful for someone starting out in a budget.

  This post is not a lighting class by any means, it’s more like an aid. The first pictures are taken at 90 Deg to the left of Niky (our right ) and then I worked my way around to be right in front of  her face and also one series of pictures is right from up above her head. The pictures taken wtih the second flash as a hair light should be taken with either a grid or snoot or some modifier since they are to harsh for my taste, also the one with the flash on the camera lower right is perhaps not the best location (hight wise) I like the ones with the flash on camera top left corner better. 

To keep things consistent the camera ( Canon 7D ) was sitting on a tripod, and shot with a cable release, the lens ( Canon EF 24-70 f2.8 L ) set to manual focus. White balance was fixed at 6200K. The flash ( Canon 580 EXII ) was set to manual as well and kept at the same distance on the different lighting settings. The soft box used is a 24″x24″ Lastolite Eazy box mounted on a Manfroto stand and an avenger boom, the flash was trigger with a Pocket wizard mini and a Flex. Last, to be kind with the flash I set the ISO to 800, f4 and 250 speed.

I sure hope this could assist someone, I wanted to do this for a while not only to share some experience with others but of course to learn more and practice. So far I can see that Niky has no chance against a person but you can’t beat it for staying still and not blinking while shooting. It is a great tool to practice a number of lighting effects, best $50 I spent in a while.


Alex Elias

 PS: Comments, questions or thoughts are welcome and appreciated.

Picture of the day. Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex

Back in December 2009 Pocket Wizard run a US meet up tour hosted by Mark Wallace. First of all, thanks to Pocket Wizard for showing firsthand how capable this devises are; it was great being able to use them in real life scenarios. As expected this little creatures did not disappoint anyone within the over 100 photographers that were there.

Mark Wallace is a top-notch instructor. His demonstration was outstanding, with plenty of information and knowledge not only about the use of Pocket Wizards but lighting and other techniques in general. The 6 or so hours of the class went by really fast shooting live models in a great studio location. The lay out was nothing but perfect, there were 5 stations with models and different lighting and backgrounds.

Pocket Wizards are not Pocket Change, but are worth the investment. I just got one Mini TT1 and two Flex’s and I’m looking to buy a third Flex as soon as budget allows it to end up with a 3 light set up. It is great being able to set  stands with light modifiers in a matter of minutes without the need of plugs or wires, indoor or outdoor and maintain E-TTL, the freedom and features that this system allows keeps on going on and on.

Here is a link to some highlight from the class