Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Learn To Light With Shoot Workshops

Studio lighting - there's more to it than sawing the roof of the house off, or setting fire to the sitter. As fun as these ideas may be, new studio shooters need to know other forms of illuminating their subjects. Here is where Shoot Photography Workshops and Anthony Wilson come in.

Anthony will be conducting a three-week introduction to studio lighting in May. Hell be lecturing and demonstrating the ins and outs of flashes, light modifiers, exposure rations, posing , shooting, and equipment for a host of studio situations.

If you have just bought a two-flash kit and want to know how to get the best out of it - or if you want to expand your range of illuminations and wish to find out exactly what light shapers do - Anthony is the man to listen to.

The course will be on the 6th of May - the 13th of May - and the 20th of May. It won't be a crowded pie fight either - there will be time and space for individual help  and creativity.

The basic cost for the three-wek course is $ 325 - but if you give the nice person at Shoot a ring in the next little bit, you can claim a 10% discount. Money well spent as you find out how to light your professional jobs.

Please ring the Shoot person at 9228-8232 or go over to their email at:


Speaking from experience, there is nothing as freeing as having your own shooting studio and the ability to create drama and beauty with light is fabulous. Get that experience now - ring Shoot.

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Firm Up Your Wares - With Canon

Today's announcement from Canon is a firmware upgrade for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera. It will be of interest to video and still photographers.

1. Video

The upgrade will enable the camera to use their HDMI output to send uncompressed video data to an external recorder. This means minimal degradation during video editing. Additionally, the video you are recording can simultaneously be displayed on an external monitor while you are capturing it.

2. Stills

The photographers who want to use long lenses with teleconverters are now assisted by a boost in the AF capability. You could couple a 600mm lens with teleconverter to yield 1200mm focal length and work down as dim as f:8. You also get a coincident increase in activity and focussing ability if you use 1.4x converters or 400mm or 100-400mm lenses.

Please search the official Canon website for directions to the free download area.

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Serious Snooping With Leica - The APO Televid 82

I suppose most of the people who will use the Leica Apo Televid 82 scope will be watching birds - or animals. Some few more might regard it as the ultimate luxury for peering downrange when doing target shooting. Yet others might watch through barbed wire and dragon's teeth at the local demilitarized zone.

Whichever pursuit you intend to follow you can be assured of the best of German optics:

Water and dirt repellent exterior coating. Padded to absorb vibration and sonar beams from Soviet submarines.

Waterproof to 5 metres, like Soviet submarines.

HDC multicoated lenses.

Flouride glass.

25x - 50x variable zoom eyepiece.

Dual-focus system - a coarse wheel separate from the fine wheel.

Iron ( plastic...) sights for general orientation.

Rock-solid tripod support foot.

Leica warranty.

This is a supremely bright scope that is not at all fatiguing to the eye - you can use it for careful scientific observation hour after hour. It is not inexpensive, but Leica quality optics guarantee that your money is well-spent.

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Do Not Touch - With Promaster

It is amazing the number of times the simple cable release is needed in photography - particularly now that most cameras do not take a mechanical cable release.

Apart from my Fuji, and your Leica, and a few others I cannot remember, most other serious cameras need an electric command to fire off. You plug something into a socket on the camera and then press a button on the other end of either a cable or a wireless link.

Promaster have catered for this sort of thing with a rather wide range of remote releases. They make them for a number of cameras; Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax, etc and they can be had with either a solid cable or an IR link.

You can even get sophisticated timers that allow delayed triggering or interval shooting - time lapse photography is very much the in thing right now. Not confined to just scientific images either - the recent video of the Indianapolis 500 snail races was rivetting.

Here is a variety of their releases in their packaging. Note that they are also at a very competitive price. We like having such a large stock for different users.

Studio photographers: note the discrete use of invisible props for presenting the product to the camera. This is the sort of attention to detail that defines professionalism. Amateurs use soup cans...

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Is there anyone out there amongst our clientele who does not know what the orange symbol on the blue ground is? Anyone at all? Good. We all know it is the copyright symbol.

Or was that copywrite? Or copywright? Or coffeeryte?

This sort of doubt does seem to affect some people - particularly some of the people who receive our images. Being confused, they can sometimes attempt to resolve the problem by copying the images and then altering them and publishing them to suit their own purpose. Quite a discovery for the originator of the image to make, particularly if it is sent to him for admiration...a blood pressure sort of discovery.

Having just resolved one of these incidents, hopefully in a gentle manner, I have resolved in future to make sure that each batch of images that goes out will have some indication of what I expect in terms of copyright respect.

1. For a direct delivery of something that has been contracted and paid for like a wedding or a portrait session there will be a statement on the disc:

" Here you go. Yes, that IS you. Yes, you were holding your mouth like that - it's not Photoshopped.
You own the copyright and you can do whatever you want with it. Good luck."

That seems professional enough.

2. For the non-descript sort of job - done for a mate or a mate's mate - or for the social club:

" These images are held within the copyright of the _ _ Studio. Do not copy, distribute, or publish them without the express permission of the _ _ Studio. Really. Don't."

With a bit of luck that should limit the disc burning to a small circle of two hundred and may prevent the most embarrassingly lame images from going viral.

3. For the images that are likely to fall into the hands of other photographers:

" These images are under the copyright of the _ _ Studio. Tempting as it may seem to erase the backdrop of the group shot and strip in another one that suits your ideas, please remember that the image you are altering is backed up by an NEF file with full metadata and a cheap solicitor who is hanging out for an excuse to make trouble. Megabytes of trouble. Take your own pictures."

Of course the threat of legal trouble is nothing but hot air, at least at the prices that the legal profession charges. If the _ _ Studio was working for Ford Motors and the Chevy people pinched images we might expect a real battle but that is unlikely to be the case. The most one can hope for is to at least alert the ....ummm..."derivative artist"...that you are aware of your own work.

4. For the images that are really bad - that hurt the recipient and cause general depression and disgust:

" These images were taken by_ _ _ and their address is _ _ _ _. What are you going to do about it, Loser?"

You can insert the name of any other studio in the blanks. This makes a nice "Welcome to the profession" gift for a new graduate.

Uncle Dick, proprietor of the _ _ Studio

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Troublemaker's Tuesday - With Bushnell

If you have ever had an ambition to get yourself beat up or arrested or both, we have just the thing for you. Our rental department found a Bushnell speed radar gun and will be letting it out to scientists and adventurers.

The gun works on battery power, has a wide arc of coverage, and is remarkably accurate.

These have been used in the past to check the speed of thrown cricket or baseballs, to check the accuracy of car speedometers, or to see how fast trains move along the railway line.

Imaginative people will want to don a Village People outfit, speedgun motor cyclists on the open highway, then demand on-the-spot fines. The slight illegality of this may prove a hindrance, but I'm sure the motor cyclists will assist in setting things right.

Alternately one could set up outside the local police facility, speed clock the officers as they leave, and issue on-the-spot scoldings. That should go big-time...

You could point the speedgun at your tax refund and see how fast it disappears.

If you are Outraged of Salter's Point you can use the gun to monitor the speed of hoons in your road and then write accurate angry letters to the paper. You could also clock boats on the river and complain to the water police.

The uses are endless - come see the boys now and zap your way to the hearts of your neighbours.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Not To Panic - with Ilford

We have been seeing a number of photographers here in the last few weeks looking for inkjet printing paper. Several were worried when the looked for Ilford Galerie Smooth pearl paper in the familiar red box.

They could see that there was an Ilford box that said Smooth pearl, but it was a more complex design and had the word "Prestige" at the top. They worried that their old favourite paper had vanished.

Panic not. the new Smooth Pearl is every bit as good as the old Smooth Pearl and has the advantage that it is just a little thicker - 310 gsm vs 290 gsm. Same great surface and compatibility with Canon and Epson inks and same great results - really a standard of the industry.

So print away, kids - and if you need the paper profiles make sure to go to the Ilford website.

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Engage Automatic Warp Drive One, Mr Sulu...With Epson

Good news for those of you who have been following my experiments in the Scientific Ruritanian - the anti-gravity ray is finally working. Once I get the dog down off the ceiling I will be able to publish the final paper. Until then it may be as well to avoid walking under him...

On another front, I finally got to try one of the features of the Epson V700 scanner this weekend, and can report on the operation.

The V700 is a flat-bed scanner that has been specifically designed to accommodate transparent and solid copy from the tiniest miniature format to the 8 x 10 size. I have owned on for 5 years and have used it extensively to mine the archives of my negative and slide collection. I scan and save the images into the digital bag and then use the Adobe Photoshop Elements program to modify them.

In many case the modification is confined to cleaning the spots and dust from the scan. My negatives and slides have been stored in proper sleeves for the last 40 years but even the best storage is a little subject to contamination. Indeed, the act of taking an old negative out of storage and placing it in the dedicated scanner plates can attract some dust through static electricity. The newest negs have little to bother them, and the big sheet film negs are so big as to render small dust unexceptionable, but the 35mm and 120 ones from the 90's generally need some spotting.

Of course spotting these days is mouse or stylus-based using the spot feature of PSE10 and is very effective - you cannot see where the program has erased the problem. But it all takes time as you navigate around the image at 100% and zap the spots. Then you go out to page size and invariably you have missed one, so you zoom in again...

The Epson V700 has a feature that is designed to relieve this problem. There is an ICE circuit built into the control panel that supposedly removes the dust automatically. I tried it last night with the experiment of doing one scan on a moderately clean image and then spotting it manually - timing myself - and then repeated the scan on the same image with the ICE turned on.

At this juncture let me explain what I think the ICE is doing - if I am right it is science and if I am wrong it is sorcery. It makes a regular preview scan as pre normal - you inspect it and choos the size and crop. When you engage the ICE and tell it to scan it goes down your image once, then resets itself - with an audible click that is distinct to the ICE setting - and runs slowly down the image again. I suspect that it is looking at the surface of the film from a slightly different scan bar angle - hence the click - and then supplying the computer with two images to compare. the computer takes some time to do this before it spits the final image to wherever you have requested.

The time taken to do this is at least double that of the un-cleaned scan, and in some cases it may be more than double. But we are not talking about very long scans here, either. In any case in the end you have an image that is entirely free of dust - and here is the good part: I inspected the manual clean version and the auto clean version side by side and cannot see any loss of resolution. Just loss of dust.

The time taken to do the ICE clean is no longer - and in the case of a heavily contaminated surface can be much shorter - than the business of doing it yourself and then spotting away for 5 minutes.

Tonight I shall make the experiment of deliberately putting a fingerprint on the non-emulsion side of a negative and see if the mechanism can cope with the whorls and spots. I also have several negatives of shame that never received proper washing and have chemical contamination on the surface - it will be interesting to see what it makes of them.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Whiteout or Wipeout?

I often wonder what other people did about white balance when they used film in their cameras. I know some people who shot in studios bought odd emulsions that were biased to tungsten lights - and they had to be careful to get the particular film for their lights, or vice versa.

Others sat there with colour temperature meters and measured what was coming out of the lights, or in trough the window, then did a page and a half of mathematics, and then shuffled through the accessories box to see if there are some filters for the lens or some gels for the lights or a big sheet of cellophane for the window. And then shot it with fingers crossed.

Nowadays we have the wonderful facility of the white balance control on the camera. Generally accessed through the menu, it allows a vast range of presets for daylight, flash, tungsten light, and a number of other atmospheric conditions. Frequently there is an "Auto" setting and if you have a good camera a custom setting that lets you measure what is out there and act accordingly.

Have a look at the "Auto" setting on my little studio camera. Not coping very well at all in the first instance, but spot-on in the second. What did I do that made the difference?I used an expodisc, that's what.

The Expodisc is a light integrator that gathers colour from many angles and presents it to the measuring program in the camera as a pure blank - and then you ask the camera computer to regard this as the standard to which you wish to work. It works - see the second view of the studio desk.

I can see this as the ideal solution for the wedding photographer who gets caught in a church with off-white walls and off-colour windows. The light inside one of these edifices may be conducive to holiness, but I'll guarantee when you see it later on your computer screen as a raw image you won't be reciting blessings...not if you have to sit there and manually re-balance an entire shoot.

Simply slip the appropriate size Expodisc on the front of the lens you'll be working with and take a WB shot in the same light as that falling on the bride. Your camera will do the rest and your post processing will be ever so much simpler.

Even in studio flash circumstances, the output from your strobes might be 5500º Kelvin which matches your camera preset, or it might be different, depending upon the age of the tubes. The Expodisc can set you exactly onto studio white.

They are available now in our shop in various sizes from 62mm on up. Highly recommended.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Unique Artifact Found In Camera Shop - Staff Mystified

Just in today from Perth, Australia.

Staff at the Camera Electronic camera shop in Perth, Australia have been stunned with the appearance of a strange camera in their second-hand cabinet. None of them have seen one like it before, and there is some speculation amongst them on how it got there.

Aliens from Betelgeuse have not been ruled out, but then they never are...

The camera seems to be coated with a titanium finish, and exhibits a strange glow when photographed through the Photoshop Elements program. This finish extends throughout the object, even covering the external surface of the lens barrel.

Even stranger - there appears to be no digital screen on the back of the camera, prompting experts to speculate that it may have been intended for use with a one-use chemically-treated strip of acetate contained in an internal magazine.

The shape of the camera seems to suggest that it might be operated by a hand not dissimilar to that of a human. There is even a thumb lever to actuate the mechanism.

Investigators from NASA and Mythbusters are expected to examine the object. Prospective customers who wish to obtain it for their collection or for use with the acetate strips are advised to get in early and bring their credit cards.


Think Pink - Zeiss Lenses For Nearly Everybody

Whenever you see a collector for the Pink Ribbon Appeal, put a gold coin in the tin. Breast Cancer research and it is a good, good cause.

Now - on to cameras. Gotta Leica, Zeiss-Ikon, Ricoh GXR, Fuji XE-1 or X-Pro1, or an Olympus mirrorless camera? Good for you. Notice how it looks sort of unfinished if you leave the lens off the front? We can help here.

Look carefully at three gorgeous silver lenses - all Zeiss ZM mounts. 21mm, 35mm, and 50mm. One, or all, of those are the lenses that you always wanted for your rangefinder or mirrorless camera.

Fast - we've got f:2 on the 35 and the 50 and f:2.8 on the 21.

Precise. All metal mounts, smooth focussing, positive stops. Focus lever integrated on each barrel.

Modular. Bayonet hens hood mount. 43ø and 46ø filter sizes - no weird sizing.

Fabulous glass - Biogon and Planar formulation - classic designs. T* coating.

Stylish. Silver. Also available in black.

Cost effective. It would be mean to point this out but it is true. Cheaper than the alternative - you decide if you would like to save.

Unusual. If you insist upon being a camera geek, these will stand you in good stead at the next geekmeet. No-one else will have them and everyone else will want them. You can gloat in all directions.

Bring your camera and take some test shots. Bring some money and take one home. Bring someone else's money and take them ALL home...

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Reflect On This - Lastolite and Promaster

After all my ranting about using fill flash for weddings, I finally have to admit that it is not the only way to deal with lighting. There is an alternative. Pine-knot torches...no, just kidding. I really mean reflectors.

Observe the fine efforts of Mel, our organisational expert. She rounded up all the reflectors and backdrops and strung them out along a backdrop kit holder - you can browse all the different sorts with ease. You'll note a number of interesting surfaces there on the rack.

The standard white reflector is joined with silver or gold - either as a two-sided unit or right there on one surface. You can soften or intensify the reflected light, or choose to add warmth to it with one of the gold surfaces. There is even a black surface to act as a flag or light absorber for dramatic contrasts.

Note the green flash there in the middle - we have a large foldable backdrop made by Promaster for the blue/green screen technique. It is self-supporting and fortunately the surface of the screen is a matte cloth - this means that with careful lighting there should be very little bleed through of colour to your main subject.

Of course we alway have the triangular Lastolite reflectors with the integral handles - these are particularly useful to solo workers as they can be held safely in one hand and manipulated around the subject - or can be effectively propped up against the operator's knee for under-fill without rolling away down the nearest slope!

Last inmage is of the Redwing disc-holder. It goes onto a light stand or other support and clamps a circular reflector so that you can position it without needing an assistant to hold it.

Note that all the reflectors are eco-friendly and do not consume electricity in operation. You can also use the silver reflective ones to hide under when aliens flying saucers come over your studio. They are a popular accessory in Roswell, New Mexico...

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ready For Your Close-up, Mr. De Mille?

In the world of studio flash and portable speed light, we often forget the photographers who want or need to work with constant light. of course if they are prepared to go outside and put up 12 square metres of reflectors and swat mosquitos and all, they can use the natural daylight. Good until you go inside...

For the rest, and we are particularly thinking of videographers who need to get a great deal of light in a small space, there are hot lights. Here's an economical one - the red headed studio light with he 800 watt output.

Nothing could be simpler - set it up on a standard light stand, open the barn doors, and turn it on. Yo can focus the tube in and out with the control wheel for a greater or lesser spread of light. Set your white balance and away you go.

This is available as a single head or in a pack of three with stands and reflector - and the three-pack comes in a professional travel case.

All you need to add is Scarlet O'Hara and a burning Atlanta and your career is made. Well, it worked once, why not again?

Please note the sticky suction cup Manfrotto mount is not part of the light kit - it is just a very convenient way of sticking things onto a smooth surface.

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Big Deal - It's A Canon...

So? It's just a secondhand Canon lens...what's so good about that?

If you are a Nikon, Pentax, or Olympus user....basically nothing.

If you are a Canon user the good is the condition of this lens and the reasonable price. Lens, box, case, caps and a three month warranty for $ 1450.

If you are shooting weddings, or surfing, or pets - and in particular if you are combining all three themes in one shoot....this is the lens for you. A wet bride covered in cats is just indescribable.

Treat yourself to some good glass for a change. It will make even the modest Canon bodies look good.

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Sticking To Your Post - With Manfrotto And Cullmann

Saturday night last was a  revelation for me. I attended a hafla - a dance show for Middle Eastern dance - at a local school auditorium. The evening was four hours of wonderful dancing to terrible music by talented dancers in colourful costumes. I hasten to add that the experience is not new - I do a half dozen of these a year. What was new was the equipment I took along.

Camera the same, flash the same, flash bracket the same...even the same old sandwich and bottle of beer in the camera case. The new bit was the monopod.

Four hours of holding a heavy DSLR rig is no fun, particularly if you are in a kneeling rifleman's position. Eventually your arms start to ache. This time I supported the weight of the camera and flash assembly on a Manfrotto carbon-fibre monopod and only had to concern myself with the zooming and firing. I was able to sit on a chair for some of the time as well, and my toes thanked me for it.

The one worrisome point was the fact that I had the camera in landscape position for most of the evening - fine for the wide shots when the whole troupe comes out, but it meant some cropping for portrait orientation on individual dancers. Fortunately my Nikon camera at 400ISO will support this sort of trimming and the resultant images should be all that the dancers could desire.

Oh, the blessed relief to be able to let the Earth support the weight and just move the camera around.

It struck me that the video people would also appreciate this facility with the dedicated Manfrotto monopod you see in the heading photograph. The thing stands fully a man's height and is in itself heavy enough to take even large video rigs. The fluid head means smooth pan and tilt and the monopod is equipped with a very wide-pread foot for use in boggy ground. There is a self-centering mechanism in that foot that basically allows the monopod to stand upright of its own accord, as long as there is no camera on top.

I know that sounds silly, but it allows you an extra degree of flexibility when you are mounting our dismounting the rig if no-one is there to stabilise it for you. You can't expect it to balance the full rig without you holding on.

I know monopods are not new to Perth photographers, and they are in the basic pack of many sports shooters. But there may be far more uses for the theatre and wedding people - particularly if they want to make use of lower light and a slower shutter speed. I know I was able to drop my basic speed to 1/15 second for the dancers - the flash froze them, the background burned in, and there are the occasional little speed lines where a fringe of beads moved. Magic.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Who The Heck Would Buy One Of Those?...Zeiss

Hey, look over here, Fred! There's a bunch of lenses that don't have any autofocus. And they don't have any automatic stabiliser switch. And they don't have a zoom. And they don't even have a rubber ring around the lens. Who the heck would buy one of these?

Well, professional architectural photographers for one. Professional landscape photographers for another. People who carefully construct images - or carefully observe them - and who can evaluate the focus before they press the button. Slow workers.

Then there are the photographers who are making images for fussy clients - clients who demand the utmost in resolution for their advertising images. Clients who demand the absolute minimum of chromatic aberration in the product.

People who shoot Nikon, or Canon, or Leica , or....Zeiss Ikon cameras. Note that the last named are becoming rare and are film cameras.

Sometimes Zeiss lenses are used by careless and forgetful clients. NASA left a number of their Zeiss lenses on the moon back in the last century and this was taxpayer's money too...

Well, apart from governmental agencies, scientific workers, and advanced enthusiasts, I guess that's all. Can we sell you a lens, Fred?

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You Have The Power - With Godox

Today is Earth Day. You all know what that means. Time to have your wall sockets and extension cords checked by a qualified electrical contractor.

While you are thinking electrical, consider the Godox power inverter. We have the LP 800-X model in stock right now and the price has dropped from $ 995 to $ 895.

Do you have studio flashes that are locked into your studio? Or a computer that needs mains power to run? Or  hot lights that need 240VAC to operate? Are you sick of having to unreel 25 kilometres of extension cords from your house to the beach for a location shoot - and then having to reel them back up again to go home?

Here is where the Godox inverter is your frend. There are three standard AC sockets on one side and three USB sockets sockets on the other - see images. The power inverter locks onto the top of the dedicated rechargeable battery and pumps out 750 watts continuous or 800 intermittent power. You can draw off 110VAC 60Hz or 240 V Ac 50Hz. There are overload and short circuit protectors in operation. There is even a low voltage alarm to let you know when it is time to change batteries.

The change-over couldn't be simpler - just unclip four safety locks at the sides of the inverter and lift it off the battery. There are spare batteries available and as it only takes three hours to trickle charge one, you can have a spare ready to go.

This is the type of solution that means you can have studio flash power and effective light shaping wherever you have a location shoot - and you don't have to change over your current equipment.

Current equipment. Earth Day. Ooh, they're coming thick and fast today...

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Under The Radar At A Wedding With Lightsphere

Please note the dome in the heading photograph. This is not the targeting guidance system for an Atlas E missile - though they are nice as well. It is a Gary Fong Lightsphere - in this case one of the collapsible ones. Beside it is a packet of gel filters made by Honl. They are the absolute bullet for event and wedding photographers.

Those of you who reel back in horror at the thought of a flash at a wedding - like M. Cartier-Bresson - are welcome to move further down the car. By all means ramp your ISO up and clap a 2.8 zoom to the front of your DSLR and hover over there in the shadows. I'm sure your photographs will be all the better for your artistic decision. I should de-saturate a few of them and tilt a horizon to provide variety. Remember to browse the salad bar at the reception...

I shall be running around in the meantime popping up out of prepared positions to ambush the bride with my camera and the flash attached. That'll be me down there at the front of the aisle as they exchange vows - look for the balding head and the occasional electrical discharge. Note that I will have the Fong Lightsphere firmly attached ( and it does attach firmly ) to my DSLR and a short zoom on the front. And I will be elbowing interlopers out of the way.

If the wedding is to be held in the warmth of a tungsten-lit church I will push one of the amber Honl filter gels down the throat of the Lightsphere to match the prevailing light. Likewise I will push in a slightly weaker amber if I am filling an outdoor shoot in the last hour of the day. My flash will be about the same as the sun then and the subsequent computer work will be so much easier.

If, horror of horrors, the wedding is in a filling station lit only by flickering fluorescent bulbs and the demonic eyes of the guests, I will substitute one of the green filters. Don't laugh - I once covered a wedding where the groom chased the bride through a burial ground with an axe. Nice colours. Nice axe.

The Lightsphere softens and spreads the flash so that there is s pretty good agreement between the illumination on the main subject and the stuff that filters through to the background. Of course you can force the flash to put out more or less light with the controls on the back - all flashes can do this to some extent - and you can force the light to spot the subject by your choice of positioning and distance, but generally you can set a ratio and then just chase the bride at will.

The amazing part of it is that even if you think that your flashes are disruptive, it is unlikely the happy couple will notice. I spoke with the bride from two weeks ago and she did not realise I was working as much as I was until she saw the video from another guest. Thats under the radar. Mind you, if I wanted to promote the brand I would have to have a sign on the back of my shirt advertising the studio to the wedding guests.

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Oldest Resident In The Village - Your New Camera

What is the oldest piece of photographic equipment you own? What is the oldest piece of equipment in your kitbag? Are they the same thing?

We all keep stuff way past what the manufacturer reckons we will - way past what the retailer would do. It might be a rattly old tripod ( missing the quick-release plate, as they always are...) or a scruffed-up flash that we bought on holiday in 1969 ( with a voltage surge over the terminals of the PC socket that would weld titanium...) or some such relic.

Why do we keep it? Because we bought it - or someone gave it to us - or we found it on the verge at the last collection day. It has formed a mental value for us that far outweighs any real benefit. In the case of the Flash Of Death it is actually dangerous to the rest of our gear.

How do we escape from this? Well, joining a religion that eschews all material possessions is a good way - provided you do not have to stand and watch as the high priests fight over your goods. Shaving off one side of your head and changing your name to a hieroglyph is another - and has the benefit that you may be offered a place on a television show panel. As the very last resort you can take whatever it is to the camera market. If it sells, well and good. If it doesn't, try to find someone who has left the window rolled down on their car and ditch it in there, then run.

Now that is the last resort - and a time-share one at that. Beyond the last resort is the zen solution. Look at whatever it is that is sitting there until you can figure out what it does. Then go out and do it. If it is successful and you feel better, bring it back. If it does not work, bin it.

Note that this approach also works with clothing, books, and sporting gear of all types.

Remember that if you suffer pangs of remorse,we are fully equipped down here at the shop to supply new old gear to take the place of the last lot.

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--> Camera Electronic: April 2013

Camera Electronic