Profoto B2 AirTTL Off-Camera Flash Review

Posted June 17th, 2015 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography, Uncategorized  |  Permalink
Profoto B2 Air TTL

The Profoto B2 250 AirTTL Location Kit

Profoto asked me to review the new Profoto B2 off-camera flash system so I put the B2 AirTTL system through its paces shooting some outdoor portraits and photographing kids playing on a trampoline. For this test, I used the Profoto B2 250 AirTTL Location kit, Profoto OCF light shapers, a Nikon D750, the Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, and the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8.

Here’s a video I put together for the Profoto B2 AirTTL OCF system.

I currently own a set of Profoto D1 Air studio strobes and think that Profoto makes some of the best studio lights on the market today. The B2 flashes take the Profoto technology and shrink it down into a small, battery-powered location kit that you can take just about anywhere. Like everything else in the Profoto lineup, the build quality of the B2 system is top-notch. Also, the quality of light is excellent when used with the OCF (off camera flash) light shapers.

Profoto trampoline

I used the Profoto B2 250 AirTTL heads to photograph these kids jumping on the trampoline. The flashes worked great with the outdoor location and packed enough punch to work with the bright sun.

The OCF system uses a battery pack to power the heads. This battery is small in comparison to other location power-pack systems and weighs just a few pounds. It is small enough that you can easily wear the pack with a shoulder strap while shooting events and outdoor action sports.

The heads are 250 watt-seconds each, so they pack about four times more power than a Nikon or Canon speedlight. They also recycle much faster than dedicated flashes, making it easier to photograph action with the B2 system.

Profoto trampoline BTS

Here you can see the two B2 heads in the lower right and upper left. I used the extension cable to move the background hair light about 15 feet away from the battery pack.

The B2 battery pack is designed to hang from a light stand or over your shoulder with a longer strap. Power runs from the battery pack through cables to the B2 heads. These heads are small, lightweight and compact and mount to just about any light stand. The heads work with any of the Profoto OCF light shapers. They also work with the traditional speedrings from other Profoto systems like the D1, D2, etc.

Profoto sells a wide variety of OCF accessories including softboxes, octas, umbrellas, snoots, grids and extension cables so you can move the heads farther distances away from the battery pack. The OCF light shapers are lighter weight than Profoto’s studio light shapers. The OCF material is made out of a reflective silver-coated rip-stop nylon and is constructed very well. It is all designed to go out on the road and perform in any environment.

The AirTTL system allows full remote control of two B2 heads. It mounts on the camera’s hot shoe just like a dedicated flash. The difference is that it communicates with the B2 battery pack while allowing for full TTL control or full manual control of the flash heads. You can control the flash power from the battery pack itself or from the remote control.

B2 on flash bracket

The B2 OCF heads are small enough and light enough to place on a flash bracket.

The B2 system has built-in modeling lights. These are useful for studio work indoors, but the modeling lights aren’t quite bright enough to use outdoors. The modeling lights could also be used for video lighting in a pinch.

The B2 flashes are powerful enough to use outside on a sunny day. I used them with bright sun in the background and was able to shoot at f/8 and ISO 400 with a rapid recycle rate. Not bad for a small flash system.

Jumping on trampoline

For this photo I used two B2 heads; one with a softbox and the other as a direct flash.

Since the B2s are really lightweight, they can be mounted on a flash bracket attached to your camera. You’ll still use the supplied B2 battery with cable, but instead of mounting a typical Nikon dedicated flash like a SB-910, you’ll mount the B2 head to the bracket. Additionally, you can use any of the OCF light shapers while the B2 head is mounted on the flash bracket. The advantage of using the B2 this way is that you can shoot events while getting lots of power, fast recycle rates and lots of shots before the batteries run out.

The entire B2 location kit fits in a small bag about the size of a classic Domke F-2 shoulder camera bag. This means that you can take the B2 OCF system on location just about anywhere in the world and produce high-end results.

B2 carry bag

The location kit fits in a small shoulder bag making it easy to carry around the world.

My hat is off to Profoto for innovating yet another killer product. The B2 AirTTL Off-camera Flash system definitely gets two thumbs up from me.

Buy your own B2 AirTTL OCF system here:

B&H Photo Video: Profoto B2 AirTTL Location Kit

Adorama: Profoto B2 AirTTL Location Kit

Ice-cream portrait

Fun summertime ice-cream portraits with the Profoto B2 Location Kit.

Ladder portrait

For this portrait, I shot in TTL mode. The Nikon D750 camera and AirTTL controller nailed the exposure!

 





Sony a7R II – Nikon and Canon DSLR Killer?

Posted June 10th, 2015 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink
Sony a7R II

The Sony a7R II packs a punch with 42 megapixels, 4k video and 5-axis VR.

Sony announced a doozy of a camera today with the Sony a7R II. The specification list reads as if Sony is ready to kill off all the DSLRs from Nikon and Canon. The a7R II is impressive and I have to wonder how long it will take until Nikon and Canon respond with something new of their own to match this impressive feature set.

– 42 megapixels back-illuminated CMOS sensor
– Full frame
– ISO 50 – 102,400
– 5-axis in-camera image stabilization
– 399 phase detection AF points and 25 contrast points
– Tilting monitor
– 4k video
– Shutter speed 30s – 1/8000s
– Flash sync 1/250s
– 5fps frame rate
– Built-in Wi-Fi

Sony a7R II front lens mount

The Sony a7R II will be available in August 2015 for approximately $3200. Sony will also release a total of 8 new FE full-frame lenses by early 2016.

Adorama pre-order link: Sony a7R II at Adorama

B&H pre-order link: Sony a7R at B&H Photo Video

Sony a7R II articulating screen.

The Sony a7R II articulating screen will be extremely useful for video work.





Rainbow in Galapagos

Posted June 4th, 2015 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink
Rainbow panorama

Rainbow panorama in the Galapagos. Image captured with a Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8. Panorama stitched together using Photoshop.

Everyone loves a good rainbow shot. On the day of this photo, we were finishing up our epic Galapagos photo trip and getting ready to disembark our expedition yacht for the long flight back home. As we were packing our bags in the early morning, I poked my head out the window and saw a rainbow forming over the bay, just as the sun crested the eastern horizon. Always the photographer, I grabbed my camera and began shooting.

As our expedition yacht twisted around its mooring, different compositions came into play in the scene in front of us. First, the Ecuadorian Navy ammunition supply ship BAE Calicuchima steamed into perfect position at the base of the rainbow. I can only assume the sailors on board were looking for their own pot of gold. Then, some small fishing boats flitted through the scene on their way to shore to pick up bait. Finally, our own small pangas floated out from our expedition yacht into position in front of a double rainbow.

Like most things in photography, the scene quickly came and went. This rainbow stuck around for about ten minutes and changed in intensity as the sky went from a deep purple, to blue and then to pink. A few minutes later, at the peak of intensity, the rainbow formed into a double rainbow, then quickly disappeared along with the light mist.

Ecoventura Flamingo

Our expedition yacht, the Flamingo.

Pangas and rainbow.

Pangas and a double rainbow at sunrise in the Galapagos Islands.

 





April 2015 Newsletter is Posted

Posted April 23rd, 2015 by   |  Photography, Software, Workshops  |  Permalink

Our April 2015 Newsletter is posted here: http://visadventures.com/newsletters/2015-04-newsletter/

In this month’s newsletter:

– Greetings
– New Books
– Stuff I Like This Month
– Studio Tips: Seven Things I Learned by Photographing 500 People
– Digital Tidbits: Don’t Forget These 3 Things in the Lightroom Develop Module
– Digital Tidbits: New Software Options in 2015
– Workshop and Business Updates

newslettertilt

Check out our April 2015 newsletter for three big articles, new business updates, and tips related to new products in the photo market. One of the articles covers tools you should be using in Lightroom 5, 6 and CC. We also have an article comparing of all the new photo processing software available in 2015 including Apple Photos, Nikon Capture NXD, Nikon View NX-i, Affinity Photo, Lightroom CC. Our third article is dedicated to what I learned when photographing 500 people for a church directory. I give some great tips for setting up a studio on location, posing, and working with the public.

Read it here: April 2015 Newsletter





Rise of the Drone Cameras

Posted April 17th, 2015 by   |  Photography, Travel, Uncategorized  |  Permalink

Drone photography is gaining in popularity every single day and camera manufacturers have taken notice. We are at the very beginning of the new drone era and imaging companies are producing more advanced photo and video products every day.

GoPro was the first to really promote the use of their cameras with drones. Their line of Hero cameras integrated very well with the DJI Phantom series of quadcopters . This integration brought about a revolution in the photo industry that allowed just about anybody with $1,000 to capture high quality HD aerial footage of their adventures.

Now, in the quest for 4k drone video and super-high resolution stills, new players are jumping into the ring with incredible cameras specifically designed for drone usage. Here’s a run down of some of the new high resolution drone cameras available on the market today.

GoPro

GoPro Hero4

GoPro Hero4.

GoPro continues to up their game and this year they released the new Hero4 Black edition that captures 4k video at 30 frames per second. The Hero4 comes with a live view system that integrates with wi-fi enabled devices such as tablets and phones. Price is $499.99.

B&H Link: GoPro Hero4 Black

Sony

Sony FDR-X1000V

Sony FDR-X1000V action camera

Sony just announced a new series of 4k ActionCams called the FDR-X1000V to compete directly with the GoPro Hero 4. These use a live-view remote that you wear on your wrist for easy control of the camera from a distance. That’s cool. Price is $498.00.

B&H Link: Sony FDR-X1000V

Phase One

Phase One

Phase One aerial cameras.

Phase One just announced the iXU 180 drone camera with 80 MP CCD sensor. The price is $60k. Yes, $60,000 USD! These products are designed specifically for aerial imaging where you need the utmost in image quality for applications like surveying, scientific analysis, wind turbine inspections, crowd monitoring, and mapping.

Read more about the iXU 180 here: Phase One Industrial Imaging

Canon

Canon XC10

Canon XC10 4k camera.

Canon XC10 4K camera with a 1” sensor. This is a small form factor camera with a 24-240mm zoom lens. It has the ability to shoot 4k video, 12MP stills and grab 8MP JPGs during live recording. It is smaller than 5” in all dimensions and just under two pounds, so it could be mounted on medium to larger drones such as hexa-copters and octa-copters. Price is a very reasonable $2,499 with free shipping from Adorama and B&H.

Adorama Link: Canon XC10

B&H Link: Canon XC10

Panasonic

Panasonic Lumix GH4

Panasonic Lumix GH4.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 has been out for about a year and is commonly used in drone photography because of it’s light weight and 4k video capability. Add to that the fact that you can attach virtually any lens from any manufacturer with an adapter, and you have a powerful video platform. Price is $1,498.

B&H Link: Lumix DMC-GH4

Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Micro cinema

Blackmagic Micro Cinema camera.

During the 2015 NAB show (National Association of Broadcasters), Blackmagic announced its new Micro Cinema Camera. The Micro is designed specifically for drone cameras and POV shooting for extreme sports. This little wonder shoots Ultra HD files at 4k 30 fps or can be configured to at 1080p60. Price is set for $1,295.

Product info page: Blackmagic Micro Cinema Product Info

B&H Link: Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera 

DJI Phantom

DJI Phantom 3 pro

DJI Phantom 3 Professional.

DJI’s new Phantom 3 Professional drone comes equipped with a 4k camera on a full 3-axis gimbal. This system offers Lighbridge technology, which allows operators to see what the drone sees in real time, in HD, and from up to a mile away. Price is $1,259.

B&H Link: DJI Phantom 3 Professional

 

 

 





Photography in the Galapagos Article

Posted April 16th, 2015 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink

Nikonian_eZine_58_Cover

The newest issue of the Nikonian eZine just published one of my articles on photography in the Galapagos. Clink this link to download eZine issue 58.

The article covers:

  • Gear
  • Packing
  • Photo experience
  • Daily schedule
  • Techniques
  • Tripods
  • Camera settings
  • More

Also, follow this link to the eZine archive to download free issues from previous editions of the Nikonian eZines. http://ezine.nikonians.org/archive.html  





Snapseed 2.0 Released

Posted April 9th, 2015 by   |  Photography, Software, Technology  |  Permalink

Snapseed 2.0

A brand new version of Snapseed for mobile image editing is live, now called Snapseed 2.0. I’m on the beta team and have been testing this new version for a few months. Version 2.0 is a significant update and best of all, it is free!

This program is a winner because of all the local and selective adjustments you are able to incorporate into image development. Also, you are able to work in stacks that allow you to go back and re-edit changes you’ve previously made. This is a solid mobile image-editing app and should be on everyone’s phone or tablet.

IPenguins

Here are a few Snapseed 2.0 links:
iOS: Snapseed 2.0 iOS Info and Download
Android: Snapseed 2.0 Android Info and Download
Product forum: User to user Snapseed forum
G+ page: Snapseed 2.0 Google+ Page

 

Here’s a cool video from Google showing how easy and quick it is to use Snapseed:





New Book – The Nikon Autofocus System

Posted April 3rd, 2015 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

NikonAutofocus_Cover_small

Announcing my newest book: The Nikon Autofocus System – Mastering focus for sharp images every time.

Publisher RockyNook and I are in production right now and targeting a November 2015 release date. We’ll have pre-order links ready in the next few weeks. More information coming very soon!

RockyNook – The Nikon Autofocus System web page.

Book Description

With today’s advanced camera technology, achieving focus on a photographic subject seems like it should be a straightforward task. But many photographers know that it can be deceptively difficult, especially when shooting moving subjects or in challenging situations. Now, there is a complete guide available for Nikon shooters that will help them get tack-sharp photos every time.

In The Nikon Autofocus System, photographer Mike Hagen, author of the bestselling The Nikon Creative Lighting System, takes his deep knowledge of Nikon technology and concentrates on its focus features. In this book, which covers all current Nikon DSLR models, Hagen fully explains how Nikon autofocus works, including detailed discussions of all the autofocus modules, drive systems, and camera buttons and menus. He also devotes an entire chapter to explore how focus works with Nikon’s lenses.

Armed with this general knowledge, Hagen then dives deep and offers camera setups, settings, and best practices for specific field techniques that address the photographic genres that are notoriously challenging for focus: action and sports (indoor and outdoor), wildlife (including birds in flight), and macro photography. He also covers genres such as portrait, landscape, underwater, low-light, and street photography. Hagen not only advises on the best ways to set up the camera and focus systems, he gives helpful tips and tricks throughout the book.

The Nikon Autofocus System also covers:

• Live view autofocus methods and settings
• Achieving great focus in video
• AF tracking
• AF shooting styles, such as back-button AF and shutter-release AF
• HDR, panoramas, and other techniques for shooting with a tripod
• An entire chapter on additional terms and techniques, such as hyperfocal distance, calibrating lenses, focus and flash photography, and more





Photographing Local History – Skansie Netshed

Posted March 25th, 2015 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink
Skansie Netshed

Skansie Netshed in Gig Harbor, WA.

Creating artistic photos of my home town of Gig Harbor, Washington is one of my favorite things to do. I love capturing the rich heritage of my town and finding different ways to represent its local icons.

One of the more important families in the history of Gig Harbor was the Skansie family. They were boat builders in the early 1900’s and produced over 100 commercial fishing vessels and ferries. Their original netshed still stands along the waterfront. A few years ago, the Gig Harbor Historical Society was able to secure funding to refurbish the Skansie Netshed and open it to the public. Their work helped beautify and preserve this classic building.

For this image, I waited for a day with puffy clouds in the sky, then took my Nikon D800 down to the waterfront with a single lens, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. I kept my kit light and decided to leave my tripod at home. I shot a few compositions of the building, then decided the best look for the given light was a tight crop with no other distracting elements such as buildings or boats. The D800 has an incredible dynamic range, so I exposed a single image to hold detail in the clouds. In Lightroom, I pulled out a bit of shadow detail then sent the file to Nik Silver Efex Pro to convert it to black and white. After the conversion, I brought it back to Lightroom to do the final crop.

Here’s some more information from the Harbor History Museum’s blog:

http://harborhistorymuseum.blogspot.com/2013/08/skansie-netshed.html

For more information on the remaining 17 netsheds in Gig Harbor, follow this link:

17 Netsheds Remaining in Gig Harbor

 





Best of Vancouver 2015 Award

Posted March 20th, 2015 by   |  Photography, Uncategorized  |  Permalink

My old business just won the 2015 Best of Vancouver Award for commercial photography. This is pretty cool, and I’ll take the accolades, but I haven’t lived or worked in Vancouver for over ten years now. It’s good to know that I’m the best in the business, even in places where I don’t work!

Here’s the link to the press release and a bit more about the award:

Best of Vancouver

Our new award trophy for the Best of Vancouver 2015 Award for Commercial Photography.

Best of Vancouver 2015 Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Out There Images Receives 2015 Best of Vancouver Award

Vancouver Award Program Honors the Achievement

VANCOUVER March 12, 2015 — Out There Images has been selected for the 2015 Best of Vancouver Award in the Commercial Photography category by the Vancouver Award Program.

Each year, the Vancouver Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Vancouver area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2015 Vancouver Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Vancouver Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Vancouver Award Program

The Vancouver Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Vancouver area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Vancouver Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Vancouver Award Program

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What is the Vancouver Award Program?

Each year, in and around the Vancouver area, the Vancouver Award Program chooses only the best local businesses. We focus on companies that have demonstrated their ability to use various marketing methods to grow their business in spite of difficult economic times. The companies chosen exemplify the best of small business; often leading through customer service and community involvement.

For most companies, this recognition is a result of your dedication and efforts as well as the work of others in your organization that have helped build your business. Your team is now a part of an exclusive group of small businesses that have achieved this selection.





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