Profoto just sent me a prototype lighting kit to test called the Profoto B1 AirTTL. This is a brand-new wireless battery-powered off-camera flash that is designed to work with the Nikon camera system under full TTL control. Previously, Profoto released a TTL B1 kit for Canon, so this is exciting news for Nikon shooters.
I already own a set of Profoto D1 Air studio lights that are powered by traditional A/C electricity. I love the power (energy) and quality of light I get from my Profoto gear, so being able to take a battery-operated off-camera Profoto B1 flash into the field is very cool. Profoto designed the B1 AirTTL lights so that all their light shaping tools work seamlessly, including softboxes, Octas, reflectors, beauty dishes and snoots.
The specific kit they sent me to test was the B1 500 AirTTL Location Kit. The Location Kit is designed to be a portable lighting system that you can take to a remote location and achieve studio-quality light. The kit contains:
2 x B1 off-camera flashes
2 x batteries
1 x Fast Charger
1 x Car Charger
1 x Tailor-made backpack with room to fit additional gear
Since I’m in-between international trips, I had just a short period of time to learn the B1 AirTTL operation and take some sample shots before having to send the prototype kit back to Profoto HQ. After opening the box and unpacked the gear. I mounted the Air Remote TTL-N control unit on the top of my Nikon D800 and turned on the B1 flashes. Setting up the proper channel and groups for operation was a piece of cake and I started taking photographs immediately.
If you have used the Nikon iTTL Wireless Flash system, then adapting to the Profoto AirTTL system will be a piece of cake. There are a few hidden menu items that you’ll find by reading the manual, but overall, the system is ingeniously simple to operate.
Here’s a four-minute video giving a quick overview of the B1 AirTTL system. The video shows how to adjust flash settings and how to use the kit with your Nikon camera.
The flash heads I tested were the 500Ws units. They are adjustable in 1/10 f-stop increments over a 9-stop power range. These AirTTL units will operate in full manual mode or in full TTL mode. In manual mode operation, you have access to the full 9-stop power range from full power (10) to minimum power (2). In TTL mode, you can adjust the flashes from -2.0 EV to +2.0 EV.
The TTL system allows remote setting and independent control of three different groups A, B, and C. Profoto has programmed up to 8 channels, so you can share the room with seven other photographers shooting the same system and each can have independent control of three groups of flashes.
I really only had a few hours available for a test shoot, so I photographed a soccer player on a wet asphalt driveway immediately after a rainstorm. The sky was rapidly changing between sunny and cloudy, so shooting the flashes in TTL mode made it incredibly easy to just shoot and go. I used a Profoto 2′x3′ softbox for the key light and a Profoto umbrella for the rim light behind the soccer player.
I had the soccer player pose, run, jump for about 45 minutes. My guess is that I took about 200 shots during testing and real-world shooting. Each B1 battery still had a bit more than 1/3 charge remaining before I called it a day. I’m happy with that performance, considering the battery pack is fairly small and the B1 heads produce up to 500 Ws of energy per pop.
Profoto has created a high quality, powerful and easy to use location lighting system that I’d take anywhere. The B1 AirTTL flashes were truly a joy to use and I highly recommend them for any pro shooter who wants the best.
You’ll soon be able to purchase your own kit for Nikon at photo retailers everywhere. Here’s a link to the Profoto B1 AirTTL kits at B&H, they should have the Nikon TTL kit available soon:
Profoto AirTTL Lighting Kits at B&H Photo
Here’s a link to the ProFoto Website for more information on the AirTTL system:
Profoto 500 AirTTL Product Information
Here’s an excellent article from NBC News regarding the ebola virus. It should help rest some fears for those of you considering travel to East Africa for a photo safari. The most important points of the article are related to how the ebola virus spreads and that it is not easy to transmit.
Here’s a direct link to the article: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ebola-virus-outbreak/why-are-americans-so-scared-ebola-n188806
I’m packing up for a ten-day photo adventure trip to Iceland with a group of intrepid photographers. Our photographic goals are birds and landscapes, and we’ll be shooting like crazy from sun up to sun down – which is a really long time in the Icelandic summer! Each day will bring puffins, glaciers, icebergs, whales, gannets, skua, volcanoes, sheep and gorgeous light. Can’t wait.
Here’s the gear I’m bringing for this trip:
Peak Design Capture Clip Pro and Leash system (use code mhagen for 10% off)
Plugs and adapters
This year’s trip is sold out, but I have two Iceland photo adventures planned for 2015, one in Winter and the other in Summer. Check them out on our workshops page if you are interested.
In June 2014, Apple announced that they would be ceasing future development and support of their Aperture software program. Many current users of Apple Aperture have started moving their libraries to Adobe Lightroom, so Adobe just produced a guide to help photographers who want to make the switch.
The guide, available for free, helps current Aperture users make the transition by defining terms, helping with folder exporting, and helping users understand what will/won’t transfer across. It is interesting to note that in the document Adobe states that they are creating a migration tool at some point in the future. The six page step-by-step guide takes readers through backing up their library, exporting images (originals and versions), and importing into Lightroom.
A few nights ago I took a quick trip to South Sound Speedway with my son and my father for a boy’s night out. The goal was two-fold: have a great time with the guys and create some compelling racing images.
The grandstands are set up quite a ways back from the track, so creating clean images of the race cars was actually pretty tough. Because the fence obscured the track on the near side, I knew I’d need to capture the cars as they passed the advertising banners on the far side of the track. Rather than try to crop out the banners, I decided to include them in the image for better overall color.
I wanted my shots to convey motion, so I deliberately chose a longer shutter speed of 1/30 second to 1/50 second. Since I was using my 70-200mm f/2.8 with a 1.4x teleconverter, I expected quite a few blurry shots as I panned with the cars. I set the camera for continuous frame rate and fired off a series of 5 shots each time the cars passed in front of the advertising signs. By the time the night was over, I had rattled off over 1,000 pictures, but less than half or 1/3 of them were sharp enough to use. The rest were a blurry mess because of the long shutter speed.
The most difficult part of getting shots like these is learning to pan with the motion. If your move your camera at a faster or slower angular rate than the cars, then you’ll get pronounced blur in the cars. If you move at exactly the same rate as the cars, then they will appear sharp while the background will appear blurry. As long as something on the car is sharp, then you’ve done your job well. Even if you have multiple cars in the scene, as long as one of the cars is sharp, then the photo is going to work.
Adobe has released three significant software updates this week to Photoshop, Camera RAW and Lightroom. For Nikon D810 shooters, the updates give them the ability to work on RAW files in a program other than Nikon Capture NX-D.
Adobe released Lightroom 5.6 today which supports three new cameras, 22 new lenses and fixes a few bugs from previous releases.
Camera RAW 8.6 will update automatically with your Creative Cloud subscription.
Panasonic LUMIX AG-GH4
Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ1000
Canon Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM
Canon Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
Canon Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD A010E
Canon Tamron 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 DiIII VC B011EM
Nikon Nikon 1 NIKKOR VR 70-300mm f/4.5 – 5.6
Nikon Tamon 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD A010N
Pentax Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A013
Phase One A/S Schneider Kreuznach LS 40-80mm f/4.0-5.6
Sony Alpha Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A013
Sony Alpha Sony 28mm f/2.8
Sony Alpha Sony 16mm f/2.8 Fisheye
Sony Alpha Sony 100mm f/2.8 MACRO
Sony Alpha Sony DT 16-105mm f/3.5-5.6
Sony Alpha Sony DT 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3
Sony Alpha Sony DT 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3
Sony Alpha Sony 70-200mm f/2.8G
Sony Alpha Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G SSM
Sony Alpha Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G SSM
Sony Alpha Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G SSM II
Sony Alpha Sony 135mm f/2.8 [T4.5] STF
Sony Alpha Sony 300mm f/2.8 G SSM II
Sony E Zeiss Touit 2.8/50M
We’ve been staying busy around here at Visual Adventures. Here are some tear sheets that were published in July, 2014. The first tear sheets shown below were for a fundraiser we photographed for the NW Furniture Bank. These images ran in South Sound Magazine. The second group of tear sheets were for an article on digital asset management that we contributed to Bottom Line Personal Magazine.
As Josef Scaylea said, “Taking pictures is not good enough, get them published!”
We’ve just posted the last of our six videos on gear designed for getting your camera low to the ground. Check out all the videos over at our YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/MikeHagenPhoto
Our videos from this series covered a wide gamut of gear ranging from high-end to low budget. Here’s the list:
In case you want to watch all the videos on this site, here they are:
Over the last week or two I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on the waters of Washington State’s Puget Sound region. This area is chock full of opportunities for maritime photography and I’ve been shooting like crazy to capture the scenes.
While shooting pictures last week, I consciously planned for a number of them to show the context of the area. I wanted the shots to be more than just a pretty scene or a boat on the water. Rather, I wanted the viewer of the images to gain a better understanding of the setting and environment.
One of the best skills you can have as a travel photographer is the ability to create context for your imagery. For example, it is very easy to take a picture of a boat on the water, but it is much more difficult to illustrate how that boat relates to its surroundings. You should know that when viewers look at your images, they are always thinking about more than the image itself. They are trying to figure out answers to the five W’s – who, what, where, when, why?
Who is in the image?
What is the image about?
Where was it taken?
When was it taken?
Why are you showing this to me?
If your photograph is able to visually answer these questions for the viewer, then you’ve done a good job of creating the context for the image. Obviously, not all images need to answer all of these questions. In fact, many times images work just fine without answering any of these questions. But, if you are trying to tell a story with your images, then you must answer these questions visually by thinking through the design and composition of the photograph.
Always be thinking about how you can position your subject with other elements in the scene. Rather than shooting an object that is isolated by itself, it needs to be positioned next to something in order for it’s context to be understood. Use things like buildings, trees, crowds of people, parking lots, and roads as background elements in the scene to help the viewer understand location.
This is the obvious corollary to the juxtaposition tip, but asks you to go one step further by deliberately including something in the background that is well-known. In the case of the images shown here, I included landmarks such as the Olympic Mountains, the historic Port Towsend Post Office building, Mount Rainier and the Port Townsend Paper Company factory. Well-known and famous landmarks are an easy way to help the viewer immediately grasp where the image was taken.
The most difficult part of creating context is figuring out how much of the background you should include to let the viewer know where the photograph was taken. If you include too much by using a super wide angle lens, then the impact of the subject can be lost. If you include too little with a long telephoto lens, then the viewer doesn’t have enough visual information to understand the location of the photo. The solution is to make these types of shots with lenses between 35mm and 200mm focal lengths. In fact, a couple of zoom lenses like a 24-70mm and the 70-200mm make the perfect pair for creating context.
Today, Nikon officially released the full version of Nikon Capture NX-D 1.0.0. This release marks the end of support for Nikon Capture NX 2 and ushers in a new chapter for Nikon software. As I mentioned in previous posts and video blogs, the new NX-D software is a far cry from the previous Capture NX 2 software since Nikon chose not to include many of the higher-end editing tools. It is unfortunate that tools like color control points, HSL adjustments, and selection brushes won’t be included in NX-D.
NX-D is a basic RAW converter and I have loaded the program on my computer. At this point, my main use for NX-D will be processing image files from brand new Nikon cameras before other software packages (i.e. Lightroom) have the capability. There’s almost always a month or two delay from when a camera is released until 3rd party software companies are able to process the camera’s RAW files, so NX-D will fill that time gap. I don’t see using NX-D for any significant image processing in my overall workflow.
Download Full Version of Capture NX-D here: Nikon Capture NX-D