New CreativeLive Class: Outdoor Flash Photography

Posted May 30th, 2017 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography, Workshops  |  Permalink

Into to outdoor flash

Join me on June 6th for a free live broadcast of our newest CreativeLive workshop: Introduction to Outdoor Flash Photography.

Here’s the direct link to RSVP and watch event live –> CreativeLive Introduction to Outdoor Flash Photography

Course Details

How To Overpower The Sun For Great Photos

Relying on natural light may work for many scenarios, but how do you learn to control light more effectively with flash? A small flash can help make the most of your outdoor situations whether working in direct or dappled lighting. It gives you the ability to overpower sunlight and add warmth to overcast days.

Mike Hagen will walk through how to easily take control of your lighting and ultimately control of your photos. If you’re new to using a flash, this course will teach you:

– The essentials of your camera and flash settings
– How to build and set ambient exposure
– Using your flash on and off camera
– How to freeze action and add motion blur
– How to use modifiers and reflectors with off camera flash

No matter if you’re shooting portraits, sports, or macro photography, Mike Hagen will show you all the ways to define your subject and enhance your images. This class is a perfect follow-up to Mike’s How to Shoot with Your First Flash and will give you the confidence to use your flash in all situations.





Simple Location Lighting Kit for Cuban Boxing Portraits – BTS

Posted January 25th, 2017 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography, Travel  |  Permalink

Cuban boxer

Portrait of a young boxer. Havana, Cuba. Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8, Profoto white 32″ umbrella.

Portable Lighting Kit

Creating unique images while traveling to popular destinations like Cuba is always difficult. One of the easiest ways you can step up your photography game while traveling is to bring along a simple location lighting kit.

As lots of other photographers have noted throughout the years (i.e. Strobist), one of the easiest lighting kits for traveling is a foldable light stand, a white umbrella, and a small off-camera flash (speedlight). This little kit fits in most luggage and doesn’t weigh much at all. The extra pop of light you get with this setup will make a big difference in the overall impact of your travel images.

 

BTS

Photo showing lighting equipment on location with boxer and blue wall.

Behind the Scenes

During our photo workshop to Cuba this year, I wanted to spend some time at a boxing gym taking portraits of athletes in training. I knew that a boxing venue would be a prime location to create compelling images, so I brought along a Manfrotto 6-foot light stand, a Profoto White 32” umbrella and a couple of small Nikon flashes. When we arrived at the boxing training center in Havana, I found a beautiful blue wall to serve as a backdrop and set up the lighting kit about 6 feet from the wall.

Since I was guiding a group of photographers, I set up my remote flash so that it would trigger as a simple slave. The workshop participants used a wide variety of Canon, Fuji, Leica and Nikon cameras, so I couldn’t use any brand-specific wireless triggering technology. Each photographer would be able to trigger the remote flash with their own on-camera flash set to manual output. I placed my remote flash on the light stand and set the power to manual output at about 1/8 energy. Again, I programmed the remote flash to work as a slave unit, so it would trigger as soon as it sensed a pulse of light from the photographer’s on-camera flash.

After snapping a few test shots to dial in the exposure, we set about creating portraits of the young boxers. Since the lighting kit was so simple and light, we could quickly change location, power, and height as our creative energy took over.

 

Profoto boxer

Here’s the simple setup with the Profoto umbrella, photographer, and model situated in front of a blue wall. The photographer is triggering my remote flash with her own speedlight on the camera’s hotshoe. Ignore the flash on the ground, that’s just an extra flash that wasn’t being used at the time.

Try it Yourself

This was a really fun photo shoot and it was very easy to set up. I encourage you to consider bringing a small lighting kit along on your future travels. A kit like this is inexpensive and doesn’t take much extra space at all. I guarantee your images will stand out from all the other tourist’s photographs!

Here are some more pics from the boxing training center in Havana, Cuba.

Boxing training

Students learning boxing skills. Havana, Cuba. Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8.

group

Group pic! Here are some of the kids at the boxing center. Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8.

Boxer focus

Young boxer’s focus. Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8.

three boxers

Three boxers in training. Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8

yawn

Becoming a champion is hard work! Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8.





CreativeLive Classes

Posted December 12th, 2016 by   |  Computers, Flash Photography, Photography, Workshops  |  Permalink

Over the last year, I’ve been working with CreativeLive to teach a wide variety of classes aimed at helping photographers become proficient shooters. The topics range from panoramas to studio photography to Nikon wireless flash and autofocus. CreativeLive is one of the premiere educational platforms available today and I’m proud to be a part of their team of high-caliber professional educators.

Here are links to the current classes posted at CreativeLive.com. Be sure to check out classes from their other instructors as well!

CreativeLive Mike Hagen

Here are the classes and links.

All Classes – www.creativelive.com/instructor/mike-hagen

Build DIY studio

Build a DIY Home Studio

Nikon flash workshop

Nikon Wireless Flash for Creative Photography

Nikon autofocus class

Using the Nikon Autofocus System

photographing panoramas

Photographing Panoramas for Large Prints

Creating panoramas

Creating Panoramas in Photoshop and Lightroom

 

 





New Nikon Compacts

Posted February 24th, 2016 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography  |  Permalink
Nikon DL

The Nikon DL18-50.

Nikon announced a bevy of new compact cameras for CP+ 2016. The cool thing about the higher-end models is they are large-sensor compact cameras. It is clear that Nikon is listening to their user-base and offering professional quality cameras that don’t weigh as much as a DSLR.

In my opinion, two of the cameras are very enticing and worthy of your attention: The DL18-50 and the DL24-85. Both of them have a f/1.8-f/2.8 fluorine coated lens and the 18-50 has the Nano coated lens to help reduce lens flare at the wide-angle settings.

Nikon DL24-85

The Nikon DL24-85

The DL18-50 and DL24-85 have a compact form and are small enough to fit in your pocket. Nikon is claiming the DL cameras have DSLR functionality, which includes fast/accurate autofocus, a blazingly-fast frame rate of 20 FPS, 20.8 megapixel 1″ sensor, and 4K video. If these specs hold up in real-world shooting situations, then these little powerhouse cameras will be tremendous for travel photography, street photography, and multi-media story telling.

As a prolific user of Nikon’s wireless flash system, I was happy to see that these cameras support the Nikon CLS (creative lighting system). I’m looking forward to testing out these enticing little cameras.

Nikon DL

The DL series cameras support the Nikon CLS (Creative Lighting System) and wireless flash photography.

Check out these early reviews from Nikon shooters Steve Simon and Drew Gurian:

Steve Simon DL Review at ThePassionatePhotographer

Drew Gurian DL Preview at DrewGurian.com

Purchase Links here:

DL18_50_LCD_2.high

Nikon DL18-50 articulating screen

Nikon DL18-50 F/1.8-2.8 Compact Camera – $846.95

DL24-85 with pop-up flash

DL24-85 with pop-up flash

Nikon DL24-85 F/1.8-2.8 Compact Camera  – $646.95

DL24-500 super-zoom

DL24-500 super-zoom

Nikon DL25-500 F/2.8-5.6 Compact Camera  – $996.95

Nikon B700 compact

Nikon B700 compact

Nikon Coolpix B700 Digital Point & Shoot Camera – $496.95

Nikon B500 compact

Nikon B500 compact

Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Point & Shoot Camera – Black  – $296.95

Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Point & Shoot Camera – Red – $296.95

Nikon A900 compact

Nikon A900 compact

Nikon Coolpix A900 Digital Point & Shoot Camera – Silver – $396.95

Nikon Coolpix A900 Digital Point & Shoot Camera – Black – $396.95





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!

 





Setting Up a Portable Location Studio

Posted March 16th, 2015 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography  |  Permalink

This week I’m shooting about 250 portraits for Harbor Covenant Church. I’ll share more of the results of the photo shoot in a future blog post, but in the meantime, I wanted to show how I set up the studio with this time-lapse video. My goal for the photo shoot is to produce a bright white background for each of the portraits. To do this, I used a white muslin backdrop and lit it with four slave flashes in umbrellas. These background flashes are set to produce about 1.0 to 1.5 stops more light than the Profoto D1 monolights I’m using for the people in the foreground.

 

I’m triggering everything optically, which is another way to say that all the flashes are set to fire when they see a flash pulse from the main camera. For the Profoto D1 monolights, I’ve set them to trigger using the IR mode. For the Nikon flashes, they are all set to trigger in SU-4 mode. On my Nikon D800 camera, I’m triggering everything with a Nikon SB-700 flash set to manual output so that when it fires, everything else fires. All slave flashes are set for manual output and I metered everything using my trusty old Sekonic L-358 (no longer sold).

Location studio portraits

Some of the early shots from the location studio. Nice white backgrounds and lots of happy people!

Here’s all the gear I used to create the location studio.

Profoto D1 Monolights

Tether Tools Aero Tether Table for 15″ MacBook Pro

Gitzo GT3542L Mountaineer Carbon Fiber Tripod

Manfrotto and Creative Light light stands

Creative Light Back Light Stand

Nikon SB-910

Nikon SB-900

Nikon SB-700

Impact Background Studio Stand

White muslin backdrop 10’x24′

Apple MacBook Pro 15.4″ Retina

Adobe Lightroom 5

Location studio

An overview of the on-location studio I set up at Harbor Covenant Church using six flashes to produce a white background.





Announcement: The Nikon Creative Lighting System, 3rd Edition

Posted February 24th, 2015 by   |  Flash Photography  |  Permalink

Cover Design 2312 U1 Hagen Nikon CLS 3 new

Great news. I’m now able to officially announce the release of the 3rd edition of our best-selling book, The Nikon Creative Lighting System, 3rd Edition: Using the SB-500, SB-600, SB-700, SB-800, SB-900, SB-910, and R1C1 Flashes.

There are lots of updates in this 3rd edition. Here are just a few:
– New chapter for the SB-500 flash
– Updated content
– Instructions for new Nikon camera bodies such as the D750, D4s, D810, D610, D7100, D5300, D3300, and more.
– Updated photographs, figures, and tables
– New how-to examples

The 3rd edition is slated to ship May 30th, 2015 and we are taking pre-orders on Amazon at this link:

The Nikon Creative Lighting System, 3rd Edition

NCLS_3rd_Edition_Amazon_tilt





Profoto B1 AirTTL for Nikon

Posted September 3rd, 2014 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography  |  Permalink
ProFoto B1 AirTTL

Soccer player taken with Profoto B1 500 AirTTL location kit. These are battery powered 500 Ws flashes that work under TTL control with Nikon dSLR cameras.

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.

ProFoto AirTTL Backpack

The B1 500 AirTTL Location Kit comes with 2 flashes, 2 batteries, chargers and a high-end backpack for easy transport.

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.

AirTTL in the field

Setting up the AirTTL system on location is easy. Here, I’m using two heads with a Profoto softbox and a ProFoto umbrella.

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.

ProFoto soccer shoot

For this shot, I used two Profoto 500 AirTTL flashes in TTL mode. My camera was the Nikon D800 with a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. I set up the exposure for 1/250 second at f/8.0.

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.

AirTTL Control Unit

Two ProFoto 500 AirTTL flash heads shown with a Nikon D800 and the Profoto Air Remote TTL-N control unit.

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.

Air Remote TTL-N

Here’s the user interface for the Air Remote TTL-N unit. Operation is very simple with button controls for just about everything. Here, I have group A set for +0.8, group B set for -1.3 and group C set for +0.2. The system is set for TTL mode and front curtain sync. The exclamation point means that this is a beta test unit.

Beta test unit

Since this was a beta test unit, the final product might have different or additional features and capabilities when it is released.

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.

Location soccer portrait

Outdoor location portraits are easy to pull off with the Profoto AirTTL lights. Set ’em up and shoot!

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

Serious soccer shot

One final shot for the road.





May 2014 Newsletter is Posted

Posted May 23rd, 2014 by   |  Computers, Flash Photography, Photography, Software, Travel, Workshops  |  Permalink

May_2014_Newsletter_clip

Check out our May 2014 Visual Adventures Newsletter for great articles on photo technique as well as updates on our trips.

In this Newsletter:
– Greetings
– Stuff I Like This Month
– May GOAL Assignment: Shoot at High ISO
– Photo Techniques: Three Steps to a Beautiful White Background
– Digital Tidbits: Analog Efex Pro 2
– Photo Techniques: Telling a Simple Story Through Photos
– Workshop and Business Updates

Link: May 2014 Visual Adventures Newsletter





Profoto RFi Review

Posted November 15th, 2012 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography  |  Permalink

I’ve just written up a review of the brand-new Profoto RFi lighting equipment and posted it over at Nikonians.org. Profoto’s gear has always been top-notch and  their RFi softboxes take it to the next level. If you are looking for the best light shapers to use with your Nikon or Canon speedlights, then you’d be hard-pressed to find a better match than this equipment.

Here’s the link: Profoto RFi Review.

Profoto RFi 3' Octa Softbox

Profoto RFi 3′ Octa Softbox





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