Marie Photoshoot with Pocket wizards

The last blogpost was about the technical part of my review of the Pocket wizards.
On Saturday I went out with one of my favorite models Marie to test the Pocket wizards in a real life situation.
The main idea behind this shoot was to leave the meter at home (which is really weird for me) and see how far E-TTL would get me. Well actually I already knew that E-TTL would do just fine for this shoot but leaving the meter at home still feels weird. All shots you see in this blog post were done with E-TTL in Manual mode, all ISO100/200 with shutter times between 1/500 – 1/8000, especially the hypersync from the Pocketwizard units were very handy with some setups…..

The gear used for this photoshoot was:
Canon 5DMKII
Canon 24-105 L
Pocketwizard TT1 and TT5
Canon ST-E2
Canon 580EXII
Canon 430EXII
Rogue Flashbender


We choose two locations, both close to our studio.
The idea for today was to test the pocket wizard system in a situation we encounter a lot, bright sun and weird angles under which I have to use the small flash system, this can be a problem for the normal system using the 580EXII as master or the ST-E2. I do have to add that this was just a fun shoot, which maybe took 90 minutes in total.

For the first location Marie was standing in the shade and I used one 580EXII to light her from an angle.
A second strobe (430EXII) was used as accent light. To also fire the 430EXII I used the ST-E2 which was mounted on top of the TT1 via the hotshoe on the TT1, it does look a bit funny but it works flawless, and in the end that’s what important. The main problem with the location the accent light is placed is the light spill that will hit the wall from the strobe. Enter the amazing Rogue Flashbender (really love this tool), I flipped the flashbender to the side of the strobe and this way I cut the light from hitting the wall behind Marie and getting the accent light only. Do remember that being able to “steer” the light is very important. I love to work with big and small modifiers but often I will use the strobes just bare and being able to control my light with something like the flashbender is price less. Here are the images from that location. First one is with only the 580EXII, the rest is with two strobes (including the first image in this blogpost).

For the next location I used the 430EXII as main light and the 580EXII was aimed at the trees above Marie were some shoes and parts of a skateboard were hanging. The Pocketwizards were used for the 580EXII and the ST-E2 for the 430EXII. Immediately it became painfully clear that working with the pocketwizards was much easier when walking around, with the ST-E2 you will always have to make sure you are in sight of the strobes (because they don’t work with radio signals), also when the sun was hitting the sensor at a certain angle the 430EXII simply would not fire, although I have to add this only happened once.

For the last location we used a very simple location in the bright sun, again with both strobes hitting Marie. In the final shot I used one of the accent lights to create the effect of shooting into the sun. The sun you see is in fact the 430EXII.

Second location, bicycle tunnel
The next location is a challenging one because in the back there is light entering the tunnel and it can throw off the E-TTL system, which indeed happened, but by adding about 1 stop of extra flash power everything was in “sync” again. For the first image I wanted a little bit of movement in the shot and Marie tried several things but I ended up with this one, somehow I just love the almost scared look from Marie, like someone is chasing her.

For the next setup I used the flashbender as a big bounce card to soften the light.

A lot of people often think that I only shoot with the more expensive studio/location Elinchrom strobes. And without a doubt I will never give those up of course. I however strongly believe in the term “horses for courses” and that’s why I also love to use the small flash system, one of the problems however is the way you have to trigger the strobes, missing the radio triggers will result in limitations in your setups, and that’s something I hate, I want to be able to walk around my setup without loosing my strobes, and I want to place my lights in every location I choose. In the past I used the Skyports for this and used the strobes on manual mode, which works flawless of course, however with the Pocketwizards I’m now able to do the same thing (using radio triggers) but also keep the E-TTL option of my camera. I do have to add that for me shooting in full manual mode always works best, by forcing myself today to totally rely on E-TTL I must say I’ve grown more fond of the Pocketwizards because I did find myself not worrying about line of sight and also not worrying about metering the light, I did have to “chimp” a lot more than I normally do, the main problem without the meter is to make 100% sure the light is hitting the face and not other parts of the model or background. In the end I think there will be no difference in speed between metering everything and using E-TTL, and I still love both, owning the Pocketwizards I’m very content by still having my E-TTL, so I can highly recommend them, the set is not cheap but when you shoot a lot with small flash you really can’t life without them.
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11 replies
    • Frank Doorhof
      Frank Doorhof says:

      Feel free to comment, why not ?nIt’s a bit my thing I guess, I hardly have my models looking into the camera to be honest I always find that taking a bit away from the “magic”. Except with the more glamour shots I will often have “eyecontact” with the models.nnAgain it’s just a personal preference, when my client want’s it different I can always do it of course 😀

  1. Damir Tursic
    Damir Tursic says:

    So do the PW enable you to get sync speeds above the normal 1/200, 1/250? Because with the IR transmitter it would lock it at max 200/250, am i right?

    • Frank Doorhof
      Frank Doorhof says:

      As mentioned in the review yes (one post below the photoshoot).nYou can sync up to 1/8000 with small flash, without using HSS by the way (but Hypersync), and with studio strobes it depends on the strobes. With the D-Lite I can get up to 1/1000 and slightly higher, with the RX not higher than 1/320.

  2. Mette Brandt
    Mette Brandt says:

    Again, awesome photos, Frank! But a question, I am using the Elinchrom 500 bxri. What would be the benefit to use the PW instead of the Skyports in studio?

    • Frank Doorhof
      Frank Doorhof says:

      In the studio little, except powertracking maybe.nOutside a lot, breaking the 1/125 can help a lot when shooting with available light of course.

    • Frank Doorhof
      Frank Doorhof says:

      99% is the light, after that I added a bit Tonal Contrast from NIK and finished the colors with curves (can also be done with Alien Skin Exposure) But the whole look is not in the filters 😀 it’s all light.

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