Tag Archive for: tips

Adding a touch of color

In the past few days you have seen some images from the workshop “on location in Emmeloord” with our model Claudia where we look for interesting locations around our own studio.
Today the final part.

One of the things I absolutely love to do on location (or in the studio) is add a touch of color.
Always remember that color evokes emotion.
Think about watching a movie without any tinting or music, you will probably pretty quickly leave the cinema disappointed, unless of course the story is strong enough. But in most cases the reason we love certain scenes/movies is because of the tinting/music used.

So today let’s take a look at some images where I added color on location.

This image is without any added color.
I’m using a Hensel Porty here with the 14″ reflector.
This reflector gives a lot more light than a standard reflector and makes it possible to shoot amazing images even in bright sunlight.
I’m using a variable ND filter to be able to shoot on a wider aperture. When using the Geekoto system I can chose for the HSS options where you can shoot on faster shutter speeds but with standard battery packs like the Hensel Porty you are stuck with the X-sync which is often between 1/125 and 1/200. In situations like this that means that you are almost always shooting at F16 or F22. By using a variable ND filter you can take away some/a lot of light and shoot wide open or on any aperture you like.

For the next shot I’m using a second Hensel Porty but this one is covered with a thick red gel.
I’m using the black diffusion filter here (from the same kit as the variable ND filter) to create a nice lens flare.

I love both shots, but the second one does give me a nice extra mood/feel.
You might say that you can add this in Photoshop in postprocessing, but I disagree, you can mostly easily see when it’s done in real life or added in post processing.

Now you might remember the blogpost where I showed you the Geekoto system for the first time with the red gels.
Let’s to refresh your memory show some of those images.

These were shot with the Geekoto GT200 and GT250.
Small strobes that can shoot on HSS. As you can see I’m creating a nice Day2Night look here and the red really jumps off ow youthe background.

Now for the next images I’m using the exact same setup in the same location but here I switched the Geekoto for the 1200W Hensel porty system.

The Hensel system does have a lot more power but doesn’t support HSS and as you can see they give you results that are incredibly close to each other.
I think this is one of the most interesting parts of the smaller flash systems like the Geekoto they don’t like like much compared to a system like the Porty but due to the use of HSS they do pack an incredible punch.

Of course they can’t compete with the Hensel on durability, recycling speed, flash duration and raw power. But if you don’t need that raw power I think you can do awesome things with the smaller systems, something that wasn’t possible in the past when we still were depending on speedlights only.


Looking back at the first year of problem-free tethering and connecting photographers…

Exactly a year ago we introduced a new tether brand: IQwire. We used the 10-meter cable a lot. Problem-free! But there is more. Read this update about 1-year problem-free tethering with IQwire.

Facebook sends you reminders of what happened a year ago. And today Facebook showed the official announcement of us distributing IQwire in Europe.

What is tethering?

Shooting tethered is one of the best upgrades you can do to your workflow. In case you wonder “Tethering?” When we talk about shooting tethered we mean that we connect our camera to a larger display to see the images we shoot right away. This can be on a tablet like Android or iOs, but also Windows or Mac of course.

In the studio or on location this means you can immediately judge your images for focus, lighting, etc. But you can also add presets to the images so your client (or yourself) can get an idea about how the final image will look. Especially when shooting in BW this can be an awesome tool that really makes the difference. But also think about overlays where you are able to shoot the images straight into the publication with all the headlines, text, etc. already laid out so you can get perfect results.

What you might not know is that most modern cameras support shooting tethered. In most cases, software like Lightroom or Capture One supports your camera. But there are also alternatives, most cameras even have their own software which can or cannot be incorporated with Lightroom. Tethering is a serious workflow enhancement, and might I say probably one of the most important ones.

But time moves on and demands also grow

A camera that was cutting edge a few years ago is already surpassed by many generations that followed. This also means that the files are getting larger, but most of all the buffers of the cameras are getting larger, cards are getting faster and we are also able to charge our cameras via USBC. This means that the demands we have for our tethering cables are getting higher and higher.

Today it’s exactly a year ago I made a post on the internet that we would be releasing a new brand for Europe that would be able to solve most if not all problems that people experience when shooting tethered, and after a year let’s look back and continue reading about 1-year problem-free tethering with IQwire

the IQwire logo with slogan

Experience is key

I’ve been shooting tethered for as long as I can remember. It started with the famous yellow composite cable to a CRT monitor. A simple connection from the video out of my camera to the TV. Nothing fancy but it worked like a charm. Later of course I switched to wireless tethering with a special battery grip which in all honesty worked ok for JPGs but was way too slow for RAW files (nothing changed here). I believe that when I switched to Medium Format it was the first time I really was able to shoot tethered the right way via Leaf Capture. At that moment I was running Windows and there actually was no Windows version of Leaf Capture. But thanks to the awesome team at Leaf I was able to run an alpha/beta version of the software. Later I switched to Mac also due to the fact my Windows laptop was way too unstable in heat or wet environments.

Sony A99 could not tether

Fast forward a lot of years and I was asked to do the introduction of the Sony A99. At that moment a groundbreaking camera with an EVF and …. well…. no tethering. Seeing I was asked to do the official introduction in Dubai for an audience this was really a big issue. So I started working together with a small company that actually managed to get me a “working” version of their tethering plugin for Sony cameras, with the STRONG message, please don’t shoot more than 25 images, and please not too fast. To make a long story short it was a demo with not that many shots but I was probably the first one in the world that actually shot tethered with the A99.

Tethering can be complicated

We never stopped looking for better tethering solutions and for many years Annewiek and I worked effortlessly to make tethering problem-free for every photographer. You have to realize that just adding a cable to your camera doesn’t warrant that tethering works. It’s actually in some cases a very complicated process where drivers can block the tethering or power saving can cause lost connections. Dropbox can even totally shut off tethering, hardware drivers aren’t updated or not correctly, etc. I could write a small book about all the problems we experienced over this period.

But as mentioned times changed and we found that more and more photographers (including myself) demanded more from our cables and solutions. For me, it was important to be able to use 10 meters (33 ft) cables without any hassle of adding two different cables together. I want to tethering to work problem-free. Extending cables in reality just doesn’t work reliably. Even when using locks after a few months I started getting lost connections and we had to tape the whole system together. And let’s be honest if you walk on a stage you don’t want to worry about losing connection, you just want to shoot and trust your gear.

And we found a brand that does exactly what the modern photographer wants.


And the IQ is not there for fun or advertising. We deliver the IQwire cables in 5 and 10 meters lengths. So one problem for me was solved (length). However, when using 10 meters you are going beyond the limits of USBC (4.7 meters) so how do we make it work you might ask?

Well in the 10 meters version, you will find 2 boosters, and by using 2 boosters we have some advantages that no other brand has.

First of all of course the length, finally 10 meters without any extra connections.
But by using two inline boosters we are also able to solve another huge problem. The fact that most professional photographers use several cameras. With the IQwire, we are also selling several pigtails and even a USB-A converter. This makes the IQwire literally one cable to rule them all. When you shoot USBC you just use the cable as it is. But if you need USB mini/B/micro or any other connection you are able to connect a so-called pigtail cable where you go from USBcC female to the connector you need. Our pigtails are app 15 cm in length but I did some tests with adding a convertor PLUS a 4.7 meter cable and to my surprise my Medium Format camera didn’t just shoot without any dropouts but even was able to charge on the lowest setting which proves how stable and well build the IQ-Wire system is. So that is what we call problem-free tethering!

And although you don’t really need a booster on 5 mtrs also our 5 mtrs cables have one booster.

But there is more

As soon as you connect your camera for the first time you will notice that the connection is blazingly fast. The camera is recognized almost immediately and there are no more pauses or hiccups during the session, all images come in at the same time and speed.

We did several tests ourselves and clocked a difference of up to 20% compared to the best other cables. According to a recent review, the reviewer actually claimed even faster speeds compared to an off-brand cable. The impressive fact from that review was he compared a standard 1-meter cable with our 10-meter cable.

Part of this is of course due to the boosters. But also due to a small piece of hardware called IQ-connect. With IQ-connect you are always sure your camera and computer/tablet have the fastest connection and don’t disconnect the camera during the shoot.

With modern cameras, you can still shoot with standard cables of course, but if you want a reliable professional solution that can take a beating IQwire is the best choice in our personal opinion.

Read this update about 1-year problem-free tethering with IQwire.

Cascable logo, tethering software for the iPad

And more

When we look at the demands from photographers besides length we also hear being used iPad more and more. And let’s be honest, being able to shoot to a laptop is great, but you always have to carry an expensive piece of gear into environments that are far from friendly for anything that has air vents. Take your laptop to a beach with a little bit of wind and you know what I mean.

The iPad is the perfect solution for shooting tethered. I shoot with the iPad almost exclusively now and would literally never go back to the laptop. More battery life, much more light output, and much much easier to mount on a stand without the risk of falling over.

But you need software for this of course. And as mentioned before we always look for great solutions and found this in an app called Cascable on iOS. Do make sure you check if your camera is supported for wired tethering (they support a lot of cameras and even more wireless so make sure you check for wired too).

You guessed it… there is more

Now that we have the perfect cable in the perfect length, and a good tethering solution there is one thing missing.
When we connect something to our camera there is always a risk of damaging the port. This is one of the reasons I never advise people to empty their cards via the cameras, so how do we solve this with tethering?

First of all, IQwire uses angled connectors which already bring the risk down when a camera tips over when on the floor. (Never ever place your camera when connected on a stool or table, if someone hits your cable the camera will fall and probably not survive, so always place a connected camera on the floor). Due to the angled design of the IQwire the camera will literally turn over the cable protecting the port. But that doesn’t help when someone stands on your cable (of course you never do that yourself :D).

This is the first reason everyone should consider a 10-meter cable

When you use a 5-meter cable you have to take into account your own length (in my case 1.97) and the height of the laptop or tablet (mostly 1.50 meters). This means that if you don’t want your cable to “float” you already lose roughly 3.50 mtrs which means you can move around 1 to 2 meters around your laptop/tablet before the cable becomes a danger to trip over. With a 10-meter cable, this is much more than double. Now you can move roughly 6.50 mtrs around your laptop/tablet. This makes it not only safer to shoot but also hugely benefits the way you can use your set creatively. Being limited by length is incredibly frustrating.

But even when you use a 10-meter cable the port is still very fragile.
So you need something to connect the cable securely to the camera. Anything that moves around is not safe enough and just a small protection, as long as the cable moves there is a constant movement to the port which will eventually weaken the port and this will lead to lost connections.

For years I’ve used a solution that was expensive, very troublesome to take off and put on and was often cut into my hand. So we decided to create something that would work much better and would be a LOT cheaper.

our CableBlock is red,small and also arca compatible for problem-free tethering

Enter the CableBlock

Our StudioFD “We Know Tether” CableBlock solves many problems you can find in competing products.
First of all, we opted for a smaller form factor. This means that on most cameras you can still access the battery compartment and the CableBlock doesn’t cut into your hand when using smaller cameras. But most of all we wanted an easy way to take the CableBlock off the camera, so we added a clip which you can quickly take the CableBlock off your camera or put it on of course. You can still use a coin or screwdriver but you don’t need to anymore.

And of course, the CableBlock is fire red which makes it stands out. It’s fully Arca compatible and the best thing …. we are able to sell it for 35,00 euros retail. And for the time being it’s actually delivered for free with the 10- meter IQ-wire when bought from our dealers.

Looking back

Introducing a new brand on the market is always a problem. But realizing it’s just one year ago we did the introduction it’s stunning to see we are now being sold in most camera stores in the Benelux. And getting orders from other countries far out of our sales region is nothing less than awesome.

We are very pleased with all the positive reviews we get from magazines, websites, and most of all our users. Everybody seems to love IQwire, and reading that people can shoot without any problems or hiccups is the icing on the cake of course, and the reason we always find the brands that deliver.

For myself
1 year using a 10-meter IQwire meant
ZERO lost connections
Still using the same cable
No visible degrading on the connectors and housing and even the cable itself still looks brand new although there were quite some instances where people and dog stood on the cable and I even (by accident) rolled my chair over the cable during a shoot a few times.

So do you also want to shoot tethered problem-free?

Like with most products there are brands that innovate and brands that keep everything the same. With IQwire we are ready for the future, are you already an IQwire shooter?

For more info see www.iqwire.nl
Buy the cable block here from us
Buy IQwire directly from us

You can buy IQwire and CableBlock in your favorite camera store

Why StudioFD?

Of course, you might wonder “Why should I choose to work with StudioFD?”
First of all, we have an unsurpassed experience with tethering. Without going into details (don’t want to hurt other brands), we’ve been working in the business of tethering for over 15 years building brands from the ground up with almost 24/7 365 support.

As a dealer, you don’t have to think about solving problems for your customer which costs time and often will not solve the problem. Instead, we take over the complete after-sales and will support your customer with all the questions they have and if something doesn’t work… Well, we will make it work (unless a camera doesn’t support tethering of course). Besides an extensive experience with tethering, we also ran a PC/Mac shop for over 20 years so we have a proper knowledge of the software and hardware needed to create a flawless workflow.

Dealers are welcome.

Combining/mixing light sources

One of the questions I hear a lot during workshops is the problem of combining/mixing light sources
Now let’s first do the easy stuff.

Combining/mixing light sources: strobes and speedlights

This is one of the things that happens quite often, and in all honesty, it’s a bit of figuring out stuff but when you get it, it’s pretty easy.
There are some different solutions, so let’s quickly go through them.

  1. the first one is the easiest
    Use a system that uses the same trigger for their speedlights and strobes. And nowadays with brands like Geekoto and Godox the line between studio use and portable is getting smaller by the minute.
  2. Use a cable trigger
    Very old-fashioned but it still works, get a cold shoe with a cable connector and use the trigger for your studio strobes and the cable for the speedlights, or the other way around.
  3. Use a system that can learn the pre-flash
    Most speedlights have a small flash before the main flash and sometimes you can disable this, but often it’s not possible some strobes, like the Elinchrom system, have the option to learn the pre-flash, and now you can use your speedlights to trigger the studio strobes via the optical slave.

Of course, there are more solutions, like optical slaves, IR, etc. but today I want to talk about something that is a bit more tricky.

Combining/mixing light sources: continuous lighting with strobes

To get a proper understanding of what’s going on I always joke that this is as close to HDR (not Highly Destructive Retouching) as you can get with one exposure. So what’s going on.

When we look at the way continuous lighting is captured it’s a matter of the longer you keep the shutter open, the more light enters. But when we do the same thing for flash/strobes it doesn’t really matter how fast the shutter speed is, as long as it’s within the so-called X-sync (often 1/125) it will render properly.

So when we want to mix strobes with continuous lighting we actually already know what to do, but it’s still important to talk about some issues that can/will go wrong 🙂

another example of combining/mixing light sources. Christmas lights, lights in the branches and flash on the model


The first thing is of course output.
Our Hensel studio strobes are much more powerful than a lightbulb.
So we have to make sure that we keep the output of our strobes as low as possible when we want to mix them with for example Christmas lights. But how do we do that ?

  1. Buy the right strobes
    When buying strobes it doesn’t make sense to get 1000W strobes with 3 stops of range. You will get a lot of light but 1000W is really a lot and 3 stops range is not that much. A much wiser investment is anything between 100 and 400W for studio use with loads of stops, for example a 400W strobe with 6 stops of adjustments will give you more than enough output but it also makes the lowest setting ideal for mixing it with continuous lighting.
  2. Use the right light shaper
    When you use a Hensel 14″ reflector you already know you can never mix this with continuous lighting (as is) simply put, because the 14″ reflector gives you so much light output it’s hardly usable in the studio (perfect for outside to kill the sun).
    But for example, a striplight with a middle diffuser and grid literally eats light so this is perfect for lowering your strobe.
  3. Be smart
    if you don’t have the options I just mentioned always remember that a white T-shirt also does wonders to tame your light output, do make sure you don’t create a fire hazard 😀

Now that we understand that we have to lower the strobe output the rest is easy.
What I always do…

I choose the lens with the fastest aperture and the DOF I like (in most cases just f2.8)
Now with the new EVF cameras, there is an awesome way to set up your lights.
In the past I would use the light meter and try to meter the output of the Christmas lights, which sounds easier than it actually is, because you don’t want the lights to blow out (not seeing the colours) but you also want a modest output, it’s a fine balance.

With the EVF you just choose the option WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) and dial in the way you like the continuous lighting. I always keep my camera on Manual mode for this (using strobes) and set the aperture on a setting I like (often f2.8 or faster), lock the shutter speed to something I know I can keep steady (often 1/30) and now I use the ISO to dial in the effect I like. And because of the EVF you literally see the end result getting closer in front of your eyes in real-time. I can’t stress how much this setting on EVFs has changed how you can accurately set up complex lighting situations.

Now that we know for example that we need ISO400 f2.8 1/30 of a second to get the result I like, it’s a simple matter of grabbing the light meter and adjusting the strobe until it hits f2.8 at ISO400… and …. well that’s all folks 😀

Let’s take a look at some samples I shot during workshops.
But don’t stop reading, there is a whole part under the images.

see the YouTube short about this workshop

I do have to add one more thing about combining/mixing light sources.

If you want to wow your customer or have more options yourself and you don’t want to change anything in aperture or strobe output I always advise setting the shutter speed as fast as possible and the result to the darkest you like. So let’s say f2.8 ISO1600 1/125. The added benefit of this method is that if during the shoot you realize you want the lights to be brighter you don’t have to panic or change something. You simply grab the shutter speed dial and lower the shutter speed. The model will still be correctly lit (the flash is just a pulse) but the continuous lighting will become brighter.

Combining/mixing light sources: Day-to-night

This is also super handy when working outside with the day-to-night technique.
No more need to use spot metering outside.
Just take the EVF and dial in the look you like (as long as the shutter stays at your X-sync) and after that use the light meter to get the strobes to the settings for aperture and ISO you just saw in your EVF. If you keep it as dark as possible you can literally light the background by just changing the shutter speed. Customers really think you’re a magician 😀

Day to night. Combining/mixing light sources. The sun in the back and flash from the left

check out this video of a workshop outside

Some final thoughts

You hear me talking about the X-sync a lot during workshops, live streams, and in articles. Let me explain a bit why.
When we think about DSLR cameras when we take a photo the mirror flips up and the first shutter curtain opens followed by the second one, the faster the shutter speed, the faster these two follow each other. As you can imagine when you use strobes there is a pulse of light that is very fast (often 1/2000 and up) so when you want your image to be correctly lit you need to make sure BOTH shutter curtains are not covering the sensor, and in most cameras that are every shutter speed below 1/200 for their own speedlights and 1/125 for most strobe systems. If you shoot faster there is often a distinct black bar covering your image, that’s your second shutter curtain.

When we take into account the 1/125 rule all strobes can work in normal operation mode (later more) and you can use a normal flash meter to meter the light.

This is of course a limitation that has haunted us photographers for decades and there are solutions.


One of the most known solutions is HSS (High-Speed Sync) this makes it possible to shoot at shutter speeds up to 1/8000 without the horrible black bars. In simple words, the strobe fires several times a second covering the whole censor in different periods of time. It’s an amazing system with many drawbacks, but it does have more positives than negatives. One of the negatives is without a doubt you need a special flash meter that can meter HSS, for example, the Sekonic 858. If you use a system like this you still do the same thing as mentioned in the article but you can also make the scene darker very easily by raising the shutter speed.

BUT…. do beware that when you enter the realm of HSS the output of the strobe falls dramatically so personally I would be a bit careful with planning a shoot whether you are on the edge of HSS or not.

Other solutions to break the X-sync are :

Leaf shutter lenses
These lenses are pretty heavy in weight and price but they are awesome.
Most of all the quality is often perfect, but due to the design, you can often shoot at shutter speeds of 1/750-1500 and sometimes even higher.

Specific digital cameras
And not even the most expensive ones, my Point and Shoot Fuji camera from years ago was actually able to shoot with strobes on 1/2000 which at moment stunned me because I didn’t know this, imagine my surprise when I saw a cheap camera doing the same and even faster than my 20K+ medium format setup with leaf shutter lenses. (Don’t tell Annewiek).

Combining/Mixing light sources: in this case flash and the sun


Working with different light sources in one shot is great to really set a mood, or sometimes you just have to because it’s part of the area you are shooting in. So don’t panic and just remember that X-sync rule and that the strobe is always a pulse and the continuous lighting just builds up over time.

Next time we talk about light metering on location to fight the sun and how to combine/mixing light sources


Being creative with led tubes

It’s no secret I absolutely love to find creative ways to use my lighting.
One of the things I love to add in a scene is color, but also continuous lighting.

So when Nanlite asked me to take a look at their new Pavo Tube I knew I wanted to combine it with some Christmas lighting we bought recently for the studio (we always look for cool lighting solutions, it’s always fun to use them and it triggers your creativity).

Here are some of the results from the session we did with Nadine.
Using the TT artisan lens on my Sony A7RIV with the FotoDiox adaptor to use the lens as an auto focus lens, love those convertors, it really makes it so much fun using vintage lenses.

In the video I also explain the setups.