Archive for March, 2012

Clay Blackmore – “How To Photograph Everyone”

Quantum is proud to be a sponsor of Clay Blackmore’s 30-city 2012 “How To Photograph Everyone” Tour. The tour kicked off Monday evening, March, 26 in San Diego and runs through June 11, visiting cities throughout the US.

Don’t settle for snapshots and flash-on-camera images – you need to know the techniques to set yourself apart from the crowd. HTPE brings portrait photography back to where it started, with all the tools you need to make timeless photographs that sell.

Clay will teach the following principles during the seminar:

Posing, Lighting, Lifting, and Refining – A live demonstration will take place with all participants looking through Clay’s lens as he creates elegant portraits on the stage.

Clay’s Flow Posing – Clay will demonstrate live how to create 10 portraits of a couple in five minutes.

“How to Photograph Everyone” - A descriptive analysis of how to make portraits of children, mother and child, maternity, men, women, high school seniors, business portraits, and small-to-medium groups.

The Perfect Portfolio – How to create an awe-inspiring portfolio that is sure to entice potential customers.

Weddings: Catering to the Modern Bride – Learn how to take photos that sell, and get your client to fall in love with the pictures before they even leave the wedding.

Big Portraits with Small Lights – Take cover! We’ll focus on working with scrims, reflectors, and window light to produce photographs that rival studio portraiture.

Post Production – Clay will show you several of his secret weapons for portrait retouching and enhancement.

DSLR Filmmaking Opportunities - Learn how Clay is bundling his photography with this new technology to increase his bottom line.

Don’t Just Survive—Learn to Thrive – Learn how to control the sale and increase profits.

Register using Quantum’s Discount and Save!
Registration is $69, but you can save $10 and pre-register for only $59 with promo code QNTMClick here to register for a program near you!.


Clay Blackmore, one of the most passionate professional photographers working today, is a true innovator in the world of portraiture and wedding photography.  One of only a few Canon Explorers of Light, Blackmore’s style blends the beauty and timelessness of classical portraiture with the spontaneity and appeal of photojournalism. His credentials were developed during his 25-year association with the legendary Monte Zucker as assistant, business partner, and co-educator. A celebrity and society favorite, Clay’s clients have included such luminaries as Larry King, Forrest Whitaker, Jenna Elfman, and Maria Sharapova. Renowned for his ability to photograph groups and cover events, Clay is consistently hired by corporate entities as diverse as the PGA and USGA and is a popular request for political inaugural balls.  In Clay’s groundbreaking work on Extraordinary Women:  Fantasies Revealed Clay photographically chronicles the dreams of 58 elite women, capturing intimate and energetic portraits of Madeline Albright, Dena Merrill, Joan Rivers, Cokie Roberts, and Dominique Dawes among others.  Blackmore is an active and contributing member of the elite Cameracraftsmen of America.

For more details about the upcoming How to Photograph Everyone Tour, visit:

On The Beach with Gary Phillips

Gary PhillipsIn Hawaii, we are blessed to be able to shoot all year.  At Phillips Photography, beach portraits are by far the most popular type of portraiture that we do. Whether it’s engagement sessions, high school senior portraits or wedding formals, everyone wants to be on the beach (and who can blame them).

However, for a photographer, the beach presents some pretty significant challenges. The environment itself is pretty harsh. Sand gets into everything, as does the splash and spray from the salt water.  Those wonderful tradewinds often blow stands over, sandbags or not. Then there are the lighting conditions.  Most beaches are wide open with very little open shade (I love to place my subject in open shade & add some reflected sunlight from a very large reflector). The sun is very bright and the shadows are harsh and contrasty.

set-upWith that scene set… enter Quantum Instruments and the very reasons why I choose them.  First, they are very tough and stand up extremely well to the harsh conditions of the beach.  I’ve had my Qflashes take a dive into the sand several times and never skip a beat (I don’t recommend this type of abuse, but it happens).   The power that I get from the Qflash easily fills the shadows created by the harsh sun, even after diffusion.  My most common setup (seen below) is a Qflash T5d-R with a FreeXWire FW7Q attached and powered by a Turbo SC on a stand.  I control the Qflash wirelessly with the Quantum Pilot so that I don’t have to keep going back to the stand for adjustments (Pocket Wizards work very well in this situation also). I also have an X5d-R when I need some extra power.

Finished PortraitI’m a big fan of large light sources, so I put a warming gel (to match the warm color of the sun) into the Quantum Wide Angle Diffuser on the Qflash (to better fill the entire 45″ Westscott) and then put that inside of a Westscott 45″ Halo-Mono.  This creates a very powerful, yet soft light that is capable of competing with the sun.  Sunset portraits are one of our specialties and very frequently requested.  Quantum lets me put the sun at my subjects’ back and shoot directly into it, balancing it perfectly to achieve a very natural, pleasing light.  I prefer to shoot all manual with my T5d-R, but I have to admit that I’m intrigued by the HSS that pilot offers in conjunction with the Trio.

Large GroupAnother great thing about the Qflash system is that 1 light can be modified in a variety of different ways depending on the subject.  The same set up easily illuminates a family of 10.






Finished PortraitWe often photograph high school seniors who are vacationing in the Islands. They’re seeking a unique portrait unlike others in their class in “Iowa” (or wherever they may be from).  A Phillips Photography beach portrait session powered by Qflash fits the bill perfectly!

Power, quality (both in product construction and light output), and reliability are the main reason why I choose Quantum.  Sure, it’s a bit more of an initial investment, but when it just has to work and has to work well, then the investment more than pays for itself.


Actually, I’ve Always Wanted to Direct

We have been producing our own series of “product support” videos. We noticed many basic questions coming up repeatedly on our customer support page at and thought that some short online videos would help answer them.

OmicronA couple of months ago our in-house creative talents set about the task.  We have a lot great equipment around the shop, including tripods, light stands, monitors, video capable DSLR cameras, and of course our own Omicron LED Ring Light.

With all the equipment ready to go the next step was to decide on a topic and script it. We turned to our Technical Support Specialists to find out specifically what people are asking. As it turns out Customer Support hears everything from “What’s In The Box” to “How Do I Set It Up for Remote”Omicron

Being novice film makers we started with a simple, “What’s I n The Box” for our Trio flash, followed by a couple of short “Trio Menu” walk through videos and finally the remote Trio set-up.

As our video collection grows we will be organizing them into albums designed to support particular products. The Trio album is complete now… unless someone decides to make a sequel.

Visit our Vimeo page to see our latest videos.

Omicron In The News…

PPMAG.comThe March 2012 issue of Professional Photographer includes a nice review of the Omicron Ring Light by TJ McDowell of Larissa Photography. PPA members can view the { Digital Edition } online.

TJ and his wife Larissa used the Omicron with a Trio & Turbo 3 battery on their half-day fashion shoot. There were three models in the studio with TJ & Larissa who captured both still and video images during the session. “To switch from flash to video mode is as easy as pushing the video button on the Trio… and then you can adjust the intensity knob on the Omicron.”

Larissa Photography  Visit the Larissa Photography site to see a fusion video of the Omicron in action. Looks like fun.



The Best Safari Flash

If you visit national parks such as the Kruger Park, Kgalagadi and Etosha you will have great opportunities to photograph at night but then you’ll want to have a flash that is powerful enough to reach your subject thereby making it the best safari flash.

Most waterholes are about 50 meters from the chalets, tents and cabins so an average flash tends to be adequate. Camps such as Urikaruus and Gharagab in the Kgalagadi and Okaukuejo and Halali in Etosha fit this bill.

Being Nikon shooters we found our old SB-800 and new SB-900 flashes were great when combined with a Better Beamer. The flash could reach up to about 80 meters with good results.

Camps such as Kieliekrankie and Kalahari Tented Camp in the Kgalagadi and Dolomite Camp in Etosha proved to be challenges as the waterholes are 120, 200 and 300 meters away from the chalets!

As a result we would get most frustrated at these camps as we could not use our flash for nocturnal photography.

Nikon announced a new SB-910 flash so we checked out the specs but we were not impressed. The SB-900 had heating issues so the new flash now had a thermal slow-down instead of a thermal shut-down, a few controls have been ‘improved’ and that’s about it.

This is not a new flash but a tweak of the SB-900 – surely Nikon should have just done a firmware update or alternatively called it the SB-900S? The flash distance is exactly the same as the old flash.

Hence we decided to do some research and emailed Metz in Germany, Quantum Instruments in the USA and we phoned our local camera store to see what else was available.

Quantum Instruments were the first to respond, actually I should reword that – they were the only people to respond! We are still waiting for a reply from Metz and from one of the camera dealers in Johannesburg who promised to phone me back but I received no call. They both lost out on a nice order.

Gerald Kraus, the Technical Support Specialist at Quantum in the USA sent us a list of items (flash plus accessories) we would need in order to achieve our goals with estimated flash distances for certain ISO and f-stops.

• QFX5d-R X5d-R Qflash

• QF63b Telephoto reflector

• D22w-R Digital TTL adapter (goes between hotshoe and the flash)

• PX Qpaq-X Command Module

• PXC Qpaq-X 200ws add on module

• PB1 Qpaq-X High Performance Battery

• PR1E Qpaq-X European (230v) charger

It looked good so I placed my order with one of Quantum’s distributors, Flaghead Photographic Ltd in the UK. I dealt with Hardy Haase and his service was five-star.

I had placed my order with Hardy but he wanted to make sure that the equipment I was buying would actually produce the desired results so he took some photos at distances of 250 to 300 meters and emailed me so we could both feel confident that the Quantum flash would produce the desired results at these long distances.

This type of service is unheard of nowadays! Once a company has your money they don’t seem to care about the value you will be getting from their product, unlike Quantum and Flaghead who care about their clients.

Anyway, the gear arrived in time for our Kgalagadi trip and the Quantum flash performed very well!

Here you can see the flash reaching the waterhole at Kalahari Tented Camp, 200 meters away…











And the resulting photograph is bright…

I was using ISO 3200 at f8, which means there is still a lot of ‘juice’ left for longer distances as we can still increase our ISO to 12800 on the D3S and reduce the f-stop to f4 on the 600mm f4 lens. We will be trying these greater distances over December when we are in the Kruger Park.

Here is a photograph of a cheetah taken at Kieliekrankie wilderness camp…

The waterhole is 120 meters away so, again, no chance of the Nikon SB-900 reaching the cheetah but for the Quantum, no problem!

At the end of the day, if you want to photograph at night from camps such as Halali or Urikaruus or from safari vehicles on a night drive then a standard Nikon SB-900 or Canon 580EX speedlite plus Better Beamer to increase the reach will be the best safari flash for you. This includes fill-flash for daytime shooting.

But if you want to start bringing home memories from Kieliekrankie, Dolomite camp and most of the Kruger Camps, then you should look at the Quantum flashes. They are lighter than the Nikon and Canon speedlites but they do have a large, but not heavy, battery so they are best suited for shooting from bungalows or from the wall at camps like Okaukuejo.

The Quantum flash has a brighter and wider beam so I don’t need to use my Nikon SB-900s – why lug so many flashes around when one flash can be used for any night-time situation?

The Quantum X5d-R Qflash can be likened to the Ferrari of flashes – it can shoot portraits and other close-up shots but it can also provide extreme reach when needed making it our best safari flash by far!


Mario Fazekas

Mario is the co-author of The Photographer’s Guide to Etosha National Park eBook and you can see more of his images on his website or you can find him on Facebook.




Love That High-Speed Sync….

                                               …but how come it’s not working!!!?

High-speed SyncThe Quantum Trio, Trio Basic, and Pilot all work with High-speed Sync. This great feature allows you to capture the color in the sky by pushing the shutter speed beyond the normal limits of your DSLR camera.

To activate the high-speed sync on your Trio or Pilot press the option (OPT) soft key, use the +/- soft keys to move to the “select sync” menu, and used the arrow keys to select high-speed sync (HSS). Press the Mode/OK soft key and the Trio or Pilot is ready to go.

If you are shooting with a Canon camera you will now be able to set you shutter speed above the usual 1/250 limit.

NikonIf you are using a Nikon DSLR you will need to adjust a custom setting. There is a setting on Nikon camera bodies (D2X, D2H, S200, D300, D700 ,D300s, D3, D3x D3s, in the Custom Menu. It is e1.  This is factory defaulted to 1/250th of a second, which is the highest normal sync speed for flash. It needs to be set to 1/250 FP or 1/320 FP , which is the High Speed Sync mode. This will allow the camera to go above 1/250th of a second when there is a flash in the hot shoe of the camera. Once it is set, there is no need to turn off the FP High Sync Mode unless you do not want to use it.

The Nikon D90 has this Auto FP function as item e5 in its Custom Menu. Choices here are ON or OFF