Archive for April, 2012

Extreme Sport Photography with Matt Thomas

When I Google “Qflash” I am not surprised to see pages of product photos, followed by gorgeous wedding images and stunning location portraits. It was the fantastic shots of skateboarders flying through urban landscapes that I always wondered about. Today Matt Thomas of in Gloucester, Gloucestershire joins us to explain the Qflash / extreme action sport photography connection.

I was introduced to the Quantum line of flashes about 3 years ago by a friend who was using the Quantum QFlash model T2. He kept going on about the quality of light, and how good the spread of light was compared to every other flash he owned.  I did a bit of research into the Qflash system, to see how it would benefit me, and I liked what I saw. It was time to try and get one, but I didn’t need any of the fancy features the newer QFlashes offered. So the hunt for an older model began. Luckily, I was able to pick up a second hand QFlash T2 from another skateboard photographer.

The main thing extreme action sport photographers look for in lighting is the flashes ability to freeze action, therefore the shorter the flash duration the better. Often I am trying to overpower the ambient light enough to get a crisp shot of the movement taking place.  To do this you need to a very quick burst of light, enough to stop that motion in place for a split second. The QFlash at around 1/4 power is just the right duration to kick out a fast, powerful burst and freeze the action.

In bare bulb the Qflash puts out a wide spread of light. This allows me to bring the flash in quite close, drop the power down, and get that short flash duration I need. Some of my fisheye shots were done with the Qflash only a couple of feet away from the subject, giving me enough power to use apertures of f/8 or f/11, up to two stops more than the natural available light.

All of the Quantum Qflashes are powered by a separate Turbo Battery. Having Quantum Turbo packs in my bag always comes in handy, especially when shooting sequences in poorly lit environments. When I partner a Turbo pack with my Nikon SB-800 I get quick enough recycle time to keep up with the 8fps of my Nikon D700. When firing an action sequence using a Quantum Turbo and High Voltage cable the skater is always lit up and the flash never misses a beat, extremely useful when a lot of the sequence shots seem to happen during dusk or inside skate parks.

Overall I’ve been super happy with using a Quantum QFlash in all of my action photography, not only for its great way the flash can stop action but also for the light spread that fills a location with high quality light. None of which I could get with other flashes I’ve shot with.

Matt Thomas

Okay, I admit I am a flasher!!! with Luke Pickerill

Louise & Andrew 1

Camera Settings: 1/250 - f/3.5 - ISO320Main Light Quantum T5d-RShoot Through UmbrellaBack Light: SB-800

Today we are joined by “Q”flasher, and professional photographer Luke Pickerill of Luke is both a Photographer and Videographer, and he has been wowing us with his fusion videos!

Okay,  I admit I am a flasher!!!
I love to flash and use it almost to a fault.

Sometimes, I reach for my flashes, get them all set up and once I am ready to start popping I look at the scene, realize I have incredible available light and quite literally drop the flashes where I stand.

Louise & Andrew 5

Camera Settings: 1/250 - f/2.0- ISO100 Main Light Quantum T5dr - shoot through Umbrella Back Light: SB-800

Ok, that was a little but of an exaggeration, but flashing is actually a decision I made long before showing up to a job.

    “Using flash is one of the ways
I set my self apart from my competition.”

I coach a lot of other young photogs and professionals and I am finding that a large majority of them have no idea how to flash.  They rely entirely on available light.  Now don’t get me wrong available light is awesome, and I use it to, but I can also flash!  I am not limited to only that light that happens to exist in a scene.

I have been hearing words like vintage and grungy for quite a while now and that seems to be the current trend.  While I utilize those looks as well, they also take more time in post processing, which for a wedding studio can eat into the bottom line and reduce your profits.  Plus, I like to shoot, not post process, so flashing allows me to get the look I want, in camera without extensive post processing.

Louise & Andrew 7

Camera Settings: 1/100 - f/2.8- ISO1000Main Lights: 2 Video LightsFill Light: Quantum Bounced Off The Wall to the right

I like to use a Quantum T5dr and a Turbo 3 as a main light mostly shot through a 40” shoot through umbrella.  I use a bunch of different modifiers but what I like about the T5dr is that it has enough power to get over the ambient in most situations.  I also used an SB-800 with a 1/4 CTO as a back light in most of these shots.

Luke Pickerill
Pickerill Creative
(818) 391-9541


Louise & Andrew 3 Louise & Andrew 4 Louise & Andrew 6: Camera Settings: 1/160 - f/4.0- ISO100 Main Light Quantum T5dr - shoot through Umbrells Back Light: SB-800 - on the ground behind the couple. Louise & Andrew 8: Camera Settings: 1/40 - f/2.8- ISO800 Back Light:  Quantum

High School Senior Session with Jim Cowsert

Freelance photographer Jim Cowsert of Grapevine Photo returns to the Flashline this week. Jim specializes in corporate photography, family portraits, sports photography, and senior photos. Jim recently took his Qflash T5d-R, Trio and Pilot on a senior portrait session.

McKalee Rouse is a high school senior who is also a great softball player. She will be going to a D-1 college next year on a full ride softball scholarship! I knew MaKalee’s session would need to include a trip to the softball diamond, but first I wanted to get some casual shots around town.

My favorite time to shoot is from just before sunset right on into the late evening. This is really where I believe my Quantum lights shine. The High Speed Sync on the Trio allows me to pull in the beautiful colors in the sky and still put that perfect light on my subject.

After the sun went down I used my Qflash T5d-R as the main light and set the Trio camera right and slightly behind McKalee  for accent.  I wanted to control the spread of the light on the stone wall and park bench shots, so I placed a 20° grid on the T5d-R. Both flashes were in manual mode and controlled by a Pilot on my Canon 1dMk4. No processing was done to the final images except for cropping and sizing for the web.

A funny thing happened when we finally made it to the softball field… after setting up my lights, positioning the props, and posing McKalee… Just as I was about to shoot,  the fields lights were turned off for the night. I had to shoot in total darkness. This actually turned out great since the Qflash’s really made for some good light.

Jim Cowsert

In The Heartland with Kevin Manning

Corn FieldI contracted with a publishing and design house to do a location shoot on the farm for Thrive, the corporate magazine of Syngenta.  They wanted a photographic essay with portraits of a farmer that used their products, along with his Syngenta retailer and representative.  The scheduling was done by the client and was supposed to show a Spring time meeting between the farmer and his bio-tech supports.  This was in January.  The client wanted strong skies with clouds and color and hoped for a moody sundown type look.  There was to be a vertical cover and a horizontal inside opener.

CharlieOn the appointed day the weather was perfect, until I got halfway to the location near Montgomery City, Mo.  Then a solid cloud carpet with the occasional sprinkle rolled in.  I made a series of photos with farmer Charlie Cobb, and Harold and Randy from Syngenta and got most of the shot list out of the way, but still no cover.  Hoping that the weather would improve backfired and it just got worse.  The clouds actually looked like they were trying to rotate.  I suddenly realized this was the background I needed for my cover.  It had plenty of dead space at the top and bottom for their cover template, which had type in both areas. If used high speed sync I could shutter that sky into submission. It would also make use of the textures within the clouds and save me hours of masking in a new sky with Photoshop.



Children of the CornFor lighting I used a trio of Trios.  Two were banked to the left at a 45 degree angle with a 26″ Quantum octobox as a modifier on one and a Quantum 12″ striplight softbox on the other.  The stands were sandbagged but the soil was very dry and fluffy and I had to have Harold from Syngenta hold the stands as the winds were gusting to 30mph.  To the right I used the other Trio with a 14″ Lumodi beauty dish as the light modifier, which was also sandbagged and held by Randy, the Syngenta retailer.  They were great sports and so very helpful although Harold told me he could “light this photo op with matches and shoot it on my cellphone.”

I used a Canon 5D MkII at 400ISO and at a 1250th of a second at f2.8.  I had the camera set in shutter priority automatic and the Pilot had the trio of Trios each listed in its own Radio Group with HSS activated.  They were set to QTTL with the Lumodi to the right being set at -1/2 stop and the banked lights to the left set at -1.

The client loved the result.

Kevin Manning

Like Having the Sun in Your Back Pocket

Lenwood YoungLenwood W. Young of Xpress Yourself Portraits in San Bernardino California specializes in Weddings, Corporate, and Senior portraits. He recently added Qflash to his equipment bag, liked the results, and joins us today to share his story…

I took this shot at an abandon train station in Redlands, California, right around sunset. This was my first time using my Qflash T5dR on a shoot. Before I had been using speed lights or studio lights with extension cords on location.

The main light is my Qflash T5dR in a 12×12 soft box positioned  at a 45 degree angle to the models face, camera right, about 8ft from her. The hair light is a Canon 580EXII positioned about 10 feet behind the model with the head of the flash pointed at her back. The lights were triggered with radio poppers.

I turned everything on, just to get a feel for the setup. I did a couple of test shots to dial in my settings. The Qflash was set to 1/4 power, and hair light to 1/2 power.

If you ask me about the Qflash T5dr I would say you can’t go wrong with this product, you don’t have to worry about finding a wall plug because of the portable battery pack. It’s like having the sun in your back pocket. Go with the T5dR anytime you need to light up the night or compete with bright sunlight.

As long as you have the best equipment you to can make very beautiful shots like this yourself. With Quantum the sky’s the limit, the only thing stopping you from doing something like this is your imagination!

Camera info: Canon 85mm 1.2 Lens, Canon 5DMKII @ F4.5 ISO 100 Shutter Speed 1/160

Lenwood W. Young

Lenwood Young Lenwood Young Lenwood Young Lenwood Young