Archive for May, 2012

Meter, Adjust the Light, Meter… BORING!

Luke Pickerill of and returns to the Flashline to share his thoughts on Studio vs. Location portrait shoots. I can’t believe any shoot Luke is on could be BORING!, but the guy sure does like to move around. Check out some of the location shoot videos on his blog and enter his Makeover Photoshoot Contest for a chance to see for yourself.

1/80sec - f/5.6 - 800 Lens: 70-200mm f/2.8I prefer to shoot my clients and their families in their homes rather that in the studio. First, studio shots are boring. Set up a background, set up some lights, meter. Adjust the light, meter. Adjust the light, meter… BORING!

Shooting in a clients home gives me more new things to work with and new problems to solve. I also find that younger children are more relaxed at their homes. It’s a familiar place and they feel comfortable. When the young kids come to a studio or on locations they can easily get distracted by all the newness and surroundings…

Whenever doing a shoot in someone’s home I always ask a lot of questions like:

• Are there windows in that room
• How big is the room
• How big are the windows
• Does the room get direct sunlight
• What color are the walls

1/125sec - f/2.25 - ISO1000 Lens: 70-200mm f/2.8Even when I am happy with all the answers and think there is going to be great available light I still bring my flashes and especially my Qflash because more often than not, my dreams of beautiful available light are dashed when I arrive and see what we’re actually working with. Maybe it’s the wrong part of the day for light hitting that room, or maybe the walls are green and giving the light a kind of vomitis color… The point is I always come prepared to create great light in case it doesn’t exist.

For all of these shots I used a Qflash through a shoot through umbrella and two Canon 580 exII’s. I love the Qflash as a main light in this kind of environment because I can run it at a very low power setting and get super fast recycle times. Fast recycle times are crucial if your shooting children.


1/100sec - f/2.8 - 800 Lens: 50mm f/1.4The 580’s are great because I can put them around the room on TV stands, mantles or whatever furniture is in the room and not have to bring additional light stands. I used the two 580’s as fill for the room. I shot them on opposite sides of the room shot up into the ceiling and got the room detail to a nice level.


1/100sec - f/3.2 - 800 Lens: 70-200mm f/2.8Then as I move around the room, I can really easily move the position of my Qflash main light. I triggered everything in Manual mode, using radio popper triggers.


1/100sec - f/2.8 - 800 Lens: 24mm f/1.4 1/100sec - f/2.8 - 800 Lens: 50mm f/1.4 1/80sec - f/3.2 - 800 Lens: 50mm f/1.4

1/100sec -f/3.2 - 800 Lens: 70-200mm f/2.8 1/100sec - f/2.8 - 800 Lens: 24mm f/1.4 1/100sec - f/3.2 - 800 Lens: 70-200mm f/2.8 1/100sec - f/3.2 - 800 Lens: 70-200mm f/2.8

1/100sec - f/2.8 - 800 Lens: 24mm f/1.4 1/125sec - f/2.25 - ISO800 Lens: 50mm f/1.4


Luke Pickerill

Change Your Flashtube… Every 900,000 Shots!

Albert T. Parker of ParkWest Photography in Chandler, Arizona and his wife Patricia do on location photography at ballroom dance competitions.

Traveling the country to cover both local & regional competitions, the Parkers need powerful, studio quality lights and they need them to be fast recycling and portable as well. Al started using Qflash & Turbo in 2004. He has assembled quite a collection of our equipment over the years.

The business has been growing by leaps and bounds. Patricia usually handles sales at their events, but on occasion she will jump in to capture some of the action. Al & Patricia shoot with high-end Canon DSLR’s and they use two remote Qflash QFT5dR’s controlled by on-camera Quantum Trios.

Al logged over a million and a half images on a single Canon body in less than 18 months! When he sent his high mileage 1Ds Mk IV in for “preventative maintenance” Canon was totally amazed at how many shots he got without service. Just to be on the safe side, AL decided to change the flashtubes on his Qflashes and Trios; since they each had around 900,000 shots!

Thank you for sharing this story Al, and thanks for relying on Qflash & Turbo.


Make Complicated Things Simple!

Today we are joined by International Fashion Photographer Robert Fairer, who recently took his new Quantum Omicron LED Ring Light on a tour of the world’s fashion capitols. Robert has been shooting backstage at the fashion shows of New York City, London, Milan, and Paris since 1996. Technology has evolved over the course of his career and since going digital Robert shoots around 50,000 images a month. Given the nature of his work, the chaotic surroundings backstage at a fashion show and rigors of traveling the globe Robert needs a flash with good quality light, TTL capability and the tough construction. Thank you for choosing Quantum Robert, and thank you for this glimpse backstage.

Over the years I have been contracted to various international magazines and since 2001 to Vogue USA.  My challenge has always been to make high quality, glossy images that can be run as center book fashion editorials.  This is made harder by the fact that I am not in charge of the cramped, unpredictable and fast-paced conditions that I face backstage where the main concern is to make the show run smoothly and often a photographer is viewed as an irritant and possibly a liability!

The last thing I want to be thinking about is my equipment – it just has to be compact and work properly while I concentrate on composing the image and looking for the next “moment” without being in the way.The Qflash T5d-R has been my workhorse . We use a 2 light set-up with a TTL front light and a manual edge / backlight which works brilliantly. The 2 light set-up creates drama in the usually bland, badly lit space backstage and makes the image look “expensive.”

I still like to look for new techniques to set us apart and give us an edge. I always felt that ring flash would be perfectly suited to my style of photography. Unfortunately the available TTL or automatic ring flashes were not very powerful and the larger, studio ring flash could not operate TTL which is crucial for me backstage.

When my assistant told me about the Quantum Omicron I thought he was teasing me. Quantum’s LED Ring Flash seemed perfect for my needs! I had been waiting 12 years for this!! I was struck by how lightweight and well constructed the unit was, however the supplied bracket just didn’t work for me at all. We were able to improvise by cannibalizing another bracket. We drilled a few new holes and ended up with a perfectly balanced compact solution.

The few test images I shot of my assistant proved that we didn’t need to read the instruction manual (destruction manual?) as it was just like my other Qflashes, so we headed out to our first show to road test the new toy.

First impressions: Incredibly comfortable to hold in the hand, well balanced, light and easy to maneuver through a crowd.  I was shocked by the recycling speed.  Perhaps I am doing something wrong with my regular Qflash, which shoots around a frame a second. The Omicron shoots around 3 fps, which is revolutionary for me.  There is a reassuring “correct exposure” confirmation beep and all the exposures are spot on.  Love the LED’s coming on to help with autofocus.

When we process out these first images the one thing I particularly like is that the feet and lower legs are being illuminated properly despite the black contract carpeting at the venue.  This has long been an issue with regular flash where the fall-off at the feet requires some extra computer work to balance the light when the floor is dark.  The quality of the light is crisp, yet soft and forgiving.  At full length (8-10 feet) it enhances the details in the clothes so you can see the texture, and if you move in closer for a head shot it has a way of smoothing out the skin tones which is very flattering.

I decide to do a few more trials on shows throughout the day and soon I have decided that I can use the ring flash for virtually all the shows.  However, as I mentioned earlier, I use a 2 light set-up backstage, so the genius thing for me about this ring flash is how versatile it is over my old system:  I can use it as a true ring flash which gives and edgy feel to the images; I can use it held to the side of the camera which is more like a traditional flash; I can turn down the power and use it a soft fill-light from the front with the second light acting as the key light.  With all these options (and a few others in-between) I have a whole range of lighting possibilities which I can vary to suit the overall vibe of each designer’s show.

Moreover, you can use it as a continuous light source for both video and photography which is ideal for me to shoot a close-up of a shoe, a piece of jewellery, or even get a shot of the eye makeup.  Again, using the light on or off the camera can give you a great lighting variety but as it’s not the strongest of lights it is better suited for close up work in photography.

50,000 frames later I can see how reliant I have become on the Omicron. There is certainly a place for it in any photographer’s kit who has to deal with fast moving and changing environments – reportage, weddings, events.  The TTL gives you the freedom to concentrate on capturing the moment and the versatility of the light means that you can easily create different lighting styles with this one source.

It is definitely my “go to” flash when I need to make complicated things simple!

Thanks, Quantum.

Robert Fairer


Be Portable… Be Prepared.

Swim PortraitThe available lighting at indoor youth sport venues can vary a lot. Often the overhead lights are similar to what you might find in a warehouse. To make matters worse there will almost always be a certain degree of chaos as kids, coaches, parents and officials move about. This can be a tough situation for a photographer to walk into. Today John Pendleton of shares his story of a tough sporting event assignment and how he made it all work.

Yesterday I had to photograph about one hundred young swimmers at a local swim pool. I had planned to use studio lights but during setup was unable to locate an electrical outlet. The maintenance man said the closes electrical outlet was on the other side of the pool and he had to locate an extension long enough to make a connection. Swimmers were already starting to signup and distracting inquisitive parents were busily pacing about asking questions.

Fortunately, I had a Quantum QF8N, Turbo3 and Turbo battery tucked in my bag. By the time the maintenance man found an extension long enough, I had photographed 80 swimmers. Experience has shown that during rapid sessions speedlights overheat and shut down while the Quantum system keeps pumping and pumping. I wouldn’t have lost the job but my reputation as a prepared professional would’ve been tarnished.

Thanks Quantum!

John Pendleton
Pendleton Imaging & Photography

Be Careful on the Stairs!

Event photographers often need to photograph a group of people on a staircase, either in an elegant home or catering hall. The staircase shot can be a challenge but positioning yourself correctly can produce a great result.

Shooting your subjects straight on from the top or bottom of the stairs will give you trouble with both the light falloff and dept of field.

If the layout of the room allows you to shoot from the open side of the staircase you will get a more even spread of light and all your subjects will be in focus.

You can even vary the pose by putting the main subjects (in a wedding the Bride & Groom) standing on the floor near the handrail and possibly include shorter people such as ring-bearer, flower girl, junior bridesmaid and junior ushers in front of the people standing on the stairs.