Demo: Mixing Brands of Triggers


Introduction to Using Multiple Flashes


Lesson Info

Demo: Mixing Brands of Triggers

So now I'm gonna throw a wrench in everything I've said up to now. I told you earlier, a lot of the questions are it depends. And there's little hacks you can do to combine different brands of triggers. Okay? So let's say that you did this, let's say you bought a Nikon Flash or a Canon Flash when you first bought your camera. Oh cool, I got my SB whatever 5,000 Flash and or in the Canon world, I got my EX, what is it, 600 something like that. Great, oh, but I just bought this Amazon Flash and it was 28 bucks, cool. So now I've got two flashes and they're dissimilar in their communication protocol. And then someone came up to me and said, hey, I've got this old set of Alien Bees and you want 'em, they're only 250 bucks? And you're like, oh cool, I get two big studio lights. So now you've got, you know, the Nikon or Canon, you've got this Ebay tool, and then you've these studio lights from Alien Bees. How can you make it all work together? Well, you can and I want to show you how that wo...

rks. The key is to find a communication protocol that's the lowest common denominator. Maybe that is a pulse of light. Most flashes have a built in slave so that when they see a pulse of light, they will actually fire, cool. That can be your lowest common denominator. If that's the case, then all you have to do is find some way on your camera body to send out a pulse of light and that will trigger everything in the studio to receive it and fire off, cool. Maybe everything will work on a radio system or maybe you bought these Yongnuo's and you can put a little Yongnuo on each of these remote flashes that you have, but that's the key. The key is to find a way that everything can communicate from this base camera. So let me show you how we can do that. I'm gonna pull over a pro photo here and just show you how I can get a pro photo to communicate with a Nikon and an Amazon Flash, okay? Put that on there just for safe keeping. Alright, we'll do a Profoto with a little soft box. And I'll turn this to the camera so the camera can see what's going on here. I'm gonna turn it on. And you can see on this side it's got the modeling light. So I'm just gonna turn the modeling light off right now just to keep it simpler for us to-- there we go-- simpler for us to see what's going on. Okay. Slave mode and if you look right there you'll see this slave mode has radio and IR. Hm, what's IR? Infrared, infrared. Basically optical, light from any other pulse of, any pulse of light IR will trigger. So you can see these pro photos have two ways I can trigger them built into the head itself. If I push this button I can trigger it with only radio, like I have here, or I can trigger it with only optical light or infrared, or I can turn on both and now it'll trigger any time it gets a radio signal or it sees a little pulse of light. Hm, interesting. So good on Profoto for giving me those options. So now let's pull over another flash. I'll bring just a simple umbrella like this. Okay, so this one here. And I'm just gonna put, let's put that-- okay, so here's the Amazon Flash. So what do we have built into the Amazon Flash? Well we've got a mode called S and then we've got another mode that I haven't really talked about yet called S2. So for this I'm gonna use S and S1 is just the very basic slave mode. As soon as this guy sees a pulse of light it's gonna fire. But what is S2? Well now it gets complicated and I hesitated talking about this earlier cause I didn't wanna confuse the conversation, but S2 works in the Nikon and Canon wireless system when you're other flashes are in TTL mode. See when they're in TTL mode, remember what happens? The cameras send out a pre-flash and then that comes back to the camera and then the camera says okay now do the real flash. Well S2 mode ignores all that pre-flash communication and fires when it's time for the real flash. How cool is that? So I lied to you earlier, you can use these manual flashes sometimes in the fully automated TTL system, but it requires a little bit of forethought and knowledge. Today I'm not gonna do that cause that's just too much. So I'm just gonna keep this guy in S1 mode, S1. And I've got these little feet, these little tripod feet. Screw that thing on there like that. Put that here into the umbrella. And now we've got slave mode on flash number two. Okay, and I'm just gonna test it out real quick. I won't pull in a model quite yet. Let's just see if that's gonna work. Let's just make sure everything fires. So to do that, let me move this this way, on top of my Profoto air remote here there's a test button. So I'm just gonna push test. So that one fired, cool. But it looks like my Amazon basics one in slave mode is not firing. I wonder why. Well the reason why is probably because it's not sensing the light. So a lot of times these sensors, well in this flash this sensor is actually in the front of the flash so I gotta turn the body over that way so it can see. And let's see if it's gonna work now. And I'll turn it up too, I'll turn the power up just to see if it works. Hm, still not going. Let's try slave two mode, see if it works. And our Amazon Flash has ceased operation. Let me try it this way, let's see if that works. Huh, interesting. It worked, so it's firing when I push the test button. Okay, so here's what we've learned, the little slave sensor on the flash is not that sensitive. Maybe it's proximity, maybe there's something else going on, so maybe we throw in this radio trigger. Let's just try that. You know, this type of thing happens all the time when you're trying to mix and match brands of flashes. So I'll put on my Yongnuo. 'Member now, I don't want this guy to be a slave flash anymore I want it to be a manual flash. There we go. Turn on my Yongnuo, make sure it's speaking on channel one, group A and it is. Throw that in there. Now you see what I've done here on the camera is I've got my Yongnuo stacked with my Profoto. So they're speaking through each other. Now, bam. So I've got radio control going to my Profoto through the Profoto proprietary system and I've got a different technology radio control going to my Amazon basics flash through it's own proprietary system. Sometimes-- oops, stepping on my cable-- sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't work. Let's say that it didn't work. Well I can actually pull my Profoto off and remember the Profoto member it has a typical slave trigger? Now I'm gonna trigger that guy. Oh and that saw the pulse of light and it fired. So is that making sense? I'm just finding the communication protocol that will get everything to work together and I found it, now I can go off and I can add more flashes. Could you try a donut on the Amazon flash? Peanut? Peanut, yes, not a donut. I would love to try a donut on the back of the Amazon flash. Me too. Yes, let's do that. Let's do that, actually that's a really good suggestion. Alright, so what she said is, why don't we put this little peanut on the base of the Amazon flash and see if it triggers it. Here we go, take off my Yongnuo. Another nice thing you get when you buy the Nikon and Canon flashes is they have these nice little flip-lock levers to make it easy to pull 'em on and off. Alright, there we go. Now here's the downside of this also. This doesn't have a locking mechanism so I need to screw it on there. I could probably speed up the process just by firing it in my hand, but this makes for good visuals. Alright, it's got a quarter by 20 thread on the bottom, which is great. Alright, so I'm gonna put the peanut receiver eye pointed over that way, turn the flash head into the umbrella, and now, okay now, what do I need to do? What type of trigger do I need to have on top of my camera? Oh shoot, the Yongnuo won't work anymore cause I don't have anything receiving it so now I have to go to my Profoto, okay. So I'm gonna go to my Profoto. Alright, so now I've got my Profoto on there and when I trigger this my Profoto should fire and it looks like that's not working-- oh, I would help if I put it in the right mode, manual mode and make sure it tests. Okay, alright, so now I'm gonna push the test on my Profoto. Looks like that little flash is not happy for us today for some reason. Yeah, question. Could it be, it's a grid on the Profoto and the light's not getting over there? Could be. Why don't we blast it directly? Nah, there's something else going on. You know what I bet it is? I bet it's just not, I bet the pins are not aligning all the way. Yeah, so that's another good point. And this happens a lot when I buy third party flashes, the communication pins on the bottom sometimes don't line up perfectly with these generic products. So like this is a very generic peanut. It's designed to work with just about anything. So maybe the pins aren't aligning properly. So that's okay, I can throw, but you notice the pins did work with that little Yongnuo radio trigger. Therein lies one of the problems of mixing and matching all different types of flash equipment. You just never quite really know until you get it in your hands and in your studio if it's actually gonna work together. Let's throw in a Nikon SB 910, okay? So here's the Nikon SB 910, I'm just gonna turn it on and then I'm gonna go to manual power, throw this on the little peanut or donut. Now you got me hungry for donuts. Alright, and let's see if that works. Yeah, maybe the peanut is defective. Okay, so that's working. Okay, that normally works. Of course, we're live on TV so it's not working, but let me show you one other way to trigger this whole set up. So let's say that we were using this, this was working, the little peanut was working and this slave receiver here is working. Another way you can do this inexpensively is to put any flash on your camera, so here we're gonna use Mr. Amazon, and I'm gonna set up this flash to just be manual output and it's gonna put out a pulse of light at kind of minimum power and I'm just gonna shoot this up in the air. So watch what happens when I put test. Oh, there. So in this, see it pulses and that receives it and if I had some technology on that, that had a peanut that worked that one would trigger as well. So that's another very inexpensive way to have a trigger on your camera that triggers the whole studio. You just have to find a way to get the light from here to kind of spread out onto the scene. How do you do that? Well, there's these diffusion domes that you can buy and I like using those and that just kind of sends the light all around, all around the world, so. That's interesting, huh? Trying to get it all to work together. I think that's instructive also, as frustrating as it is it's instructive to know that you may have to struggle through this as well at home when you're trying to put it together. What would you do if this is happening when you're out on a photo shoot? Oh man. Not if, it's like every photo shoot this stuff happens. Practice, practice, practice. You know, you're always, for me, I'm practicing this stuff at home and to be honest before this class that I taught in my studio where I'm at I put all of this together and I was trying every conceivable combination, it was all working just fine, but this will happen and it will happen on location when you've got a paying client staring at you in the face saying, what's going on? So the key is, back to an earlier slide, you have to know the technology and you see right there I was able to mix and match different technologies to get it to work. I'm like, okay, I fundamentally understand how this trigger is working. I get it, I understand everything in the background for why it works this way and when it fails then I can go to a different technology that I do understand also how it'll work. So that's what I do, is I just bring along backups, I bring along maybe a couple of different types of triggers. People who photograph sports in big venues, big professional sports, a lot of times there's so much radio interference in the venue that things like pocket wizards and other technologies have a hard time communicating. And that's where I said sometimes you just have to go to the old school method of just wires, just wiring everything up together. It's painful, but as a professional photographer, you have to bring along those backups. If you're an amateur and you're just doing this because it's fun, well okay, tell your neighbor to come back tomorrow and you'll make them some brownies to make up for their lost time. Yeah, good question. Others? Do you, are you able to control the individual Profoto's separately with the commander, the Profoto commander? Yes, you are. That's the neat thing about the Profoto system is that you can say this one, they allow up to six, so I can make this one up a little bit or down a little bit right from that air remote, which is cool. The alternative is just going up to each individual flash and just rotating it. And each of these numbers means stops, so six is one stop brighter than five. Yeah, Profoto's great, you know, it's a little bit out of the scope of the class today. I"m not gonna really spend a lot of time talking about this type of gear, but I just want to show you that you can integrate it all together. And all the time I used my Nikon and my Nissan and my Amazon flashes with my Profoto gear. They do a great job. The key isn't necessarily the flash itself. The key is your application and technique with your lighting modifiers.

Class Description

If you want complete control over the image you’re taking, you need to use multiple flashes. Mike Hagen will take what appears complex and explain how to make it achievable to help get your studio lighting to an elite level.

Mike Hagen will walk through how to build your lighting setup with two, three, four and even five flashes. If you're figuring out what lighting gear to purchase, this course will help by showing you:

  • Camera settings and sync modes to capture the best exposure
  • How to use the various trigger methods
  • The different roles each light plays in creating your image
  • How to shape the light for the most control over your final image
  • How to build your knowledge comfortably from 1-5 lighting setups

Whether you’re shooting portraits, buildings, or products - controlling all the light in your image can improve your photography from good to GREAT. Mike Hagen will teach you how to light and create every shadow and highlight by using multiple flashes in your photography.


Marty Walker

This is really a fantastic class and at an even fantastic-er price. Well worth the money, and is a great help. The instructor does a very good job explaining the methods, light shapers, and effects they create. One of my favorite videos!

Jeph DeLorme

Mike Hagen does a great job of presenting what could be a complicated process in a way that makes it easy to understand and implement. Not only does he make it easy to follow along, he presents alternative solutions that don't break the budget. I have viewed several instructors and various classes at Creative Live and this would definitely be one of my favorites. I have to say, this class would be a bargain at 10x the price!

Tim Stapenhurst

What can I say about this class? Mike is great- not only does he give a thorough break down of all the equipment one could need but he also includes wide variety of price options for those just getting started. Aside from his thorough knowledge of gear, Mike provides an excellent and easy to follow bread down of how to build up the light for your subject. His lesson plan is super easy to follow and very concise as he slowly builds up from using 2 lights to 5 lights. He also demonstrate what I think is a much needed trait in a photographer and that is being cool under pressure, dealing with issues and not getting rattled and simply going back to the basics. Creative Live Nailed it with this class