Choose the Right Lighting System
I specialize on on location photography so I need things, what? Least amount of gear, maximum utility. It's got to be lightweight, portable and fast. And so, if it doesn't qualify in those things I don't use it because it doesn't work for me. And so, I wanna bring as least as possible to do my damage and so, size actually matters for me in everything, right? Okay. So, first of all, my cameras that's why I love the Sony full frame mirrorless cameras because really they're only the, they have full frame, right? It's the smallest and lightest camera with the largest sensor that's why I use it. I'm sure the other brands are great too but because it has full frame and it's very affordable and it's basically, look at that. Almost like half the size. I could fit two cameras in where I normally fit one. And you know, I'm getting a little bit older doing this for about 15 years carrying all that gear on your back for 12 hours. It gets real, physically it gets tough on you after you've been doin...
g it for 10, 15 years. And your wrist holding that, so it saves me physically for that and just portability I love it, okay? Basically you can see my entire camera bag right? Which is right over there. I can put everything, a couple lenses. Okay, four lenses, two full frame batteries, a couple flashes and a video light, 15 pounds. Okay, that's it and it's just, I could put it, fit it all in a small backpack like that and I can go do and do my damage wherever. Basically 99% of all my lighting situations I can manage with two manual flashes, a video light and a shoot thru umbrella, that's it. That's good. And so, here's some options that I use. Really basic manual flash, a video, strong video light and an umbrella and I love the umbrella because it's so fast. I guarantee you if you shoot on location, right, you could have some amazing soft boxes and all that kind of stuff but in general you're just gonna go to the umbrella because it's a lot faster and it's easier to set up and you can break it. A lot of places when you shoot on location they're clamping down to more and more places that you could shoot. And so, if you can kind of do your damage, shoot it and then bring back down that soft box real quickly or whatever or that diffusion. But if you're walking around with a big old soft box around on your monopod or whatever, uh oh, professional photographer. Goodbye, you're gone, okay? And so, that's why up, down, up, down, out of the way, it works perfect. And the reason why a lot of people don't like to use the umbrella because it spreads the light all over the place and you can't really control it. But if you're outdoors and there's nothing to hit against walls or there's nothing to reflect that, to edit, to alter your image, that works fine for me because I'm not worried about that light reflecting off this wall and then hitting that background or whatever. In the outdoors it doesn't matter. If you're a studio photographer, yeah, I mean I would consider using a lot more soft boxes and all that kind of stuff. But outdoors in general you don't really need it, okay? Choosing the right flash system. Let's kind of, I see it as this. There's the simple and there's the complicated. And so, let me kind of explain that. One, look at the back of that darn flash, okay? Look at all those different settings that you have on a flash like that. Let's just take for example a very popular flash, it's the Godox v860 which a lot of people use, right? It's a TTL flash. Okay, these are all, I'm gonna tell you all the settings that you've got to do to get this to work to do on camera, okay? First of all you got to decide, is this gonna be a master and control the flashes or is it gonna be a slave? Do you know how to set that on your flash right now? Can you do it within a second or so, right? On top of that, you got to decide, do I wanna shoot it in manual? Do I wanna shoot it in TTL? Do I wanna shoot it in high-speed sync? Do I want multi flash? Do I wanna do ratios? What happens you wanna do it in manual you actually hit ratio. In one or two seconds do you know how to get it back into manual? Right? The thing is in the real world buttons get pushed all the time and you can look at that and go, "Oh my gosh, how do I go back? "What did I just do? "I guess we're doing natural light today." (laughs) Right? That, so not only you got that, now you have this then you got to say, well, am I gonna have this fire with the internal Wi-Fi system there or I'm gonna make it slave and fire off when it sees another flash? What happens if it accidentally gets into the slave mode? Do you know how to turn it back or vice versa? On this flash you have to actually go through the custom function button and know which custom function it is. Do you know how to do that? Are you willing to learn that, right? Then you got to choose the channel that you're on, okay? So, you got to set all the flashes to the right channel then you got to choose the right group after that and assign what flash, and they have a lot of groups there, okay? And so you saw me, oh, what flash is that on? Sometimes it's easier just to go over on the back and turn the power instead of like asking what group the flashes are and so forth. Then we talk about that, the zoom. What is the zoom set on? You hit a button it's exact, it's accidentally not on 35 anymore. It's on 70, 80, 100, 200, whatever. And then you have all your custom function buttons to, oh, I wanna make it beep. Where's that at, right? You got to line all these stuff up before you even start shooting it. Then there's a transmitter, you've got to do that, right? You've got, oh, I got to make sure the channel is, I know how to control the channel and get it to the right one to fire those group of flashes. And now I have to adjust the power and learn and how to adjust the power on all the different flashes that work together with those, okay? So, to me that's kind of complicated. So if I told somebody, you go on the forums and they say, "Oh, this is the best value "because it does so many things." Okay, yeah, that's true but you forget about the usability factor of it. Is it so daunting that you look at it and go, you know what and I know this is a fact. People buy this stuff and never use it, maybe for a year or two and just sits there because they got to realize, oh, I got to set it up and they don't do it. Okay, and so that's great, I love it. I actually use a system like this, I don't use TTL, I use manual but it's because I use it every single week and I still don't quickly get to things, and I use it every single week, okay? So if you're a photographer and you're planning to use your flash and you're just starting out, I'm not gonna recommend this system because there's so much on your mind. Now you're gonna worry about posing, now you're gonna worry about composition then you're gonna worry about this on top of that. That's gonna slow your creativity process down. It's gonna bog you down, it might frustrate you at some point too, right? So I suggest if you're using a kind of off camera flash use a very simple basic system, right? And so, (laughs) here's my flash. That's the only things that you can do to adjust on it, that's it. I don't give you very many options on there. So this is my manual Strobie. One, all you got to do is decide between if you want it to go be triggered from a Wi-Fi situation or you want it to fire when it sees another flash. And that's simply done, you just go through your mode section and it has the M there then it has the S and then you just whatever when you want it. It's quick, right? You set the channel here so the channel is these dip switches here. You just have to make sure that your transmitter is matched to that situation. And then you adjust the power on your flash and literally I know it's convenient to, let's say you're using five flashes and you have them all over the room, in that particular case it might be great because you can control the power all over the place. But a majority of the time it's just you and the flash over here and maybe another flash, right? It is literally just as fast to come over and change and I usually work with an assistant so change that power on the main flash and that if I happen to use two. And you just go over there and change it. There's no thinking and there's no, oh, I hit the wrong button and scrolling through and all that kind of stuff. And so, it's very easy so I have a transmitter. All you do is set that configuration to equal that. In fact, my previous model I made it even simpler and I took out that. But sometimes when you're all shooting in the same situation you wanna be able to not have your flashes go off when another person is using the same flash next to you and so you have to change the channel. And that's it, okay? So if you're just starting out I say you go with a manual system first because it's way easier. And if you wanna learn how to do that Crazy Stupid Light is the perfect thing, workshop to show you how to do that. But if you wanna go and say make the commitment that I'm gonna use this every week, this is fine, okay? But starting out is here, after you master that, get that down like the back of your hand, yeah, then graduate them to something more complex if you need it, right? The only thing that it really can't do is give you high-speed sync but you just use a simple ND filter and you're good to go there too and sometimes. Oh, another thing is, so, I teach you a manual system. I tell you at what f-stop that flash can be and that's predictable. But when you go to high-speed sync it's a completely different power scale. Even depending on the shutter speed. So, that's why it changes like crazy there too. So, high-speed sync at 1/4000 of a second is different than 1/250 and 1/300 of a second or 1/8000 of a second. So you got to adjust your power that way too so it's a whole new learning avenue once you go into high-speed sync also because it's a different scale completely because it uses a different method. Sometimes you see here, okay, I wanna just shoot at lower f-stops, I'll just slap on an ND filter. Bam, there you go, okay? So, depending on where you're at those are the type of things that you got to consider, okay? And so, it's always not the best value for the more features. It's about whether you're gonna use it or not. Okay, so let's get into how this channels works, right, really quickly. Here you're in the TTL, your complicated system. Your transmitter will control. So if you set this to channel one it will control all these flashes within maybe a 300-foot range. And then you can control A to A, B to B and so forth. If you set this to channel two you can have a whole another set of flashes that you can control this way, and they have up to 32 channels. I don't know if anybody needs that many but that's your option. So that's how you set that system up, okay? And so here's the transmitter, you saw that, right? A can control that. Now you have the option, oh, I could control it with manual, I can control it and use, I could put A in manual, I could B in TTL, whatever you wanna do you can have that control over which is great. But then it's more buttons and things you have to scroll through to get that right, okay? And then here's, they can overlap. They can be in the same area but you can independently control them still, okay? It's not like they have to be in totally different areas, okay? Here's the more simpler method, right? You set the channel there, you have your transmitter and that's basically it. You control the power with the flash, if you change it to channel two it's gonna control, you do a different channel, it's gonna control a different set of flashes that way and that's very simple and you can get going with that, okay? So this is what I recommend for the beginner especially because it's just a lot more simpler and you can basically do the same thing.