Lighting!!

A few days ago I ordered, and received, two of each.

  • Yongnuo RF-603NII wireless transmitters and receivers;
  • Yongnuo YN560-III Speedlites (with built in wireless receivers compatible with the above RF-603’s);
  • BAVA Speedlite and Umbrella light stand mounts;
  • Westcott 43 inch Umbrellas.

This past Saturday I had a chance to try them out with Alyson at her home! I had previously booked a session on Saturday with Alyson, and I was going to use just my hot shoe mounted Nikon SB-800 Speedlight to do the job, but the arrival of the remote lighting gear presented an opportunity that I couldn’t resist! The timing couldn’t have been more perfect either because it was really dark that day. Heavy overcast and rain – so ambient light was minimal.

I set the lights up in her living room. From the perspective of the camera – one about 45 degrees off to the left, and up from the center of Alyson’s sofa, and the second one on the right side maybe slightly further away and about the same height – and with less power.  I mounted one of the transmitters to the hot shoe of the camera, and then shot a few test shots to adjust the power output of each of the speedlites. The goal was to use the first one as the primary light, and the second as fill.  There was also a window near where the fill light was positioned that brought in some ambient light too, but it was minimal.  Below are the results…  (clicking on any of the photos will open up a larger version)

Alyson, sitting center of sofa  (the vignetting I did in post using Lightroom)

As you can tell by the size of her pupils, it was fairly dark in the room, but the wireless speedlites did a great job of creating a nice, natural effect. The hair looks good, and there are no harsh shadows that you can get without some sort of diffusers over the flash.

Alyson

In this photo I moved over almost directly under my primary light and shot the sofa on a slight angle. Again the lighting did a great job of creating a nice natural look.  In hindsight, if I was going to do this over again. I would close the aperture a couple of stops to increase the depth of field, and then compensate by increasing the flash output power. As shot, the depth of field is a bit too shallow and her fingers are slightly blurry.

With flash photography:
Adjusting the shutter speed up or down – adjusts how bright the ambient light appears in a photo.
Adjusting the aperture open or closed – adjusts how bright the flash appears in a photo.

So if I would have closed the aperture a couple of stops, the flash output would have looked weaker in the photos. To compensate for that I would have needed to increase the output power of the flash heads (Speedlites)…

Alyson

And finally here’s a shot with Alyson laying on her side, and with me moved back more squarely in front of the sofa again.

All-in-all I’m very pleased with my lights!!  They are just Speedlites that run on 4 X AA batteries each, so no cords, and they have built in wireless receivers so they can be fired wirelessly from the transmitter mounted on the hot shoe of the camera!  Totally portable so I can take them where needed, and because they are just Speedlites that you would normally mount directly on the hot shoe of a camera, they are not at all heavy!!  Outdoor use though would require a few sandbags on the light stand legs to prevent wind from catching the umbrellas and tipping them over.

As a bonus, because the two Speedlites have their own built in receivers, that means I have an extra transmitter that I could set to be a third receiver and attach my Nikon SB-800 flash to it for a three remote light setup, OR I could set the transmitter mounted on the camera to transmit AND receive mode, and then use the extra transmitter to remotely trigger the shutter release on the camera.  This means I could get the lights all set up, mount the camera on a tripod, and then get in the scene myself, and push the button on the spare transmitter to take a picture of myself!!  Not that I would ever do that, trust me, Alyson is about 1 million times better to look at than me, but I could do that if I wanted!!  ðŸ™‚

Next on my list…  Backdrops!  ðŸ™‚

Below are a few shots that I took of just one light stand for illustrative purposes…

Light stand, Umbrella, and Speedlite

Diffuse, through the Umbrella light

A more directional, and shaped light reflected off the inside of the Umbrella

Speedlite settings.  Currently, 1/3 of a step over 1/128 power. 1/128 power is the lowest it will go.  Full power would be represented as 1/1 power.

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