November 20, 2009

message from michael

I'm gonna get out and shoot today.  Turkey dinner is over.  Grab your gear and take some pictures.  Stayed tuned for some videos from me and Andy!


  1. I dig it! Just got back from a shoot by lake erie. Freezing but energized! Off to shoot a wedding later today!



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  3. I wanna see *WHAT* you shot! Here's mine (

    Edit from above...

  4. I used my 580exII for the first time this past weekend. I don't know much about my flash yet so I used it manually as ETTL mode renders pictures that aren't reliable for me for some reason :(...Anyway, it was in the afternoon so I attempted to turn day to night as well. I was facing the model straight on and my Off Camera Flash (shoot thru umbrella) was on my left at about 45 degrees. I posted my photo for CC and I was told by many PRO Photographers that it looks "flashy"...huh? I don't see it! *LOL* Am I blind?!? I believe my manual setting was 1/64th on my flash and my manual settings on my camera were 1/125ss, ISO 100, F5.6 at 25mm (Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 lens). I also used my Canon XT (just upgraded two days ago to a Canon 50D!! Wahoo)..anyway here's the photo with one flash....does it look too flashy?!?
    Here's my SIL :) my husband was gracious enough to hold the umbrella/flash for me *LOL* I get the whole family involve when I take photos! My kids are soooo tired of my camera! haha

  5. I looked at the 50"x50" Westcott Softbox... nice but my goodness, I can't afford all this photography stuff... I'm about to give up due to lack of money!! *LOL* I had my Canon XT for two years and my Canon 50D was purchased on credit... :) I want that softbox though, so, I'm going to put it on my long list of "to get" in the future! Thanks for the tip about that softbox, it's really nice!

  6. Carole,

    I for one do not mind the photo, especially if it was the first time you used the off camera flash. you did great for the first time!! Amazing to tell you the truth. eTTL, I've never understood it, I want to think and tell the camera and flash what to do, I don't want what some camera and flash programmer tells me what it should look like. Michael and I only use manual only. At least it works for us.

    The flashy look simply means that you need some volume in your photo. The model is well lit but the flashy look is caused by the blackness behind the model. and so much light on the model. Your shutter speed was a tad too fast and didn't let any ambient light come into the blackness giving it that "flashy" look. Hopefully that makes sense. But in no way am I saying I don't like the pic, just explaining what all those "PROS" are saying (so many labels, next time I go to the doctor I'm going to make sure he is a professional doctor).

    I like the composition and think you did great!!!!

    As far as using human light/umbrella stands, I'm all for it. Those are the best stands. Adjustable via voice command, you don't have to carry them and best of all they can do more than just hold flashes!!

    So to wrap up this long comment, the most important part is that YOU like it!! Also a little important if the client likes it...but besides that...nobody!!!

    Keep shooting, post it on our flickr group!!!


  7. Carole,

    Your umbrella is enough for now, but your next purchase should definitely be a softbox. You can control the light so much better. The 50" is a luxury, so if I were you I would definitely start off with the 28" one. Much cheaper, much more portable and you'll get 80% of the use of the 50"!!

    We started with the 28" and it was the best, and I mean best $120 we have ever spent. Definitely worth the effort if you don't have one.


  8. Andy!! Thank you for your wonderful comments! I thought the picture was TRASH after I got all those comments from the Pros :(, I know I have a lot to learn and such but I personally adored the picture until it got hammered *LOL*. I can take CCs no problem but when there's no positive comments (it's a great way to learn!), but I was starting to wonder if was worthy of anything? I always like CC in the sense of "what should I have done better to improve the image even more". I like my umbrella but I got what I paid for $10! *LOL* I'm just trying to get as much bang for my $$$ right now as I'm in learning mode at this point. I only shoot manual on my camera and my flash, I don't know how to use any of the other creative modes *LOL* I was told to learn manual and that's what I did and now I can't do any different. I second shoot a wedding several weeks ago and I tried to stay in AV mode cause someone had recommended it AND my word, within 2 minutes of shooting I said the hell with this I'm going back to Manual ! *LOL*

    Again, thanks for your comments and I'm definitely going to look at that smaller softbox!

  9. Well I think its a great shot Carole, I see what you mean about the photo seeming light, although Andy has explained why and I understand what he means! thank you both.
    I lost my ebay bids on an SB28 so still stuck on camera !
    seeking another sb28.....
    Hey Andy, how was the mobile shoot the other day?
    Michael back with your pistachio's yet :-)

  10. Can't wait to see what you've shot.

  11. @Carole, I like that picture a lot! and tbh think it looks great as it is. a slower shutter speed would have allowed more ambient light in as Andy said.

    I am also wondering if a second strobe behind her for rim light would have worked too, but thats just my mind wondering.

  12. Mathew: I thought the same thing when I was shooting the photo (i.e.: second light)...but I don't have one and I don't know what to buy to make that happen yet? I only have one flash and although I'm using it Off Camera, I'm not using a wireless trigger (it's cable triggered)... I can't afford a second flash/strobe/light at this point. I'm a mommy of two with just one income (my husband), so we are on a budget and it's "tight". :)

  13. Carole,

    A suggestion, not for this shot, but maybe for future ones. Get yourself a reflector for additional light. On ebay they are very can chinese away they are almost the same thing. Here's a link

    you can use it to bounce your single flash off and it will give you a second light source.

    As long as the flash is off the camera you are a step above the rest. Don't worry if it's cable triggered, works just fine as well.


  14. Thanks Andy! I like that!! :) I've been wanting to buy a reflector and I think this will do the trick! I'll let you know when I get it by way of practice and posting on flickr!!

  15. Andy:

    I just purchased the reflector! WAHOO...small things make me happy!! *LOL*

    I have a question about the Cyber Syncs Wireless Triggers... Are those the ones that you have to be "in-line of sight" in order to use them properly outdoors? I rarely shoot indoors, I'm mostly outside shooting so I need something that will "trigger" no matter where my OCF is at...meaning, if I'm 50' away from the subject, is it going to trigger? I just can't afford the pocket wizards! OUF! *LOL*

    Also, another question, I have a 580exII (I wish I would have started with a smaller/cheaper unit but I'll eventually need it's power for indoor low wedding receptions anyway)... Can I buy an older Nikon or any other brand flash and use both my Canon and Nikon and not have compatibility issues? I use my flash in manual mode as that's the only way I know how at this point but I'm sure the ETTL mode will eventually come in handy when I need High Speed Sync (for my 580exII)....ANYWAY, long post just to ask two questions...

    1. Cactus Triggers, can they be used outside without having to be inline of sight? Are they very reliable and for how far?

    and ...

    2. Can I buy a cheap flash to use as a second light??

    p.s. even though I'm an outdoor shooter, I plan on doing sessions at the comfort of my clients home (for newborn sessions, maternity, etc.)...So having more equipment is going to come in handy , especially that reflector that I just bought! Again, THANK YOU!!!

  16. Carol,

    The cyber syncs are radio triggers so they will even work through walls, so 50 feet outside is no problemo!! The cactus triggers Michael had and threw away because they sucked, but your mileage may vary. The cyber syncs are our favorite because of reliability, cost and durability. A set is only around $130 or so, so they really aren't too bad.

    If you use the speedlights in manual mode and with radio triggers the brand does not matter at all. You can buy cheap Nikons, Vivitars or anything else that you can get your hands on cheap.

    Let me know if you have any other questions!!


  17. Andy: I'll definitely go with the cyber syncs then :). I went to the website that you guys recommended to buy them at (alienbees), but I'm a tad confused as to which ones I would need to get since it seems like there's more then one trigger and receiver? I don't know all the technology lingo yet and I know nothing about "radio" triggers and frequencies *LOL*. I'll find out soon enough though I'm sure :).

    I really need to put a "want" list together and see what I can sell/get rid of so that I can get the stuff I need ! *LOL*

    Ok, since you've been so helpful, where do I send the Pistachios at??? :) hehe

  18. Carole,

    This is the transmitter we use (goes on top of the camera)

    and this is the receiver we use (hooks up to the flash)

    The want list is important but like you said, make sure it's stuff you need!! Get rid of all the junk you don't use. The equipment we listed on the backpackers studio post is what we use 95% of the time. It's more than enough for us. We do have more gear, but it's rarely taken out.

    I wish sending pistachios to colombia was easy...i'd have a ton just sitting here. If you want, no pressure, there is always the donate button...but again...NO PRESSURE!! We are glad to help free of charge. There is so much mixed info on the internet that we got fed up with it and launched this site. The main purpose is to teach, inspire and most importantly get people out to shoot a lot more and do this all for free online. Although we will be offering paid workshops that will be completely different than the norm, just like our site.

    Ok enough rant...let me know what else you need...remember you can always use skype to contact us, or email



  19. Thanks Andy for all the information! :)