Help with off-camera lighting equipment

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by missy_kay, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. Hello everyone! I am purchasing the off-camera flash set used by Jasmine star and I have some very specific questions.
    1) Can anyone please put together a list of the equipment I need on BHPhoto? I know she mentions what she used but doesn't the lite dome need a stand as well? That's not mentioned. And I looked up light stands on BH yesterday and there are over 30. How do I know which one to get? Can anyone send BH links? It would be much appreciated!
    2) Instead of the sunpak flash, can I use my extra 430ex? That sunpak flash isn't sold on the bh website.
    3) Can anyone post a picture of how to use a pocketwizard and a flash on your camera at the same time? When I was an assistant, the photographers used just the pocketwizard. Is it easy to set up?

    Thank you all so much! <3
    God Bless!
  2. 1. you need 2 pocket wizards (1 for flash, 1 for camera); cords to attach to your gear, 1 light stand, adaptor for flash to mount on light stand, softbox
    1.5 - you can you any light stand that you everything - you get what you pay for.
    2. Yes, you should be able to use the canon flash vs the SunPak
    3. you'd have to play with that...but if I were going to attempt it, I'd use gaffer's tape and tape the PW to the bottom of my camera - or to the top of the flash - some place out of the way.
  3. Hi Missy,
    It's great that you want to start using off camera lighting. But I think it's important to find out what you want to use by doing some more research and not just using what Jasmine Star uses because she posted it on her blog. Ask the photographer you assisted some very specific questions about there set-up and why they choose it. Head down to your local camera store and ask lots of questions. They wil be more than happy to help you find the right set-up for YOU.
    Yes, you can use a pocket wizard and a flash on your camera at the same time, but not without some modifications. Jasmine had her camera body altered by her local camera shop, they attached a mount for her pocket wizard on the bottom of her camera and then she puts the flash in her hotshoe. Ask your local camera store if anyone in the area could modify your set-up for you.
    I know I didn't really answer your questions but I think it's important to do some of the leg work yourself and not just rely on others to provide you links. Hope I'm not being too harsh, that's not my intent. I just think you wil know more and be better by figuring out exactly what you want to use.
  4. Missy-
    I'm sure others can specifically answer most of your questions, but thought I would post this just in case you are still seeking additional info. I had a similar issue with a lighting kit I was interested in purchasing, and wasn't quite sure about which accessories I needed to complete my set up. I called B&H and talked to their CS dept. They directed me to a lighting expert that answered all my questions and helped me purchase exactly what I needed. It was great! If you don't get the answers you are looking for here, give B&H a call, and I'm sure they will guide you in the right direction.
  5. From all your previous posts it seems that you like jasmine star a lot. @_@
    1. a stand is a stand.. just get one that works. if it can hold your flash and the modifier that you want then that's good enough.
    2. yes, a flash is a flash, no need to buy one that is exactly the same as hers.
    3. what you mean, you hook up pw to the flash..not sure what kind of picture you need.
    it seems to me that you still have basic questions when it comes to strobe/flash equipments.. I suggest you do some more research before just diving into new equipment simply because you saw it at someone else's blog.. go read strobist, look at pw's website and decide what will work for you before you spend 500 bux and then decide it's not for you.
    To me it seems that you are trying to go into the world of off camera flash without knowing how to use on camera flash first..... learn how to use the flash while it is on your camera first... then you can start experimenting with it off your camera..
    my 2 cents..
    A small correction to my post - and a link to Adorama (b and h may not sell or be listed as a reseller of this product) - The $139.00 price is for the complete kit - stand, softbox and adaptor - all you need is a flash, which you have.
    Now - with that being said - just using the same lighting technique as Jasmine doesn't mean that you'll get the same results... Looking at the photos - she has a unique eye and style - one that takes a while to get...along with exceptional venues and couples...
  7. along with exceptional venues and couples...​
    it's easy to make pictures look good when you shoot at fancy venues. i wonder how great of an images can jasmine * create if she was shooting at the local Y. :)
  8. The 430 flash does NOT have a PC terminal. You either need an adapter to plug a standard Pocket Wizard into it ( OR you need the newest Pocket Wizards where the flash just goes in the shoe ( As already mentioned, lightstands are lightstands and you get what you pay for. Some people like shorter lighter stands. I prefer a solid 13' stand. If I don't need 13', great. But I have it when I need it. You will also want a couple of sandbags for your lightstand. Please, skip the softbox. At the distances you will be using it, it does nothing but rob you of flash power. You are MUCH better off simply bouncing the flash off the wall or ceiling. If you are outside or simply can't bounce, then just use direct flash.
  9. Mark T -
    I was actually thinking of the local VFW hall or Legion ... ;-) Smoke stained walls and carpet that was new in 1946.
  10. A similar set up, but a bit simpler, perhaps?
    You can see her amazing portfolio here:
  11. Depending on the size of the venue, one softbox with an on camera flash might not always be enough to light a venue, you'd probably need at least 2 more powerful strobes with a different kind of modifier, plus the flash on your camera for fill... With all due respect you don't even know what you need to buy, how do you expect to know how to use it? Do you have much experience using studio flash? Do you know how to read distances and how that translates to light fall off? You're going to have a hell of a time shooting a wedding with off camera flash if you don't know these things and how they relate to your own set up...
  12. If you read Jasmine's blog, you will see that the set up linked to by David Haas is exactly what she lists. I'm sure you can find it at B&H. You would then need to add the following.
    1. 430EX. You need to use it in manual flash mode, using partial power settings. I would also adjust the zoom setting to fill the softbox.
    2. Pair of PWs. I'd get the 'old' ones. New ones seem to have a bit of trouble.
    2. Hot shoe adapter (call Lon at and talk to him. He will tell you which one). Also verify the cables you need to go from the adapter to the PW acting as receiver, and the cable needed from the PW acting as transmitter to the camera. Some cables will come with the PWs. Others might not. It depends on how you connect the transmitter PW.
    3. A way to attach the PW acting as transmitter to your camera while there is a flash in the hot shoe. There are various ways. One is velcroing the unit to the flash. Another is using a straight bracket so it sits on the left side of the camera. Another is attaching it to the 1/4 20 tripod hole on the bottom of the camera. I've also seen people use a Custom Bracket Mini RC to hold the PW. I personally use Cybersyncs, and the transmitter is smaller, so I dangle it off the camera's strag lug on the left side.
    In the above cases, you attach the transmitter via cable to the PC socket on the left side of the camera under the rubber covers. It is fairly awkward and the PC plug isn't the most reliable. The cable needed is a 1/8th miniplug to PC cable, which might come with the PW.
    You can have Michael Bass install a sub miniplug sync socket on your flash(es), so you don't have to use the PC socket on the camera. It is much nicer, but an added expense. You would need different cables also, which may not come with the PW.
  13. i have the new minitt1/flextt5.... other than the RF noise issue that now they have fixed with a stupid sock they work fine for me...although shooting weddings in a room the range issue is not that big of a deal.
    cybersyncs are cool starting to believe i shoulda gone with those than pw's but now i'm too invested in pw to walk away @_@
  14. Good to know Mark. I just heard too many bad things, but if they got it worked out, that's good.
  15. As soon as the pocketwizards minitt1 for Nikon is here I'm getting one. Too bad the pocketwizard have to take the blame for Canon's products when it's not their fault that canon speedlights emits a lot of radio frequency interference. Nikon's (or anyone else's) speedlights have no such problems.
    BTW, the 430EX and 580EX II are the worst offenders so if the op intends to use 430EX with PWs I suggest using any other flash or a radio trigger system in the 2.4GHz band if you can live with shorter working distance.
  16. Too bad the pocketwizard have to take the blame for Canon's products when it's not their fault that canon speedlights emits a lot of radio frequency interference. Nikon's (or anyone else's) speedlights have no such problems.​
    i disagree. it's not like the interference weren't there when they created the product. they knew about it and yet they still made it without addressing it..
    let's say a new phone comes out on the market but it does not work when your tv is on because the interference from the tv messes up with the phone... who would you blame? the phone maker or the tv maker?
    /end thread jacking
  17. Hey everyone!
    Thanks to all who answered the questions above. I did go to Adorama and try to speak with the lighting guy but he was really rude and it seemed like he was bothered by me asking all of those questions. It was really disappointing because about 10 minutes earlier I bought the 5d mk2 from their other department and I expected a little better service! Anywho, this is why I decided to go with BH photo. I did assist/second shoot for photographers who used off camera flashes and they showed me how to set them up, but none of them use flash on the camera too, and they didn't use the box to bounce the flash. That is why I posted these questions.
  18. but none of them use flash on the camera too, and they didn't use the box to bounce the flash.​
    there is a reason why they don't use the box to bounce the flash.
    again...i suggest you go and read and learn more about flash basics rather than ask internet forums for a quick answer and be done with it. i remember you asking about flashes way back last year and you are still not grasping with the basic concepts now.
    stop being lazy and start reading more and research into it. you need to put some effort into this, not just ask ppl for the instant gratification. i understand this is an internet forum and ppl do come here to ask questions and stuff...but you need to also show that you are doing things on your own as well and not come here everytime you have a problem and want someone else to explain them to you.
    i see on your website you are charging 2-3k per wedding.. you need to start acting more like professional and less of a hobbyist..
    not being rude, just saying things the way i see them. like i always do. and right now i'm a bit scared of what i'm seeing.
  19. Just a thought after looking at your web site.
    Looks like you're using off-camera flash. What equipment are you using?
    The pocket wizards are easy to operate compared to an optical trigger system.
  20. stop being lazy and start reading more and research into it.
    You know what Mark, don't even bother responding if that's how you're going to come off. You're not adding anything useful to the thread at all! I am doing research and I am asking here in the forum. After all that is what these forums are for. I don't know why time and time again you respond to people the way you do, but it's uncalled for. I would appreciate it if you never responded to my questions again because you have NEVER added anything in terms of knowledge to ANY of the threads. All you do is complain.
  21. let's say a new phone comes out on the market but it does not work when your tv is on because the interference from the tv messes up with the phone... who would you blame? the phone maker or the tv maker?​
    Mark, I'll blame the tv maker for not checking their design for RF interference. Who knows what other devices would be affected by their design - the remote to the garage, the alarm to the house?
    But this analogy doesn't really apply in this case. You see, all pocketwizards (not just the TTL ones) are affected by the radio frequency interference that the offending canon flashes (430EX, 580EX, 580EXII) sends out. And pocketwizards have been around since the late 90s, well before any of those speedlites. And the pocketwizard frequencies are still the same (they are backwards compatible).
    What is useful in this discussion is that some (most?) of Canon's speedlites don't send out much radio interference for instance the 430EX II, 550EX, 420EX and 270EX. So they would be a good choice for off camera flash.
    It is also good to keep in mind that triggers that don't depend on TTL are brand agnostic. You can trigger almost any kind of flash regardless of which camera you use. So for instance an old Nikon flash like the SB28 would work perfectly off camera triggered by a Canon.
  22. Mark, I'll blame the tv maker for not checking their design for RF interference. Who knows what other devices would be affected by their design - the remote to the garage, the alarm to the house?​
    hang on... so ur saying, even though the tv maker made their tv still blaming them because they didnt think what frequency future products might use? there is something wrong in that logic reasoning.
    the flashes were created has no way of knowing what frequency pw would use in their future products.... pw should have checked better which frequency they can use to minimize interference with EXISTING products..that is why there is an FCC....
    and the new tt1 uses much more frequencies than the old PW models.... the old PW remotes have no issues, only the new your reasoning of the PW being around from the 90s don't really apply either.
  23. Mark, I'll blame the tv maker for not checking their design for RF interference. Who knows what other devices would be affected by their design - the remote to the garage, the alarm to the house?​
    as for would be more accurate to blame the phone maker...if the phone maker did not check their design for RF interference. Who knows what other devices would be affected by their design - the remote to the garage, the alarm to the house?
    after all the tv works perfectly..( they did their homework )... the phone is what its interfering with existing product - the tv - ( they did not do their homework since the frequency that the tv uses would have been listed).
    /end thread jacking
  24. Kay,
    don't get bothered by responses here. It's just the way the internet is and it takes all kinds to make the world spin.
    On the question asked:
    I don't use boxes in 99% of weddings as they 1) cut too much light, 2) are huge and obtrusive, 3) require enough height as to be out of the way of heads walking by (with bodies attached of course) and take more setup/breakdown time. The idea of a softbox is that it will envelope the subject with softened light. If you move it away from your subject (assuming that small a size) more than about 10-12', the effective light size shrinks enough as to loose its effective softness. It will keep some of that quality, but not much. So, for the off cam lighting, you may be better to use either no modifiers or bounce from available wall's and ceilings etc.
    Getting your off cam setup right is a trick and can be done many ways. I have a set of PW's that I used till the advent of the radiopopper for weddings. The thing you have to remember with PW's is they don't adjust the flash, they simply trigger it. The Radiopopper has the advantage of using a radio to both trigger AND control the off cam lights. So now you can set the off cam light manually and control your light with your aperture, or you may employ riding the flash output up and down on the back of your flash unit. The other method is to use E-TTL and learn how to compensate the exposure for what the camera thinks. Using E-TTL will give you varied and sometimes unpredictable results, which is why you have to really get to know what to expect in a given circumstance. I have been practicing a lot this off season with using TTL and its really hard to get very consistent/predictable results. Doable but tough. The cost of RP's and PW's (for a setup) is in the hundreds for either, but the RP's can do more... just at thought.
  25. The thing you have to remember with PW's is they don't adjust the flash, they simply trigger it​
    that is true if you compare to the older PW models..the newer pw do transmit ettl data. although a quick look at RP's website says they can adjust B800 settings..that is useful..
  26. Here's the B&H equivalent. It is apparently a Photoflex kit.
    Two Pocket Wizards. Note the miniphone to PC cable comes with. On the one going to the 430EX, you use a lanyard to hang it from the stand somewhere.
    2 different hotshoe adapters.
    You may want to look at the following.
    Or the following to put your PW next to the left side of the camera, where the PC socket is. However, you will need a cold shoe which will 'dangle' the hotshoe contact or use an insulated cold shoe like the one shown so you don't misfire the unit on the metal plate.
    There are other ways to connect the PW to the camera, as mentioned above.
  27. Don't think that Pocket Wizards are the only way to go. Consider the Elinchrom Skyports as an excellent quality, extremely reliable, much smaller (than previous gen Pocket Wizards and probably roughly similar in size to the new ones), and a lot cheaper alternative. Of course they only support manual flash as per the previous generation Pocket Wizards, but I am hoping they shortly produce a ETTL version as well.
  28. You may also be interested in the following. I believe the unit can be screwed to the tripod socket of the camera.
  29. MK,
    off topic, but wanted to mention it... I like your website, but the brick/ivy shot of the b&g is really dark, even on my macbook with its supernova LCD screen. It looks cool but doesn't really seem to jive with your soft & bright style.
  30. Hi Kay!
    You can get the same items you are looking for on at a better price. However, if you want to go to a store that can offer you assistance with lighting without a side a rudeness. Go to located close to broadway and Canal St. its a small store but the staff is great, even over the phone. You can also go to on 22th St. and 5th Ave, the prices are great and the staff is great too. Adorama is a good store, but they do lack in customer service big time. I also purchased a Canon 5D from their store and I asked about using flash and a PW at the same time and the rep had no idea what I was talking about. In fact the rep told me that , such thing was NOT possible, didn't even bother to check. I just made my purchase and left.
    Good luck!
  31. While frequenting and supporting local camera stores can be a good thing, I'd refrain from asking camera store salespeople about anything important, unless you've developed a long standing relationship with a particular person you know to be honest and knowledgeable. By nature, salespeople will sell you what they have in stock, or what they can make a nice profit from selling. And unless they are photographers themselves, they aren't going to know all the ins and outs of photographic technique and gear.
    Better to research online, since now, you can pretty much find out anything about anything online. Also, unforutnately, smaller stores aren't going to have the variety of gear that one might want. The Photoflex kit, for instance. Calumet doesn't stock it. Plus, it is good to know about specialty places like Flash Zebra or Michael Bass. You can't find what they carry at the big stores.
    As for 'copying' what Jasmine Starr does, it doesn't hurt. It wouldn't be what I'd choose, but there is no harm in getting the gear, using it, figuring out what one likes or not, and adjusting the set up.
  32. >>they didn't use the box to bounce the flash.>>

    The soft box is not really bouncing so much as it's more a shoot-through softener. Which makes me think Ms. Star must've been in a small room, because that's going to cut down the amount of light traveling to the subjects on the dance floor. Plus, as it will only light the area in front of it, are you going to plan on waltzing every one over to where you have the softbox set up all night long?
  33. G.E. makes another good point regarding the use of softboxes. They are relatively directional light sources.
  34. If you look at the blog images, you see that the off camera flash was actually used as accent/rim light most of the time in large rooms, something which a bare flash could easily have done without much difference in the quality of the accent/rim light. In only a couple of images is it used as key light, and one of them is a situation where Ms. Star might have waltzed the couple over to the softbox. Either that or they happened to be near it.
    In any case, as I said above--doesn't hurt to get the specific gear, play with it and figure things out from there.
  35. an umbrella is probably a better choice since the light spill is much wider than a softbox.
  36. there is no harm in getting the gear, using it, figuring out what one likes or not, and adjusting the set up.
    Thank you... I agree
  37. Hi Missy,
    Check out the Strobist site ( for some good lessons on how to use off-camera flash. Be sure to check out all the tutorials on the right side of the page. Another good source for lighting is Scott Kelby's "The Digital Photography Book", Volume 2. Very easy read with allot of good suggestions on equipment and a section on weddings. You can also find a bunch of 'strobist' videos on youtube. Also, for less than half the cost consider using a "Cybersync" by Paul C. Buff for your wireless trigger. These are very reliable and build extremely rugged. Good luck.
  38. David Ziser is also a master of off camera flash. Check out his blog for a wealth of information.
  39. I have had a set of studio lights for twenty years. I have used them in a number of venues but rarely at one of my weddings. Why? As someone said, softboxes are most effective close to the subject to soften features by surrounding the subject with wide source light. They are directional. As you move them further away they become increasingly less effective for this primary skin softening purpose. I took a course from Monte Zucker where he advocated the use of bare bulb flash which is by definition non-directional for this function. If you don't know about Monte he was one of the all time class acts in wedding photography until he passed away in 2007. What I learned in my weddings is to keep things simple when it comes to lighting in order not to miss pictures when the action picks up. I always felt I was there to record the event and not to give a lot of direction and to place people where my lighting was the best. I still use my studio lights on location occasionally. I would, if I were to use a bare bulb, take my flash meter ( 20 years old also) to assure correct exposure.
  40. I would second the Strobist site as a good place to start. IF funding is any kind of issue with your new set-up I would urge you to consider the Yongnuo Rf-602 radio trigger/rec/shutter releases.
    These are the latest from Hong Kong and have a range of about 100 yards(which is all you really need) radio-controlled so no need to worry about line of sight, and most importantly you spend about $50 and get one transmitter and two receivers, so for less than $100 you could have an entire back up system.
    They use batteries that are not proprietary. I think AAA and one of the CR2 lithium that is a bit pricey at about 7-10 dollars. These provide trigger only and you can not adjust output of the flash-but neither does the Pocket Wizard.
    If you are a Canon shooter you might check into the flashzebra site- they have a hot-shoe replacement for Canon flashes for about 50 bucks that is any easy switch out that gives you a standard plug at the base of the flash for connectivity.
    Shipping from Hong Kong takes about 2-3 weeks. At the very least this would be a much more affordable way to try this out and if you do not like it you can sell those things easy on ebay and you will not have a great deal of money invested. Do a search on ebay for Yongnuo RF-602 and you will get lots of options. Most of us buy from the seller that has Youngnuo in their name. DealExtreme also sells but seems to take longer to ship. BTW shipping is FREE!
    Bob Wyatt
  41. I second the choice of radio popper. It's in the 900mhz range so doesn't have the interference problem that the PW does. I would probably get a few strobes off camera (two) and get some stands. You'll have to do lost of playing around first so you can figure out what works. If you want to save some money just get 3 canon flashes and use the limited range canon wireless first then get the radio poppers.

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