TweetThanks for the guesses on the setup for this shot.  Some of you were pretty close.  Zach G was actually the closest with his first guess.  With the spread of light needed ,and the gel, a single speedlight could not do a good job of being the pink light with a Ranger at the back. One guess was that the pink light was continuous light from a bar and I think it’s worth pointing out why this could not be the case.  Flashes are many many times brighter than continuous light, the urban scenes I shoot are often also lit by continuous lights for the film crews to use for their filming.  But they are shooting with a 1/6o second shutter speed and I’m trying to go much higher.  Now if there was a continuous pink light, you could do a long exposure to bring the light into the shot, but for every millisecond the shutter is open after the flash has fired, that pink light would effectively begin to erase everything your flashes lit up.  In this it would have blurred the front of the skier as the continuous light exposed his movement.  Thanks for all the guesses though, nobody got the bonus points for camera and lens combination!  Maybe next time?!

When we came to this spot in Edmonton last winter I knew right away that I wanted to do something a little different.  Using gels is not something I do very often but I always carry a set of large ones with me.  I think it’s THESE ones right here that I have.  I don’t have any sort of fancy way to attach then to the Elinchrom Ranger, just plain old duct tape!  Never go anywhere without it!  So I played with a few different colors until I found one that seemed to work pretty well.  I really liked the color of the yellow bar, but the gel on the flash took away from that.  In order to get that shaft of regular colored light I used an SB80 DX with a home made snoot.  When I say home made , what I mean is I rummaged in the back of my truck until I found something to roll up, then I stuck it to the flash with black electrical tape.  I do this kind of thing a surprising amount, just last week I made some flags out of empty sushi boxes because too much light was spilling onto an opposite wall from a rail I was shooting.  All snoots and flags do is block light, there’s nothing too technical about them so you can use pretty much anything.  Worth mentioning too is that the gels cut down quite a lot of light from the flash and it depends what color you are using so make sure you put the gels on first to figure out your exposures.

My lighting diagram is not that awesome, drawing was never a strong point of mine so there’s also some extra photos to show you.  Whenever I’m setting my flashes up I always fire some shots with just each flash on their own so I can appreciate exactly what each light is adding to the scene.  In the photo on the left there is just one flash but in the end I switched that for two in parallel so that I could halve their powers and hence halve their flash durations too and still get the same exposure.
I had some trouble with the snoot to begin with.  The roundness of the opening had a major effect on the softness of the light falloff at it’s edges.  Much more than I was anticipating.  I had to put some tape around the front to smooth the magazine out but it turned out pretty good in the end.  As the snooted flash wasn’t casting any light on the skiers it didnt matter what the duration was going to be and it’s distance from the railing was only determined by the spread of light created by my snoot.  Move it a bit further away and the spread was greater and softer.

The home made newspaper snoot !

The final exposure on the shot was 1/200 f5.6 iso 250 and for the bonus points it was taken with a 5dMKII and a 17-40 f4 L lens.  Incidentally the temperature was about -25 degrees Celsius.  At that temperature I didn’t experience any battery or camera issues but predictably one of my Pocketwizards did give up.  They are always the first thing to go.  I actually had to wire a sync cord to my camera from the Elinchrom Ranger to fire that.  Sync cords might be crap, but always have a backup plan if people are relying on your photos.  So yes to those who guess Pocketwizards partially correct, the transmitter in the hot shoe fired the smaller strobes and a hardwired sync cord fired the Ranger.

The exact same setup was also used in this shot of LJ Strenio.

I buy all of my photography gear from the guys at B&H Photo.

Equipment used for these images:

Canon 5dMKII

Canon 17-40 f4 L

Elinchrom Ranger RX

4 x Nikon Speedlights

4 x Pocketwizard Plus II


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