Remote Flash and a new Mountain Bike Shoot

With the shoot this weekend I wanted to accomplish a couple of tasks. Well now that I think of it…three tasks. The first was to test out a couple of things using the new PocketWizard MiniTT1 & FlexTT5 units. As I mentioned last week I was eager to test out the high speed sync feature because in the past I’d been limited to shooting at 1/250th when using my strobes. While I was at it I was interested in testing the range of the new PocketWizards. I’m a long time user of the PocketWizard Plus II models and have yet to have any range issues…I was curious to see if the new models would perform the same.

The second thing I wanted to tackle was a shot set up that I’d been eying for a couple of years now. Off to the side of one of our local mountain bike trails is a large ridge line that I’ve ridden past hundreds of times and have always pictured a rider on the ridge and me shooting it from down below. There isn’t an official trail there but I knew with some effort we could hike up and make it happen.

The last thing I wanted to have happen was making the shoot fun. Many times with a lot of technical things on my mind I can forget that I’m doing something I love.

The weather had been looking pretty blah and I hadn’t seen the sun most of the day…but as we parked and started unloading the bikes and gear the sun peeked through the clouds. Perfect start! Due to the distance of where I wanted to shoot, Charles and I were to be the mules for the day. I carried my camera backpack and Charles was nice enough to load up and carry the the light kit.

We found our first spot ( Note: Not the ridge line I mentioned above. More on that later in the post )….I apologized to Charles for lying about the distance (I was off by about 20 minutes..not in a good way) and I began to set up the strobes. In this first shot I was able to play with all sorts of sync speeds. I started to think maybe it gave me too many shutter speed options. On a “normal” shoot like this my first step would be to set my shutter speed to 1/250th and then move on to my aperture and ISO as needed. Today I wanted to try all sorts of shutter speeds now that I had this new freedom. In talking with the guys from PocketWizard I was told that flash power would probably decrease as I pushed the shutter speed higher. I did see this but not so much that I couldn’t find a usable amount of light for what I was shooting…After a few test shots at various speeds I settled in on a range of 1/320th to 1/500th. All this sync/shutter speed talk might not seem like a huge deal to those who don’t shoot action, but this is a big win for me and shooting sports shots. I’m hoping to do a mid day shoot soon with more sunlight where I can get the shutter speeds even higher.

Since I was close to the action in the set up below I didn’t test the range of the PocketWizards…That would take place in some shots later in the day. After grabbing a few shots I was happy with, I packed up all the gear (assistants? anyone?) and we were off to location two.

Exif Data:
Camera: Canon 7D
Exposure: 1/320th @ f/16
Lens: Tokina 12-24 f/4 shot at 12mm
Strobes: Boling 300 watt x 2 (Tripods were used for light stands. Works out much better on uneven terrain)
Remotes: PocketWizard MiniTT1 & FlexTT5

[Click image for a larger view]

After a bit more pedaling we arrived at the ridge line and I gave Charles an overview of my “vision”…I’m sure my words don’t always paint the picture of what is in my head, and in this case I think Charles just wanted to do some riding. The clouds continued breaking up and we had some great spots of blue sky.

Once I set up the lights and fired off a couple of test shots with Charles at a standstill, I hiked to a lower position and asked Charles to hike up higher for his run in. My new lower position allowed me to test the range of the new Pocketwizards.  I wasn’t out to disprove anyone’s claims on firing distance, but I wanted to test for scenarios that I’d probably find myself in the future. In this case I was probably 100′ away from the strobe unit and it was out of my line of sight. I was impressed that they fired in all of our shots.

You can see how things came together in the shot I’ve posted below.  When I first rode past this spot I hadn’t thought about using strobes to light the rider…I really just wanted someone on that ride line. I’m happy with the final results of this image…I got to test some new gear and we had a few laughs in the process. Again click the image for the larger view.

Exif Data:
Camera: Canon 7D
Exposure: 1/640th @ f/5.6
Lens: Tokina 12-24 f/4 shot at 12mm
Strobes: Boling 600 watt x 1 (Tripod was used for light stand. Works out much better on uneven terrain)
Remotes: PocketWizard MiniTT1 & FlexTT5

Just as with my blog post on my light kit, I didn’t set out to to a detailed tech review of the new PocketWizards.
For those looking for a very detailed review of the new PocketWizard products please follow this link.

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