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Im a Pro at being Amateur
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just bought a 580ex II and a small diffuser today, and am getting some alien bee cyber syncs to go with it.

My question is for those who use remote mounted (off shoe) flashes. How do you stand your flash up on the wall? or do you just adapt it to a tri-pod and get it as close to the wall as possible. i was thinking if i cant find a direct slide on "foot" for it. That i could use one of those mini gorilla pods to make a stable base and make an adapter as well. I can just design something that fits the screw end and the flash and make it at work on our 3D printer as a prototype and keep revising it. as the gorilla pod should be well strong enough to hold up a flash and a receiver.

What do you guys use, and think of this idea?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
nope new from B&H. i guess ill see how it works on the wall and stuff at da grove. if it doesnt i think im gonna make a custom foot/mount
 

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i just ordered it yesterday so i wont get it till friday. ill wait and see if it comes with one. I hope it does, but its not the end of the world if it doesnt.
 

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I bought a 580II about 6 months ago and mine came with a foot that it can stand on or attach to a tripod. I have a 430II that I mount on a tripod and adjust it up as high as it will go, about 6 1/2 ft and place it behind the car angled forward to light up the back end of the car. I use the 580II mounted on my camera to light up the front end.When I laid the 430 on the wall it seemed like someone would always stand in front of it and block my flash.

 

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And I bet they saw you mounting that flash while you were setting it up! :mad: Yes, Dom you should get the foot included with your package! I heard the gorilla pods work pretty well. :)
 

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very cool. thanks guys, cant wait to get it. i am also getting a cybersync wireless transmitter and receiver from alienbees. its gonna be a good year for shooting. Im pretty pumped to get the new gear and play play and play some more.
 

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well we will see how the gorilla pod holds up. if that doesnt work ill make a prototype mount for it to attach directly to the head of the tripod.
 

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Hey Dom, can you let me know how those cybersyncs work(distance wise and in what types of light) i want to get them but I keep getting told to get some pocketWizards but not looking to spend 450 for 3 of them! Thanks
Johnny
 

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i still havent ordered them, but do still plan on ordering them. but from everything im reading about people using them. They love the alien bee stuff and it works great.
 

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My 580 was waiting for me when I got home from Georgia. It is awesome and I can't wait to get using it and learning all the functions.
 

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I have a tripod and a light stand for the remote flashes.. But at tracks like GA sometimes the wall is wide enough to use the foot.

At night I like to raise the flash up higher so I can see driver's faces, that's why I put the tripod at the front of the car..

I could go on and on about figuring out how to shoot with side flashes if y'all are intereted.. I spent a lot of time on strobist, I did the remote flashes on the cheap with a combo of cheap stuff modified, and straight up homemade battery packs. I leave the 580EXII on the hotshoe, manual at night, the rest of the time it does wonders as a fill flash on auto
 

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I have a tripod and a light stand for the remote flashes.. But at tracks like GA sometimes the wall is wide enough to use the foot.

At night I like to raise the flash up higher so I can see driver's faces, that's why I put the tripod at the front of the car..

I could go on and on about figuring out how to shoot with side flashes if y'all are intereted.. I spent a lot of time on strobist, I did the remote flashes on the cheap with a combo of cheap stuff modified, and straight up homemade battery packs. I leave the 580EXII on the hotshoe, manual at night, the rest of the time it does wonders as a fill flash on auto
Don't know about everyone else. But if your willing to share, I'd love to hear what you have say. I have a ton to learn yet about every aspect of photography.
 

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Sure man.. let me put together what I have.
 

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awesome. i just ordered a gorilla pod and shoe mount for it today. im hoping i can put the flash in some unique places (either high, low, hangin off a poll or something) that can give me a "fresh" angle.
 

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Sorry I didn't get back to you earlier Dom.. I wanted to be thorough so hope you have a read and take in my experiences

Well, here is my take on remote flashes.. just a disclaimer that this is how I use them, by no means may it be the correct or best way, this is just how I roll. It has taken many a day and night at the track to figure out how to use flashes effectively, and by all means I am still learning each time I go out !! it is an ongoing process.


Another thing to throw out there, is that I am driven by laziness. I do not like to have to do a lot of post processing / editing at all. I try to do my best to make the photo count at the time it was shot and not have to screw with it afterwards... That's also a personal challenge to try and capture a great pic, and not have something look cool because I spent an hour with photoshop on it. If I spend 30 seconds on a picture in post, that's a lot for me. Rarely I'll have a really cool shot that I'll want to tweak up and make nice but that's maybe 1 out of 1000. Usually it's just a crop and then a preset in lightroom to screw with sharpening a little. I could get some much nicer looking pics if I worked harder with lightroom, that I am still trying to develop :)

That being said,

Equipment, I did on the super cheap. Why? Because it works and I have better things to spend money on.
I opted not to use Canon's built in wireless flash technology, because it needs line of sight and you have to be rather close. There is always someone standing in front of my flash blocking the IR port, or harsh sunlight, or me being down track to ofar, keeping this from working. If you were the only person around, than yeah, use canon's wireless, as you get high speed sync and that is nice.


Transmitters and receivers: are ebay specials, you can find them if you search ebay for "RD616." I did this modification on the transmitter to have an external antenna, and it actually gets very good range. For sync cables, I get them from www.flashzebra.com . I use mini plugs on everything in case I move to pocket wizards at some point. Speaking of pocket wizards, yes, they are great, but if you compare how much they cost, I think I did all right. Also, at big races (like Shakedown for example) there are a ton of photogs fighting for pocket wizard channels -- I don't have that problem. This transmitter and receiver combo works great IMO - they fire 99% of the time. The only goofy thing I have is when the receivers are near a 430EX flash.


Flashes: I am using Vivitar 285HV's for slaves. Why? Very cheap and effective. Stands/tripods get knocked over, it does happen.. I'd much rather have a $90 flash go over than a $390 flash. On full power, yes, you have to wait for recycle time, but you will for any flash. To hook them up to the receivers I use the hotshoe from flashzebra.com that has a mini plug on it. As for batteries for the flash, I made some battery packs out of 6volt 6mah batteries, and to connect them to the flash I got quantum battery cables from ebay, cut off the ends, and put some custom ones on. Bought 6 volt battery tenders, they sit on the chargers unless I am at the track. I can, on the safe side, estimate I can get at least 500-700 full power flash pops without having to change them out. Beats the hell out of double A's! I spent $160 and made 4 battery packs, which was the cost of one of these battery packs .. or compare to a quantum battery pack that is at least $300 PER pack.

Flash placement -- the side flash is normally around the door of the car, or at the back at an angle. Whatever you do, just make sure the rear flash is not at a 45 degree angle to where you are standing or you will get funny glare. Front flash placement depends if I am taking a shot very close to the starting line, or down a little ways.. I'll move the flashes to get what I want. Sometimes I am lazy and will put the 3rd and 4th flash out on the wall too, further down, so I don't have to keep moving stuff around. This is useful when there are random huge wheelstands 30 feet out like at that SGMP race :)


My hotshoe flash on the camera is a Canon 580EXII, I took out the PC port from the foot and put in a mini port. I hate PC ports. This flash is great, during the day, I usually leave it on Auto as it will do the trick for fill. At night, usually it is on manual as it will try to brighten things up a little too much, as it is not aware of remote slaves.

Ok.. on to the hard part, actually using them.
You have to take a few things into consideration before you go using these. First, sync speed. When I first started out, I shot with a high shutter speed as I was not very good at all with panning or following the subject. (disclaimer, I am referring to canon here - a lot of people with Nikon have the luxury of 1/500 sync speeds, at least) With my slaves and bodies, the max sync speed is 1/250 (you don't have this problem on a camera like a 1D for example, because it does not have a leaf type shutter. If you have a 1D though, you are not reading this, because you have lots of money and will get the expensive stuff :) ). Anything past this, and the shutter is already closing while the flash is still going off. You can cheat the max sync speed, however, because on canon bodies the shutter closes from bottom to top. So, for example, I can shoot at 1/320, and I won't get the benefit of the flash at the very bottom of the frame, but that does not matter to me because I'll frame the shot so that is wasted space on the track / below the car. To find out max sync speeds, put a slave flash in a dark room, aim right at it, and take a picture. Keep shooting faster and you'll see the black bars on the picture.. when there are no black bars, that's your max sync speed.


Next thing you'll have to get used to is making the shot count on one / not many tries. If you like to sit there and hold the shutter down and take 20 pics of each launch, you're going to be disappointed here. During the day, if I am just taking starting line launch pics, I almost always use the flashes on full power as a fill flash. You only get one shot here, so you either have to make it count, or be satisfied with having to brighten up things in post processing every now and then. Of course, this does not apply if you are doing some sort of panning, with these slower shutter speeds, you can turn down the flash power and get a few pops out of them before they have to recycle.

Here's an example of what I am talking about, look at the underside of this car.. in the first pic, flash fired.. in the second, it was recycling, so no nice view of the exhaust and suspension, had to (try to) brighten it up in post. Again, I am lazy, I'd rather I don't have to edit stuff, I'd rather the picture counts the first time.




If I have some sort of gradient filter on the lens during the day to try and tone down the bright sky, and underexpose it a little for it to show up nice, the fill flash helps bring back the light to the front of the car.
Not a great example, but in this case, the sky was really bright, casting funny shadows on the car. tried to fix that here


A lot of why I like the flashes is it brings out the little details on the car... like the grills, carbs inside a scoop, blades on a turbo, etc...
At night, I do crank the flash power down as you can get good lighting with 1/4 or 1/2 power, compared to needing full power as a fill flash during the day. If there is a cool skyline or something, I try and expose for the sky and then flash the cars as needed.. At a track with no lighting like Atco or Cecil.. generally the side flashes are on 1/4 or 1/2, hotshoe on 1/4, and I am in the neighborhood of 1/250 f/4.0 iso 400.

examples of exposing for the sky, flashing the car





hope that helps
 

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Discussion Starter #20
well that was a read. now i need to get some syncs and start playing. thanks a ton. at least it will head me in a direction instead of into the unknown.
 
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