Unlike ordinary still life subjects, smoke and water can have endless varieties of forms and shapes. The unpredictability and uniqueness of each capture are what make taking pictures of them so intriguing and attractive to many people.

We have previously covered topics on how to take photographs of smokes, wafer drops, now here is tutorial on how to photograph water waves. The detailed tutorial was authored by Chris Nuzzaco, who has a flickr page here.

Posted in Tips and Techniques on April 25th, 2010. 1 Comment.

What will happen when a Nikon SB-800 in SU-4 mode (dumb optical slave mode) is placed amount a group of Canon flashes that are setup for Canon Wireless SpeedLite Flash system triggered by the Canon ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter?

That’s what one guy tried to do and the result was interesting: The SB-800 seemed to work ok but all Canon flashes (a 580EX and a 430EX) refused to fire! How could this be?

Well, I offered an answer that is plausible. Basically, the Canon Wireless SpeedLite System (WSS) works in a similar fashion as the Nikon Advanced Wireless Lighting (AWL) system. The ST-E2 is equivalent to Nikon’s SU-800. Both systems use series of infrared pulses to communicate with and trigger the remote flashes. Canon’s communication protocol is incompatible with Nikon’s. That’s not the problem in this case though as the SB-800 was not setup as a CLS remote flash but as a dumb optical slave in SU-4 mode, which will fire upon seeing any light, including the infrared signal from the ST-E2. The light from the SB-800 is then seen by the Canon flashes. Because the light from the SB-800 cannot be perfectly in-sync with the ST-E2 pulse in terms of timing and duration, the Canon flashes will see extraneous signals and get confused. Read More…

Posted in Photography Lighting on April 24th, 2010. No Comments.

The YN-460 is a very low cost manual-mode-only shoe mount flash made by a Chinese company Yongnuo. It has become very popular in the strobist community due mostly to its low cost and good performance.

In order to change flash power level, the user is required to physically push the buttons on the backside of the unit. This typically means running back-and-forth when setting up the lights if they are used off-camera. If you are handy enough to use a soldering iron and program a micro-controller, you can make your life much easier. Read More…

Posted in DIY Photography on April 22nd, 2010. No Comments.

Most of you probably know that electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light, which is 299,792,458 meters per second (in vacuum. It is slower in air or other media but that won’t really change the discussion). If you use a set of RF wireless triggers for remotely firing flash across a distance of 100 meters, a simple math tells you that it takes less than a microsecond for the signal to propagate. However, that’s not where the most delay comes from when a typical RF flash trigger is used.

The transmitter, sitting on the hot shoe of your camera or hooked up to the PC sync port, detects the change of voltage as the sync signal from camera, then sends command over the RF to the remote receiver. The receiver determines a correct trigger command has been received then it fires the connected flash. All of the above happens really fast but it still takes time. Read More…

Posted in Photography Lighting, Tips and Techniques on April 21st, 2010. No Comments.

If you have read our previous post titled Understanding Flash Sync Speed, you probably know what high speed sync (HSS) is. If not, or you need a refresh, read the post or watch this video instead. The following discussion of HSS may be a little too technical or detailed but the hope is to clarify some of the confusions I have seen in a few internet discussions. Read More…

Posted in Digital photography, Photography Lighting on April 17th, 2010. No Comments.

Our Italian reader Ale (who recently commented on DPTnT on this post) has been working on an interesting DIY project (Italian) for more than a year. From what I could read with the help of Google Translation, it started as prototype transmitter/receiver built using Microchip PIC16F690 demo boards that had functions similar to the RadioPopper PX system. Basically, the transmitter picks up the light pulses from popup flash of a Nikon camera in commander mode then sends the signal over radio frequency waves. The receiver then duplicates the signal at the infrared sensor window of the remote flashe. The benefits of such CLS-via-radio system over the original infrared-based Advanced Wireless Lighting (AWL) communication are no line-of-sight limitation, longer range, and more reliable operation. Read More…

Posted in DIY Photography, Photography DIY on April 15th, 2010. 1 Comment.

I started to look at the communication between Nikon DSLR camera and Speedlight flash not long ago as documented in the post titled Nikon Flash Interface. It turned out to be quite easy to control a Nikon Speedlight flash using a low cost micro-controller board such as the Arduino Duemilanove. I will show you how this can be done using a simple example: instruct the flash to emit the pre-flash. Read More…

Posted in DIY Photography on April 14th, 2010. 3 Comments.

On the paper, the Nickel-Zinc (NiZn) rechargeable battery is great for shoe mount flashes: Higher voltage and lower internal resistance than most NiMH rechargeable batteries, which translates into faster recycling times for flashes. How much faster? According to this document, it can be 50% faster!

Is that all good? It is definitely not if the voltage is high enough to fry the circuit of your flash. It certainly happened. Here are just a few examples:

Here is an informative comparison between PowerGenix NiZn vs. Sanyo Eneloop NiMH.

The bottom line: if you need faster recycle times and are not afraid of frying your flashes, NiZn rechargeable batteries are certainly able to provide the thrill. Other than that, NiZn rechargeable batteries don’t seem to be good for anything else. You should be prepared to pay more for a NiZn-compatible charger and reduced cycle life.

For more discussions of using NiZn rechargeable batteries in flashes, read those Strobist discussions threads on Flickr.

Posted in Accessories on April 12th, 2010. 1 Comment.
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