Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tech Update: Radio Poppers and Wedding Photography

I have grown to love my Poppers and flashes.  I now travel with three Canon flashes: one 580 EX2 on the camera to drive it all, and a 430 EX and 580EX2 remote as slaves.  These are all driven with RadioPoppers, which allow full TTL control of the lights.

For outdoors (wedding groups, families, seniors), I usually use one remote flash.  But I'll sometimes use two, for main and fill, especially when fighting a bright back sky, or in a very dark room.

I have two Lumiquest 6x9" softboxes that stick on the front of the flashes, and that helps to soften the impact a bit.  I also have gels that will tweak the light, though I'll admit I'm not great at using them yet. 

I have also made the switch to the new high-power rechargeables.  I chose the Sanyo Eneloop batteries, because they come out of the box charged, don't lose their charge over time, and are rechargeable for over 1000 cycles.  I have 6 sets (4 each) of AA's (for the flashes) and 3 sets of AAA's (for the Poppers). I can get a whole wedding day (that's hundreds of shots) from one set of everything - though I'd burn through them if a lot of the shots were outdoors in daylight.  I just recharge everything Sunday morning for the next week.

Here's a good example of the kind of impact I'm getting with the remote strobes.  The images were taken at a local ballroom, noted for high ceilings and very dark lighting conditions for receptions.  I work here often, and struggle to get good reception exposures.

As you can see in the first image, there's very little "kicker" light from my flash, which was working hard to bounce off of the ceiling 30 feet above me.  While technically clean, the result was a longer exposure at high ISO, with some grain and little separation on the subjects.

The next image has essentially the same shooting angle and subjects.  This night also had some kicker lights on the walls adding a purple stripe and some color interest, but no real added illumination.  In this case, I put a 580EX2 to camera left (behind the bride) on a stand at 6 feet high, with the 6x9" soft box.  It provided a nice kick on the wedding dress and separated the subjects from the room.

I'm now working on developing the placement of two or more strobes in the reception halls to provide the light kick to work at lower ISO's and higher speeds, but still provide some great directional light.  The balance is in choosing the right color and levels to blend with the ambient, so the subjects are not fully lit by the strobes, but nicely highlighted by them.

1 comment:

  1. Radio Poppers are just great. I use them on Nikon. So far they can't be beat on Nikon. See how I use them at

    I use the standard Pocket Wizard II's as well.

    I hope that this helps.