Category Archives: Strobes

You don’t need big bucks

Recently, I watched a high-end photo shoot demonstration where multiple Broncolor studio lights and power-packs were used to photograph a bottle of single malt Scotch Whisky.  At least four Broncolor Strobes with Broncolor Strip boxes and focusing light modifiers were used to capture the image. It was an excellent demonstration and the results were great.  Well here is my version:


Westcott was kind enough to provide me with a set of Rapid Box Strip lights that I decided would have to do the job.

Each Rapid Box Strip was mounted on a light stand and a Nissin DI866 flash head triggered by a Yongnuo wireless trigger was used as the light source.  A third Nissin i40 flash also triggered by a Yongnuo trigger was used as the light for the label on the bottle.  A Rogue Flashbender was formed into a snoot to concentrate the light and prevent any spill.

The camera was a Panasonic Lumix GX8 with the Lumix 35 – 100mm f/2.8 lens. A Yongnuo mounted on the hot-shoe was used to trigger the lights.  Exposure triad: f/7.1, 1/100 sec, ISO 200.  Lens focused at 42mm.

Here is a behind the scenes image.


Also posted in Lens, Lighting, Mirrorless, Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Panasonic Lumix GH4 Firmware update announced


Panasonic has announced a Firmware update 2.5 that introduces several enhancements introduced in Lumix G series cameras since the GH4 was originally introduced.

Post Focus
Post Focus is a special function that enables users to select an in-focus point after shooting. It has already been integrated in new LUMIX cameras such as the GX8. This feature allows you to change the perspective for greater photographic expression or to choose the best in-focus shot for macro shooting.

4K PHOTO (4K Burst / 4K Burst (Start/Stop) / 4K Pre-burst)
With 4K PHOTO mode there are three dedicated modes – 4K Burst / 4K Burst (Start/Stop) / 4K Pre-burst – are all now available on LUMIX GH4*. The addition of these modes further enhances the usability of 4K PHOTO to capture fleeting photo opportunities at 30p.

External Flash Burst
A new feature supporting consecutive shooting with flash burst is available with an external flash that is capable of continuous emission. This includes the following Panasonic models:

* Discontinued models are compatible but have some restrictions due to slower charge speeds

The firmware will be available at the end of March 2016 from the following link:



Also posted in News, Panasonic GH4, Photography, Software

One Day Workshop Schedule

_DSC4115-Edit 3

The following is the workshop schedule for the first half of 2016:


Workshop details are available from the Registration Page.

March 20 – Macro and Close-up Photography

March 26 – Flash Photography, High Speed flash, creative lighting

April 3 – Macro and Close-up Photography

April 9 – Portrait and Lighting Techniques

April 10 – Digital Photography A-Z.  This is a one day three part course that will teach you camera basics, post processing and printing.

June 4 – The Digital Darkroom – a course that covers image capture, asset management, processing and enhancement, output to print and web media. A one day program for digital image making workflow

June 5 – Flash Photography, High Speed flash, creative lighting

June 11 – Timelapse Photography, post processing and video assembly

June 12 – Macro and Close-up Photography

If you have any questions or would like more information please call 617-759-0010 or email

Please use this REGISTRATION link to register for these workshops.

Also posted in Composite, Flowers, High Key, Lighting, Macro, Mirrorless, Noise Reduction, Panning, Photography, Portraits, Software, Stacked Image, Time-Lapse, Tips, Workshops

ND Filters’ Color Cast comparison – Vü 10 stop Sion, Lee 10 stop (Big Stopper) & Formatt Hitech 8 stop

The Lee Big Stopper was introduced in 2010 to compete with the Hitech 10 stop filter that was known to have flare and other issues. Subsequently Hitech reengineered their 10 stop filter and emulated some of Lee’s design features. In particular the the light blocking gasket.  Soon Lee introduced the Little Stopper while Hitech developed a wider range of solid ND filters the Pro Stop line from 6 to 10 stops and in multiple sizes.  Most recently I was introduced to the Vü system and hence this test as a comparison. I will do a full review of the Vü system in the near future.

As I own the Lee Big sStopper and the Hitech 8 stop with the Hitech holder (I do prefer the Hitech to the Lee holder) I was keen to understand the differences in the way high f-stop ND filters impart a color cast when used. Hence this test.  Please click on the images to see a larger version.

The set up was fairly simple.  Using a Sony A7R II and a Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens set at f/2.0 and a base ISO of 50, shutter speed 1/125 sec.  The light source was two Elinchrome studio strobes positioned to give a 1/3 stop exposure variation at the edges.  The camera was focused on a white foam-core board with a X-Rite Color Checker Passport clamped to the upper right corner.  Camera white balance set for flash rather than a custom white balance (5450 Kelvin) and an “as shot” tint of +9.  I wanted to allow for any variation in the white of the foam-core board that is typically not 100% white be adjusted in post.

The test exposure was made and the white balance adjusted in post using Lightroom – this is the image below.  White balance adjustment yielded a temperature of 4750 Kelvin and a tint of -1:

Control Shot

Next the strobes were adjusted to full power providing 8 additional stops of light.  The ISO was adjusted to increase sensitivity by two stops while the aperture of the lens was kept at a constant f/2.0 for all the exposures. Each filter was tested for color cast only.

The Lee Big Stopper (10 stop ND)

The Lee Big Stopper (10 stop ND) was mounted and the image as shown below was captured. This is as a screen shot so as to show the RGB histogram.  The info panel shows the reading from the center of the captured image.  Values are R=219, G=229, B=243

Lee 10stop at corner

Color Values measured in the center


In this next image the Info Panel shows RGB values from the lower third of the image. Values are R=187, G=203, B=222

Lee 10stop at center

Color Values measured in the lower right quadrant

Next the image was white balanced in Lightroom WB to 8600 Kelvin and tint +43. Compensated for the color of the board and the lights the calculated readings are 7900 Kelvin and a +35 Tint adjustment.

Lee 10 stop WB to 8600 and tint +43

Lee 10 stop WB to 8600 Kelvin and tint +43

The Lee Big Stopper exhibits a heavy blue cast in both the center and the edges.

Formatt Hitech 8 stop ND filter

As I do not have a 10 stop Formatt Hitech filter, I chose to do the same test with the 8 stop that I own. As with the Lee filter before, here the info panel shows the reading from the center of the captured image.  Values are R=234, G=238, B=236

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 5.05.05 PM

Format 8 stop – Color Values measured in the center

In this next image the Info Panel shows RGB values from the lower third of the image. Values are R=209, G=220, B=212

Format 8 stop - Color Values measured in the center

Format 8 stop – Color Values measured in the lower right quadrant

Next the image was white balanced in Lightroom WB to 5750 Kelvin and tint +52. Compensated for the color of the board and the lights the calculated readings are 5050 Kelvin and a +44 Tint adjustment.

Formatt 8 stop WB to 5750 and tint +52

Formatt 8 stop WB to 5750 Kelvin and tint +52

The Formatt HiTech 8 stop exhibits a heavy green cast at the edges but is more neutral in the center.

Vü Sion Q 10 stop Neutral Density Filter

The Vü Sion 10 stop ND filter mounted using The Vü professional filter holder (more abut this in a future post) and the same test was performed. As before the image captured is shown as a screen shot showing the RGB histogram.  The info panel shows the reading from the center of the captured image.  Values are R=235, G=235, B=239

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 5.15.29 PM

Vu Sion 10 stop – Color Values measured in the center

In this next image the Info Panel shows RGB values from the lower third of the image. Values are R=211, G=214, B=219

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 5.15.44 PM

Vu Sion 10 stop – Color Values measured in the lower right quadrant

Next the image was white balanced in Lightroom WB to 5800 Kelvin and tint +13. Compensated for the color of the board and the lights the calculated readings are 5000 Kelvin and a +5 Tint adjustment.

VU 10 stop wb adjusted 5800 tint +13

VU Sion 10 stop WB adjusted 5800 and tint +13

The Vü Sion 10 stop is very neutral in the center an has a negligible shift at the edges.

In conclusion I am very impressed with the Vü Sion 10 stop and is near neutral rendering.  My full review of this system is forthcoming.


Hunts Photo is offering my students and workshop participants a 20% discount on all Vu filters and holders! All you  have to do is call 781-662-8822 and ask for Alan Samiljan and tell him you are one of my students.  He will give you the discount. UPS Ground shipping is free in the Lower 48 and there is no sales tax except for orders shipped to MA, RI or ME.


Also posted in Accessories, Blur, Lighting, Motion, Photographs, Photography, Product Reviews, Sony A7R, Tips, Zeiss

70 South Gallery – Lighting Workshop


Outdoors at noon against the stone walls of a church

The 70 South Gallery – Lighting and Model Photography workshop was a huge success.  Thanks to some great organization by “Adventures in Photography” (NJ, NY and New England) and the 70 South Gallery, Morristown, NJ.  The workshop was sold out and we were fortunate to have decent weather for some of the outdoor shoots.  I would like to thank the participants, the models and the organizers for all the hard work and support that made this so awesome.

Studio lights were Profoto and Arri, outdoor speed lights were Nissin and personal on and off camera flashes.  Lastolite reflectors and the Phottix Luna but dish were also incorporated in the various sessions.

Also posted in Accessories, Educational, Lighting, Photographs, Photography, Portraits, Presentations, Workshops Tagged , , , , , |

When all you see is snow and the temps are 17 below.

There is no point freezing in these temperatures so here are three images begging for spring.  Each was shot using a Zeiss 50mm at f/ 1.4 and a shutter speed of 1/80 to 1/100 sec, ISO 100.  A high key setup with a single strobe on the background and two for the flower.  Each image was compiled from a stack of 6 to 9 images for the best DOF.

Image personality achieved by post processing in LR5, PS6, NiK and Macphun.




Green Mums

Green Mums





Also posted in Flowers, High Key, Photography Tagged , , , , |

Fog – In the Dark

In continuation of yesterday’s post, the second image I had pre-visualized was a barn nestled among some dark trees with a figure in some vintage clothing standing in the foreground.  I wanted to light the figure for some added effect.  Driving in a nearby town I notice this barn or shack, so my wife and I decided to check it out.  It was close to what I was wanting to capture.  My wife put on this vintage coat and trudged through the slush to the shack.  I in the mean while took a few test shots to check out the light and composition.  I had not worn proper boots and was wearing a pair of slip ons. In the rush to get out and shoot, as luck would have it, as I carried the light stand and soft box to the shack I realized I was ankle-deep in slush and freezing water.  Next my pocket wizards decided they would limit their range  so I had to get closer than I wanted as all I had taken with me was the 35 – 100 mm on my GH4.  To get the full shot I would have to take two images and stitch them.  The final image is composed of two images stitched in Photoshop and then textured.

Please click on the image for a larger rendition.

In The Dark Fog

In The Dark Fog

 5:00 PM – Panasonic Lumix Gh5, 35 – 100 mm f/2.8 at 35mm. Exposure triad – ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/6 sec.

Also posted in Mirrorless, Night Photography, Panasonic GH4, Photographs, Photography Tagged , , , , , , |

2015 First Quarter – One Day Workshops

Faux IR Iris

Faux IR Iris

Wishing you and your families a Very Happy & Prosperous New Year

The One Day Workshops for the first quarter of 2015 have been posted.

They are listed on the One Day Workshop Page


You may go directly to the Registration Page to get details and register.

All one day workshops include a Pizza Lunch

Also posted in Accessories, Educational, Photography, Portraits, Presentations, Software, Time-Lapse, Workshops

What else is in my bag and more – Part 2

Here are some additional items I find useful.  Some for the bag and others that are just good to have.

  1. Remote Shutter Release (wired or wireless) – A must have for tack sharp photography. There are 5 types available:
    • A wired version that physically connects to your camera with a cable. Good for most photography when you are close to your camera.
    • An Infrared trigger that is used to trigger the shutter using an IR beam (this requires you to be in “line of sight” to the front of your camera. These are usually OEM products but a few third-party devices are also available. I find these limiting.
    • A wireless radio trigger.  This is a two unit device – one is mounted and connected to the camera and the other is the hand-held controller. Hahnel and Phottix are the ones I use.
    • An iOS  or Android wired trigger. The smart phone is physically connected to the camera to trigger the shutter.
    • The IOS or Android trigger.  Here you use your smart phone and connect to the camera in WiFi mode to control and trigger the camera.
  2. Filter wrench (pair) –  These come in two sizes and based on the lenses you have you may want to get both sets. Amazing how screw-on filters just don’t come off.  The plastic wrenches allow you to apply pressure at the right places and lever the filter off so easily.  Adorama branded wrenches are less than $5 a pair.
  3. LED Head Lamp – a must have when you are in the dark.  Always carry one in your bag.
  4. Intervalometer – A must have device if you do any timelapse. long exposure, or multiple exposure photography.  From basic wired devices to wireless units these are made most cameras including ones that have built-in intervalometers. Phottix, Hannel, Canon all make great units.  Promote Systems makes a product called Promote Control, one of the finest devices not just an intervalometer but a whole lot more. The Promote Control will do focus stacking, automatic brackets of up to 45 images, with up to 9.0 EV step between shots for HDR. It can even automatically step into Bulb for night-time HDR!  More expensive than the others but the Promote Control is my first choice.

    Flash Photography:

  5. Flash Gels   Filter gels are a great way to modify the color of your light but more important, they can balance the color temperature to match the ambient light. Roscoe and Rogue make excellent gels.  My personal choice is the full set with the case and elastic band from Rogue. The Rogue set is around $30.
  6. Rogue Flashbender  – These flash diffusers and reflectors are the best I have used.  The come in multiple sizes and when used with the front diffuser, that act like a small soft-box.  The cam be molded to direct light as needed or rolled up to form a snoot.  These start at $20 for the Flashbender bounce card..
  7. Rogue Grid – If you need more control with the direction of the light from your flash the Rogue Grid is an excellent tool. The design features stacking honeycomb grids that produce 16, 25 and 45 degree grid spots.  In addition you can get a set of bells that match the shape of the grid collar.  The grid is under $50 and the gels will cost under $30
  8. Kupo Off-Camera Flash Alli Clamp – The clamp has a jaw that can clamp onto items up to 1.57″ thick. Rubber nubs on the inside of the clamp prevent damage to paint or furniture. The clamp has a 5/8″ receiver for light-stands or a 5/8″ stud for super clamps with matching receivers. The Alli Clamp is topped with a metal locking shoe mounted to a rotating ball for your flash.  I use it to mount my flashes, action cams, video lights and any other objects that need to held in place. Cost under $50. A lighter version called the Kupo Alli Clamp is for under $15.

    Macro and Close-up

  9. Focusing rails and racks – These are ideal for precise positioning of a camera in X and Y directional axes. These come in single axis (front to back adjustment and 2 axis where a left right adjustment is also possible.  Prices range for under $100 to $600 plus.
  10. Diopters or Close-up filters – This is one of the least expensive method of doing close-up photography. These filters attach to the front of your lens allowing you to focus closer hence magnifying your subject.  They are available in single and dual elect construction.  I recommend the dual element as you will have better optics. Prices range from $30 and up.
  11. Extension tubes – If you like macro these will allow your lenses to focus closer to the subject. As they have no optical elements in there is no image quality degradation. Kenko extension tubes are what I have and love. They come in a set of 12mm, 20mm and 36mm.  For the newer mirrorless cameras the tubes are in sets of two at 10mm and 16mm
  12. McClamp The Clamp – This clamps to a tripod leg and can hold such items as gray cards and 12″ reflectors, and small delicate subjects in place. It has a 26″ flexible arm with a spring-loaded clamp to hold your subject in place.  Wimberly also makes a similar device and have a new version called the Plamp II.  Both products are about $45.
  13. Light Tent or Cube – A great light modifier for your product photography, food photography and macro work. These come in various sizes and cost $40 and up.
  14. Triflip (Trigrip) 6 in 1 or 8 in 1 reflector/diffuser – The TriGrip from Lastolite has a triangular shape with a built-in handle that allows easy hand holding or for attaching to a stand.The TriGrip is 30″ at its widest point and collapses storage.  I prefer this to the typical round diffuser reflector kits.

    A few for those who dabble with video:

  15. LED Light Panels – these come in various sizes – remember to get one that is disable and has the intensity you need for your kind of video shooting.
  16. Variable ND filter – for those bright days when you need to slow your shutter down and keep your aperture wide.
  17. Shotgun microphone – DSLRs are great at capturing video.  The audio on the other hand really is pathetic.  The minute in-built microphones are really bad. So get a good starter microphone. A shotgun mounts on the hot-shoe and connects to the mic input port of the camera. My choices for a starter microphone is the Rhode Video Mic Pro with the Dead Cat for around $210

Please use the comment link on the top of this post to share with us some of your special items.

If you do plan on getting any of these items please use my affiliate links on the right column of this blog post or use the Products and Discounts Page for additional links. 

Also posted in Accessories, Educational, Lighting, Mirrorless, News, Photography, Time-Lapse, Tips

Nissin i40 – an exceptional pocketable flash

Nissin i40 for MFT

Nissin i40 for MFT

I had been anxiously waiting for the two evaluation units to arrive and finally they arrived two days ago, December 15, 2014. The small Nissin i40 is made for Canon, Nikon, Micro Four Thirds, Sony and Fuji cameras. With a current street price of $269 this is a very affordable unit.

In the box is the flash head, a stand with a metal 1/4 20 thread for mounting on a light stand or other device, a diffuser, and a quick start instruction manual.  A nice belt mountable pouch for carrying the unit is provided and they include a carabiner so you can attach the pouch to any belt, strap or camera bag loops and rings. A spare set of AA batteries fits nicely in the diffuser so you can carry enough reserve power in one convenient pouch.

The i40 weighs 7 oz and fully extended is under 3 1/2 inches. The unit is powered by 4 AA batteries and unlike the larger Nissin flashes this does not have a cartridge system for the batteries. With a guide number of 40 or at ISO 100 of 131′ at 105 mm and 89′ at 35 mm position, the unit is suitable for most photographers who like to carry a handy flash for fill as well as indoor photography needs.Nissin 140

Continue reading »

Also posted in Accessories, High Key, Lighting, Macro, Photography Tagged , , , , , , |