Photographers are an interesting bunch… We chase dreams, covet light, and are always in search of the next amazing piece of gear that we just can’t live without. A couple of months ago I was introduced to the Sunbounce line of light modifiers, specifically the Sunbounce Micro-Mini and the Bounce-Wall; both of which are now staples of my ever growing list of lighting tools. While I’m constantly looking for ways to make shaping light easier, faster, and better, I don’t know that it gets much better than the Sunbounce approach to reflectors. The Micro-Mini, Mini, Pro, and Big are some of the sturdiest, easiest to use that I’ve found; and when it comes to on camera flash modification, there is no better system or option than the bounce wall. If you’re an event photographer that is “running and gunning” at events (where there aren’t always walls or ceilings to bounce off of) the bounce wall is a godsend. If you’re a wedding photographer shooting reception photos, often times in dark halls with little to no bounce options you can’t go wrong with this system either. It gives you a constant, reliable source of bounce light no matter what your surroundings or what your subject. No matter what style of photography you do, if you need to reflect, bounce, or diffuse, Sunbounce has you covered.
When I got my Sunbounce Micromini in the mail the first thing I noticed was the relative lightweight of it. For a reflector that is 2X3 feet wide and can withstand even the strongest of wind gusts, it’s very lightweight and not bothersome to carry all day long. It’s made of a lightweight aluminum frame that stretches the reflective material taught from side to side, end to end. It’s not quite as light as a traditional reflector but it is BY FAR the strongest, most robust reflector that I’ve ever used. Being made from a rigid aluminum frame, the Sunbounce Micromini will hold up in windy situations that would collapse traditional reflectors. As a professional, the piece of mind knowing that this won’t fail at the worst possible moment is huge to me! The reflective material comes in all of the traditional reflector colors; black, white, silver, gold, silver “zebra”, gold “zebra” etc. Just about anything that you could want. The cross bar is sturdy and easy to hold with one hand or two and can be easily positioned vertically or horizontally. Setup takes about a minute but the first time that assembled it, it took a little longer. They ship directions with it and you’ll want to use them the first time you assemble it. After that, you should be able to set the reflector up in a minute or less. I know what you’re thinking “a whole minute?! My other reflectors just spring to shape in 5 seconds”. This is true, it does take slightly longer to setup the Sunbounce than a traditional reflector, but that extra time is a good trade off for the extra rigity.
Another area that these reflectors shine is versatility. From hand held, to lightstand mounted (as shown above) the Sunbounce can be positioned in many, many different locations and angles. I used a “Justin clamp” to position it in the above setup but a super clamp would work just as well if not better. Add in a super arm, or friction arm and the mounting possibilities are endless! Whether hand held, or lightstand mounted this reflector rocks! In an attempt to help users of small flash, or speed lights out they also added an optional flash bracket to allow photographers to use he Micromini as a source of bounce light. Attaching to the frame via a clamp the arm is extendable to 45cm to get proper distance between the light source and the reflective material. The flash bracket is the perfect accessory to the reflector kit.
When it comes to event photography “run and gun” is the name of the game. Don’t confuse this with “spray and pray”. Run and gun means that you have to be light on your feet and very mobile. You usually don’t have the luxury of setting up lights, using big modifiers, or controlling the environment. As such, many event photographers rely on ceilings, walls, or some other source to bounce their light off of. They try to position themselves with the largest amount of bounce area around them that they can and go with it. Unfortunately there isn’t always a bounce source available. The other plaguing issue for event photographers is color. Sometimes you find a white wall or ceiling, but most of the time they have some sort of color to them. This is terrible for photographers because this means that our bounce light will take on the color of that wall or ceiling and give the subject a tint. Seeing a need Sunbounce decided “wouldn’t it be nice if you could create your own bounce surface, with the color temperature that you want”, and the Sunbounce Bounce-Wall was born. The bounce reflector itself is made of a plastic material coated in color corrected reflective material. Just like the Micromini the colors range from silver, white, gold, “zebra” and more! The frame of the Bounce-Wall is made of a hard composite material that is adjustable for the correct angle and light direction. The traditional angle of 45degrees and above is easily achieved almost every time with this reflector. The light source for the Bounce-Wall is any on camera TTL flash with a head that can be angled and turned. The bracket is not model specific so it is compatible with almost any brand of DSLR. While I’m not a huge event photographer (maybe 2-3 a year) I do a TON of weddings (34+ a year) and the Bounce-Wall is perfect for receptions because for all intents and purposes receptions are exactly the same thing shooting wise as events. So if you’re a wedding photographer, event photographer, or if you just plain like having every available option in your lighting arsenal, you should add a bounce wall to your lighting bag!
When it comes to my photo shoots, I usually have a time constraint whether it’s the client’s schedule, the wedding timeline, or some other unforeseen issue. I can’t afford to be wasting time with sub-par quality products and I certainly can’t spend my time worrying whether or not my products are going to fail on me. Sunbounce has, with the Bounce-Wall and the Sunbounce line of reflectors taken away the stresses of product quality, and made it easy for me to find a bounce source when there isn’t one already. The reflectors are top quality and the build is second to none. If you haven’t already done so, check out the Sunbounce line of products. I’m certain that they have something that fits your lighting style and needs.
I do a lot of fashion and beauty photography and more often than not the subjects I photograph are women. I was intrigued by the title of this book: “Photographing Women: 1,000 Poses”. I figured it would be a good book to have around to get inspiration and to show a model various poses that I would like them to do. However, the book turned out to be much more than that. What I didn’t expect to find was a couple of very good chapters proceeding the poses that talked about shooting angles and lighting. I was immediately sucked in by not only the concepts but also the great job in providing the visuals. Eliot Siegel did a great job in not only talking about angles, but also showing an example of each one and how it impacts the way your subject looks. Once I got past the great info in the beginning of the book I was quite pleased with the 1,000 poses too. Great color photos showing and explaining the poses.
I initially bought this book as a Kindle book to read on my iPad, but I liked it so much that I bought a hard cover copy to have in green room of my studio. If you photograph women, you definitely want this book!
You can order your copy here.
In this episode of the Adobe Creative Suite Podcast Terry White How To Get Started With Lightroom 4 – 10 Things Beginners Want To Know How To Do.
Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?
See more of my Adobe Creative Suite Videos on my Adobe Creative Suite Podcast and get the App here. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:
photo compliments of iStockphoto.com
It’s that time of year again. My annual “So what’d you get?” I’ve been reviewing my favorite gadgets, services and photo gear all year long. Now it’s your turn! Tell us what you got this holiday season (tech wise) that you’re excited about or even tell us what you gave if you were acting as Santa? Use the comments section below. Tell us what it is, why you like it and provide links if you can? Did you get or give anything from my holiday gadget gift guide?
Hey! If you got an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch as a gift, check out 10 Must Have Apps here.
I just wanted to take a moment to not only wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season, but also to thank you for all your support and encouragement throughout the year! Looking forward to a great 2013!
May all your tech holiday wishes come true!
You forgot _______________. It happens. That relative or friend walks through the door that you totally forgot to get a gift for and you feel bad. Yep, it happens. Personally, I wouldn’t sweat it. However, for those of you who do (you know who you are) here are a couple of things you can do to save the day.
First off it may not be too late to give an I.O.U.! Be sure to check out my Holiday Gadget Gift Guide here. Let them know it’s on the way and just won’t arrive in time. I’d be happy with a cool gift that’s coming!
iTunes Printable Gift Certificates
When you go to hang up their coat, head to your computer and fire up iTunes. Then go to the iTunes Store and buy a “Printable” gift certificate. You can print it (quietly) on your printer, fold it and stick it in one of those emergency cards that you keep around. Oh yeah, you forgot those too. OK, a handwritten envelope will do. You can then explain to them that with this they can download music, books, movies, apps and more. Whew!
Amazon Printable Gift Certificates
OK, so the person that just walked in is not into digital entertainment. I get it! No problem. Head over to Amazon.com (here’s the link to get you directly to the gift certificates. This way you won’t be out of the room any longer than you have to be) and buy a gift certificate and print it out. Now they can go order whatever they want since Amazon sells just about everything.
Lastly pride yourself on avoiding the mall 🙂
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and get back to your guests 🙂
50% Off Apple Care & Free Software (up to a $59.99 value) on All Macs
MacBook Pro 15.4″ Core i7 2.4GHz $300 INSTANT SAVINGS
Macbook Pro 15.4″ Retina Display <-The configuration that I use
MacBook Air 13″ <-The configuration that I use
Lowest prices on Mac minis
Apple TV 1080p $94.99
Apple Thunderbolt Cable $44.99
Apple Magic Trackpad $59.99
Apple Wireless Keyboard $62.24
Apple Magic Mouse $64.46
Apple AirPort Express Base Station <-the new one $96.99
See their full line of Apple Products Here.
I’ve been a fan of shooting wirelessly to my iPad since the early days when I got my Nikon D7000 using an Eye-Fi Pro X2 card. After that I configured my Nikon D4 and WT-5a module to shoot either wirelessly to my MacBook Pro or my iPad and now that I have a Nikon D600 (and loving it!) I was interested in seeing how the new Nikon WU-1b module works. The idea in all of these scenarios is to use the iPad or iPhone for review of what I’m shooting with my DSLR and sharing with email or social media of quick event photos.
The Nikon WU-1b is a narrowly focused solution
With the Eye-Fi and WT-5a module for the D4 you can wirelessly transmit your photos to a variety of Apps. However, the WU-1b seems to be narrowly focused by Nikon to shooting wirelessly to your iPhone or Android Smartphone. They provide a Free App (Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility) for both platforms (see my review of the iPhone version here). Once you download the App it’s pretty easy to get started. Just plug in the module into your D600’s USB port and turn your camera on. The WU-1b will start broadcasting its own WiFi hotspot. Connect to that hotspot via your smartphone and launch the App. Once you’re in the App you can either set it to wirelessly fire the shutter (with Live View on your smartphone) of your D600 and then transmit the image to your smartphone or you can switch the App to the mode that allows you to shoot normally with the camera and the images will be transferred to your smartphone as you take them. Whether you shoot in RAW or JPG the module will send JPGs to your smartphone. I normally shoot RAW to the 1st card and Basic JPG to the 2nd card (my Eye-Fi) card. When I’m in this RAW+JPG mode the WU-1b seems to send the smaller basic JPG. However, when I’m in just RAW mode it sends a larger full-sized JPG and of course that takes a lot longer. Speaking of time, the smaller JPG (about 500kb) takes about 5 seconds to show up on my iPhone. The larger JPG (about 1.6-2MB) takes about 10-15 seconds to show up on my iPhone.
It works as advertised, but…
While the WU-1b works as intended it really falls short in the review department. Unlike other tethering solutions you don’t actually see the images as they come in to their App. Instead you see a progress bar and once the images are there you tap to review them. Also while the camera settings are displayed, there is no way to change them in the App. Look at this is merely a transfer utility and remote shutter. Also there is no native iPad support. Yes the app works on an iPad, but in the smaller phone size.
Shuttersnitch saves the day AGAIN!
Shuttersnitch is the App I use for All my wireless tethering to iPad needs. It works with the Eye-Fi cards and it works with the Nikon WT-5a module. The good news is that it also works with the WU-1b module. Unlike the bear bones Nikon Utility, Shuttersnitch gives you a great way to review your images as you take them, star rate them, geotag them and share them via email, social media and cloud storage such as Dropbox or any FTP/WebDAV location. It’s a professional App! I remembered that a recent update of the App mentioned support of the WU-1b module and sure nuff it works great! I had to simply turn on support for the module in the settings and just start shooting. The images came in as usual.
Shuttersnitch for iPhone and iPad
The Bottom Line
For the price, there’s really no reason not to get the WU-1b module if you have a Nikon D600. It provides a pretty painless way to get images from your Nikon D600 wirelessly to your smartphone and it can work anywhere since it creates its own ad-hoc network. Add the Shuttersnitch App and you’ll be even happier with it. Oh yeah, one more thing: Nikon can you please explain why the Nikon WT-5a (for the Nikon D4) costs $500 more than the WU-1b (for the Nikon D600)? Is there really $500 more technology in the WT-5a? I’m thinking not! Yes I see the price is coming down on it from the outrageous $877 that I originally paid, but really? c-mon!