Wireless Radio Triggers; What No Studio Or Location Photographer Should Be Without Page 2
Some Remote Scenarios
Professional sports photographers and parents photographing high school events can attach a camera, using a Bogen Super Clamp, over a hoop, above a field, in the end zone, almost anywhere, to create images from places they can't always be (imagine sitting in the bleachers and triggering your camera every time your team moves in to make a goal). Other sports photographers shooting mountain biking and skiing have been known to set up wireless triggers on a series of cameras, one set at the end of a runway in front of the athlete, two or three along the route of travel, and trigger each camera as the action unfolds.
Wildlife photographers often find themselves in a position where it is too dangerous to be near the camera, for example, photographing grizzlies. In the case of grizzlies, you would create a trap focus area by suspending your assistant, in a bag full of ripe cantaloupes, from a tree branch, just high enough so the bear would have to jump to reach it. You would then manually set your camera to focus just below the "bait" and wait in your Hummer for the bear to arrive and photograph it as it leaps upward. (Editor's Note: No assistants were harmed during the writing of this article.)
In my own case, I have been photographing hummingbirds for years and never been thrilled with the results. As with any subject, there are problems to be solved. The first is that the feeder has to be raised up high so that the hummingbirds will feel safe enough to use it (especially since I have five cats). That means either building a blind 8 ft off the ground and using a long lens, or getting used to photographing the bird's belly with the sky as your only background. And if you do have a blind far enough away not to frighten the birds, you will need to have a flash that will throw light that far for accent or fill. While this is possible (a Quantum Qflash will do the trick), it will take too long to recycle and hummingbirds don't wait.
I decided to try creating a focus trap using two MicroSync Digital transmitters and receivers, a Canon EOS 5D with a 24-70mm lens, and a White Lightning monolight. In order to relay-sync the camera and a remote flash, two complete transmitter/receiver sets are required--one transmitter on the camera and one in your hand as a trigger. One of the transmitters is set to Channel 1; the other to Channel 2. The camera also requires a receiver and motor drive cable and the flash requires a receiver as well. Additional lights would not require transmitters, only one receiver for each.
I began by hanging a hummingbird feeder from an Avenger Century-stand (C-stand) and leaving it for a day so the birds would become used to it. Behind the feeder I placed a dark brown muslin backdrop from Backdrop Outlet that I normally use in my studio. On the second day I set the camera on another C-stand with the lens aimed just to the right of the feeder. Because the MicroSync has auto power on/off I didn't have to worry about running down the battery while I sat at a comfortable distance and sipped iced tea.
For my second test I wanted to try using a PocketWizard PLUS II wireless trigger in a conventional studio setting. The editor of Shutterbug suggested I do a self-portrait to demonstrate remote triggering of the camera, which I thought was a great idea. I also thought it would be more interesting to include a professional model, Rochelle Ikeda (Model Mayhem, #166421).
I placed the Canon 5D with a PLUS II on a C-stand high and above me, carefully composed the image and stopped down to f/14 for depth of field. For the key light I placed a Photoflex Medium HalfDome2 at camera left. In the doorway I placed a
bare-bulb White Lightning monolight to illuminate the left side (camera right) of Ikeda's face and to spill light on me. By placing the bare bulb inside the door, the PLUS II was behind a wall and not in line-of-sight.
The setup required four PLUS II transceivers, one on the camera, one each on the lights and the trigger. I set the PLUS II on relay firing and triggered the camera remotely. This is a classic situation in which a radio transmitter is invaluable. The camera is out of my reach (even if I wasn't modeling for the image), and at least one light can't be fired wirelessly by any other means (a cable would have to be run through the door to fire the strobe without the transmitter). By using the wireless transmitter I could compose and focus, then assume my position in the scene and trigger everything from behind the wall.
For further information, contact the companies by mail or online from the Contact List provided. As I said, I couldn't conceive of working without wireless triggers; give them a shot and I think you'll agree.
Brand Specific WRTs
There are some wireless radio transmitters dedicated to specific brands of lights, such as the White Lightning RadioRemote One. These link up with advanced features built into the light units to work with the remote trigger. Other examples of this would be the Quantum FW7Q, designed to work with the Quantum Qflash, and the Elinchrom EL-Skyport RX Transceiver, which works exclusively with Elinchrom RX-series lights. Using dedicated units of this kind will greatly increase the versatility of the wireless trigger, providing additional light control features. Both the EL-Skyport RX and the FW7Q are able to trigger cameras as well as lights--the RadioRemote One is for triggering White Lightning lights only.
Most wireless triggers come in sets that include a transmitter and a receiver. The receiver connects to the flash via a sync cord, household plug, or mono plug. The two PocketWizards, PLUS II and MultiMAX, the Bowens Pulsar, and the Calumet LiteLink come as transceivers, that is, the same unit will both send and receive. While it is more convenient to use a transceiver the downside is that most photographers want the least expensive units they can buy. While they often only need one transmitter the price of additional receivers is nearly always less than buying additional transceivers.
Bowens Pulsar (Bowens USA, PO Box 310, West Hyannisport, MA 02672; (508) 862-9274; www.bowensusa.com.)
Calumet LiteLink (Calumet Photographic, 900 W. Bliss St., Chicago, IL 60622; (800) 225-8638, (312) 944-2680; www.calumetphoto.com.)
Elinchrom EL-Skyport Universal (Bogen Imaging Inc., 565 E. Crescent Ave., Ramsey, NJ 07446; (201) 818-9500; www.bogenimaging.us.)
4-Channel Wireless Radio Trigger (The Morris Company, 1205 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60607; (312) 421-5739; www.themorriscompany.com.)
MicroSync Digital (Tamrac, Inc., 9240 Jordan Ave., Chatsworth, CA 91311; (800) 662-0717; www.microsyncdigital.com.)
Paul C. Buff Radio Flash Trigger One (Paul C. Buff, Inc., 2725 Bransford Ave., Nashville, TN 37204; (800) 443-5542;
PocketWizard PLUS II and MultiMAX (MAC Group, 8 Westchester Plaza, Elmsford, NY 10523; (914) 347-3300; www.pocketwizard.com.)
Quantum FreeXwire (Quantum Instruments, Inc., 10 Commerce Dr., Hauppauge, NY 11788; (631) 656-7400; www.qtm.com.)