Playboy Centerfold Nikki DuPlessis – Miss April Revealed

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We had the recent pleasure of having our stunning images of Nikki grace the pages of Playboy South Africa – April 2014 Edition! If you missed seeing those images here’s a small sample of some that we shot (some that made it and some that didn’t) for this pictorial plus some behind the scenes from the shoot!  Enjoy!

Nikki Du Plessis - Playboy South Africa Nikki Du Plessis - Playboy South Africa Nikki Du Plessis - Playboy South Africa Nikki Du Plessis - Playboy South Africa Nikki Du Plessis - Playboy South Africa Nikki Du Plessis - Playboy South Africa Nikki Du Plessis - Playboy South Africa Nikki Du Plessis - Playboy South Africa nikki-du-plessis-south-african-playboy-model-0267

Our lovely and talented make up artist, France working her magic on set!

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Fitness Photography Fort Lauderdale – Susana & Jeromy

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Recently we had the pleasure of photographing Susana and Jeromy at our new studio right after the NPC Southeast Classic held this month in Fort Lauderdale.  Susana placed First Overall in Women’s Physique and you can see her hard work paid off!

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PLAYBOY South Africa – April PLAYMATE OF THE MONTH – Nikki DuPlessis

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Danny Steyn Photography is proud to announce that South African Model Nikki Du Plessis was chosen as Playboy South Africa Playmate of the Month – Miss April 2014!  We are so happy for Nikki and so thilled to have been part of her journey that landed her pictorial in Playboy, the most prestigious of all men’s glamour magazines!

playboy-nikki-d-photography_oTo see more of Danny’s photos of Nikki in her hot pictorial, visit Playboy South Africa.

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To see more of Danny Steyn’s images of Nikki Du Plessis from earlier glamour photography shoots, check out Nikki’s model page amongst our world famous Danny’s Angels

 

Great Product Photography Sells!

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Our motto is “Compromise Elsewhere”!  If you are looking to sell your product on the open market these days you need to be ahead of your competition. And one of those ways is with making your product look the best it can be.  Time after time we have had clients come to us after they have tried shooting their own images and after they get the finished product from us, they call to let us know that the images are doing the sales for them!  So stop wasting you time and come to the best!.

Call us today at the studio to discuss your product photography needs, big or small!

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Professional Model Portfolio Photography – Fort Lauderdale

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So you think you have what it takes to become the next big thing in the modeling industry? First you will need to hire a professional photographer that is skilled in bringing out the best in you. You can rest assured that at Danny Steyn Photography we will get the images needed to get you recognized in this competetive industry! We will help you get started building the best model portfolio possible for your grand entrance into the modeling world!

Call us today to book a model portfolio session at very resonable rates – 954-351-8884!

The session below was shot entirely in Fort Lauderdale at various parks, including the stunning Bonnet House Musuem and Gardens!  The lovely Samantha was pure joy to shoot with!
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Kids Modeling Portfolios – Jaxson – Fort Lauderdale

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Jaxson came to us recently to help him get started in the world of kids modeling! What a cutie! He’s very photogenic and high energy. We think he’ll go far if he puts in the hard work that is needed to make it in the industry!

If you would like to get your child started modeling, come to us for the best professional photographs that are essential to kick start their career!  Call us at 954-351-8884 today!

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Goofing for the camera! kids-model-portfolio-photography-0007

Hypersync test #7 – Nikon D3x / Alien Bees / Pocket Wizards – Hypersync Testing with Playboy Model Alexandria

You can read my previous hypersync testing results here:- Hypersync Test 1Hypersync Test 2Hypersync Test 3Hypersync Test 4 (Diana), Hypersync Test 5, Hypersync Test 6 (Emilee)

This test with Alexandria was a complete departure from my previous tests which had been conducted to establish that I that I could comfortably shoot at 1/2,000th of a second at 100 ISO and F2.8 in bright outdoor light with my Nikon D3, Alien Bees and Pocket Wizard transceivers. And I had established that I could shoot all the way up to 1/8,000th of a second with minimal cropping to the frame.

With that knowledge I wanted to try something completely different. I have played with freezing liquids in a studio setting using the fast flash duration of speedlights to freeze the liquid, but I wanted to see if I could use fast shutterspeed to freeze the liquid outdoors in bright sun, but overpowering the sun with studio strobes.

Freezing Liquids Outdoors Concept

You may ask, why do I want to freeze water outdoors in a bright setting?

Well, when you freeze liquids in a studio setting you are typically shooting against a dark background (typically black) and backlighting the liquid with the speedlights. There is generally no color in the liquid. For instance, frozen water looks like a lovely mass of molten acrylic, shiny, sparkly and totally clear with the back studio backdrop showing through the liquid. And of course when shooting opaque liquids like milk you end up with a frozen white liquid with droplets.

And the uniformity of color and background makes Photoshop work so simple that creation of composite “liquid dresses” whether they be water or milk, are relatively easy to shoot and composite in various ways.

But if you shoot outdoors in a bright colorful location, the clear water will refract all the colors of the background into the frozen mass, essentially creating a molten multicolored acrylic canvas, as you can see. And with the detail and color contained in the water, you really need to capture the full image in the camera, as it will be a total pain to build up a composite image in Photoshop.

Hypersync, Nikon D3, 1600 ISO, 1/4,000th sec, F8. Bright sunlight, Four Alien Bees 640WS flashes, using Pocket Wizard transceivers

Hypersync, Nikon D3, 1600 ISO, 1/4,000th sec, F8. Bright sunlight, Four Alien Bees 640WS flashes, using Pocket Wizard transceivers

Practice makes perfect

I have tried freezing water outside in bright sun with hypersync several times in the past all with less than perfect results. My main issue is that I always shoot glamour at around F2.8 to F4.0 with long lenses in order to have the sharp model pop off the blurred background. But when you throw water in front of or behind the model, now you need depth of field otherwise the water splashes will be out of focus, essentially destroying the intended effect (as seen in the image below with two water streams separated in by approximately 4 feet).

Hypersync, Nikon D3, 800 ISO, 1/4,000th sec, F5.6. Bright sunlight, Four Alien Bees 640WS flashes, using Pocket Wizard transceivers

Hypersync, Nikon D3, 800 ISO, 1/4,000th sec, F5.6. Bright sunlight, Four Alien Bees 640WS flashes, using Pocket Wizard transceivers

So now this means you need to have a smaller aperture to create a larger depth of field to have both the model and the water in focus. Or you can shoot with a short lens, and have the entire scene in focus, something that I almost never do in glamour.

So during this shoot I was totally out of my comfort zone.

Also, shooting at smaller apertures with hypersync adds another wrinkle. When you shoot with hypersync you are not getting the full flash illumination that you would normally get at the standard camera flash sync speeds. You are getting the tail of the flash, very often a small fraction of the rated flash power of the head. And when shooting with hypersync, not only is the aperture affecting the flash illumination, but the shutterspeed now also has a linear relationship with the flash illumination. The faster the shutterspeed the less flash illumination provided.

Hypersync Settings – Nikon D3, 4 x Alien Bees 640WS at full power, Pocket Wizards

So, in trying to freeze water outside with flash, not only do I have to go to a smaller aperture, but I also have to shoot at a shutterspeed of somewhere around 1/4,000th to 1/8,000th of a second, both variables killing the already reduced flash power available. This only leaves ISO, so once again I am forced out of my comfort zone and I am forced with the flash power I have available to shoot at way higher ISO’s than I ever do in my glamour work. For this test I ended up shooting at around 1,000 to 1,600 ISO, and of course deal with the associated noise/grain.

The Shoot

I also had an idea to incorporate an assortment of balloons in the water to add excitement and add more specular highlights so we all spent an age inflating, tying off and weighting down 50 odd balloons, and trying to get them to cooperate. Unfortunately the translucency of the balloons meant that flash power the perfectly exposed the model completely blew out the highlights in the balloons, so that idea never really worked.

The gorgeous Playboy model Alexandria Kingsbury graciously collaborated with me on this project and I was ably assisted by two Art Institute students Brian and Lazaro. I tried all aperture, shutterspeed and ISO combinations, along with a host of lighting approaches, using scrims, modifiers, barn-doors and flags and finally nailed down something that worked. And of course there were hundreds upon hundreds of buckets of water tossed in front, behind and on top of our lovely model, all trying to nail that one defining shot that I had visualized in my mind. Of course, converting the visual idea into a finished product was way more difficult than I had imagined and as far as I am concerned the defining shot never materialized.

Hypersync, Nikon D3, 1250 ISO, 1/5,000th sec, F8. Bright sunlight, Four Alien Bees 640WS flashes, using Pocket Wizard transceivers. Model Alexandria Kingsbury

Hypersync, Nikon D3, 1250 ISO, 1/5,000th sec, F8. Bright sunlight, Four Alien Bees 640WS flashes, using Pocket Wizard transceivers. Model Alexandria Kingsbury

Hypersync, Nikon D3, 1250 ISO, 1/5,000th sec, F6.3. Bright sunlight, Four Alien Bees 640WS flashes, using Pocket Wizard transceivers. Model Alexandria Kingsbury

Hypersync, Nikon D3, 1250 ISO, 1/5,000th sec, F6.3. Bright sunlight, Four Alien Bees 640WS flashes, using Pocket Wizard transceivers. Model Alexandria Kingsbury

Hypersync, Nikon D3, 1250 ISO, 1/6,400th sec, F8. Bright sunlight, Four Alien Bees 640WS flashes, using Pocket Wizard transceivers. Model Alexandria Kingsbury

Hypersync, Nikon D3, 1250 ISO, 1/6,400th sec, F8. Bright sunlight, Four Alien Bees 640WS flashes, using Pocket Wizard transceivers. Model Alexandria Kingsbury

Once again Hypersync allowed me to do something that would not be possible using HSS or standard flash sync speed, and I am pretty encouraged with the results. However, Hypersync once again proved to be problematic by not being consistent throughout the shoot. This further reinforces me experience that the technology is great for personal work but is not reliable enough for me to use with my commercial clients.

Hypersync test #6 – Nikon D3x / Alien Bees / Pocket Wizards – Hypersync Testing with Emilee

You can read my previous hypersync testing results here:- Hypersync Test 1Hypersync Test 2Hypersync Test 3Hypersync Test 4, Hypersync Test 5

In my previous testing I made the comment……. “Well Hypersync works for me ….. sort of!”

I felt that it was too unstable to be relied upon under pressure, but I suspected that part of it might be me, so this time round I took way more care to make copious notes during my testing to figure out what was causing the instability.

This time I had the benefit of working with a personal friend and model Emilee, who has worked with me many times before and is used to the stop-start process that goes along with trying out a new technique

As mentioned before in my previous posts regarding hypersync, my main objective was to be able to use wide open apertures around F2.8 in bright sunlight, and to use flash to fill the shadows and possibly overpower the sun. Shooting at wide open apertures with long lenses provides the shallow depth of field that makes the model pop off the blurred background. But shooting at the maximum sync speed allowed by the camera, typically around 1/250th, in bright sunlight means that you have to stop the aperture down around f8 and this unfortunately brings the background into focus.

So we started with an ambient exposure of 100 ISO, F2.8 and shutterspeeds initially in the range of 1/,1000th to 1/2,000th of a second. I shot with my Nikon D3x, Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 transmitter fitted with the Pocket Wizard AC3 zone controller to separately adjust the power of each flash head. I used one, two and three 640WS Alien Bees moonlights, powered by Vagabond batteries. On each Alien Bees flash was a Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 transceiver each set to a different group, and mounted to each of the TT5’s was a Pocket Wizard AC9 Alien Bees Adapter. The main light was fitted with the 18” Omni reflector to create more punch, and the rim lights when used were fitted with the standard 7” reflectors and 30 degree grids to kill the spill back to the camera.

In order to try and develop a repeatable lighting approach, I systematically measured the model to flash distance for each shot and kept copious notes of flash power and camera settings, so I would be able to replicate it in future. I mainly shot with the 70-200mm f2.8 lens but also used my 200-400mm F4 lens which narrows the depth of field even more when shooting at longer focal lengths.

During this test I was able to obtain better lighting consistency from shot to shot, so I suspect that part of my frustration in earlier shoots was merely a lack of familiarity. However there still remained some instability, particularly in adjusting the light output, but overall I was very encouraged by the results. Hope you like them too.

Hypersync testing with Emilee in bright sunlight - 1/2,000th second, f2.8, 100 ISO, Nikon D3x Alien Bees, Pocket Wizard

Hypersync testing with Emilee in bright sunlight – 1/2,000th second, f2.8, 100 ISO, Nikon D3x Alien Bees, Pocket Wizard

Hypersync testing with Emilee in bright sunlight - 1/2,000th second, f2.8, 100 ISO, Nikon D3x Alien Bees, Pocket Wizard

Hypersync testing with Emilee in bright sunlight – 1/2,000th second, f2.8, 100 ISO, Nikon D3x Alien Bees, Pocket Wizard

Hypersync testing with Emilee in bright sunlight - 1/800th second, f2.8, 100 ISO, Nikon D3x Alien Bees, Pocket Wizard

Hypersync testing with Emilee in bright sunlight – 1/800th second, f2.8, 100 ISO, Nikon D3x Alien Bees, Pocket Wizard

Hypersync testing with Emilee in bright sunlight - 1/1,250th second, f2.8, 100 ISO, Nikon D3x Alien Bees, Pocket Wizard

Hypersync testing with Emilee in bright sunlight – 1/1,250th second, f2.8, 100 ISO, Nikon D3x Alien Bees, Pocket Wizard

Hypersync testing with Emilee in bright sunlight - 1/500th second, f4.0, 100 ISO, Nikon D3x Alien Bees, Pocket Wizard - Nikon 200mm - 400mm f4

Hypersync testing with Emilee in bright sunlight – 1/500th second, f4.0, 100 ISO, Nikon D3x Alien Bees, Pocket Wizard – Nikon 200mm – 400mm f4

Click here to see my next Hypersync test using the Nikon D3x, Alien Bees, Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and  Flex TT5, featuring stunning Playboy model Alexandria

Hypersync test #5 – Nikon D3x / Alien Bees / Pocket Wizards – testing the effect of shutterspeed on flash exposure

You can read my previous hypersync testing results here:- Hypersync Test 1, Hypersync Test 2, Hypersync Test 3, Hypersync Test 4

Hypersync – Constant ISO, Aperture, Flash Power and Distance, yet varying the Shutterspeed

From my previous tests I wanted to confirm my previous observation of the effect of shutterspeed on the flash exposure, something that does not happen in traditional flash photography using shutterspeeds at or below the camera’s advertised sync speed.

So with a constant ISO of 100, aperture constant at F2.8, flashes at constant power and flash to model distance kept constant, I shot my model at shutterspeeds ranging from 1/1,000th to 1/8,000th of a second in one stop increments. As you can see from the image below the relationship with flash exposure is inverse and linear. Double the shutterspeed, and all other variables kept constant, the flash exposure, as well as the ambient exposure (obviously) drops by one stop.

As a sidebar, the reason for adding the palm leaves in the foreground was to have something at the edge of the frame that would be hit by the flash so I could see how far the dreaded shutter curtain banding was intruding into the image. And you can see the flash banding start to intrude onto the palm leaves on the right hand side of each image, especially noticeable at 1/4,000th and 1/8,000th shutterspeeds.

Hypersync test #5 - Nikon D3x / Alien Bees / Pocket Wizards - testing the effect of shutterspeed on flash exposure

Hypersync test #5 – Nikon D3x / Alien Bees / Pocket Wizards – testing the effect of shutterspeed on flash exposure

Hypersync – Constant ISO and Aperture, increasing Flash Power with increase in Shutterspeed

So I did another experiment to confirm it, but this time, each time I increased the shutterspeed, I increased the flash power by one stop. And as you can see in the image below, while the ambient exposure decreased linearly at 1 stop increments, the flash exposure remained constant.

Hypersync - Constant ISO and Aperture, increasing Flash Power with increase in Shutterspeed

Hypersync – Constant ISO and Aperture, increasing Flash Power with increase in Shutterspeed

So this further confirms that the flash exposure is affected in exactly the same manner as the ambient exposure …. An increase in shutterspeed above the advertised sync speed will affect the flash exposure at the same rate as it affects the ambient exposure.

And of course the banding is now way more visible with the extra flash illumination. For my use, the banding is not negatively affecting the image at shutterspeeds up to 1/2,000th but as I get above that I will need to pay attention to how I frame the image if I have any objects that will receive flash illumination in the foreground. As long as I frame the image to allow for the banding I will be able to shoot with flash all the way up to 1/8,000th of a second.

Cool – now I understand it better and kind of know what I want to do next!

Click here to see my next Hypersync test featuring the lovely model Emilee using the Nikon D3x, Alien Bees, Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5

Hypersync Nikon D3x Alien Bees Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 transmitter, Flex TT5 transceiver, AC3 Zone Controller, AC9 Alien Bees Adapter – TEST # 4

Well Hypersync works for me ….. well sort of!

As mentioned before in my previous blog posts regarding hypersync, my main objective was to be able to use wide open apertures around F2.8 in bright sunlight, and use flash to fill the shadows. Shooting at wide open apertures with long lenses provides the shallow depth of field that makes the model “pop” off the blurred background. But shooting at the maximum sync speed allowed by the camera, typically around 1/250th of a second, in bright sunlight, means that you have to stop the aperture down to around f8 and this unfortunately brings the background back into focus.

You can see my previous hypersync testing approach here

So after collating my previous test data I continued my testing, this time using a live model, the adorable Latvian model Diana, who was a total pleasure to shoot with and who was patient as I experimented with various settings and lighting combinations.

Determining the ambient exposure for optimum background saturation

We shot outdoors at our pool, and I started with a simple exposure test at 100 ISO and F2.8 and the shutterspeed needed to get the background saturation I wanted was 1/2,000th of a second seen in the image below.

Ambient light exposure testing for the Hypersync test - 12,000th sec, F2.8 at 100 ISO

Ambient light exposure testing for the Hypersync test – 12,000th sec, F2.8 at 100 ISO

Hypersync testing with Nikon D3x and up to 3 Alien Bees 640WS flash heads in bright sunlight

So while the sun was out, most of my shooting was done with shutter speeds in the range of 1/1,600 – 1/3,200th second. Later on a storm cloud darkened the sky and the ambient light dropped around 4 stops so I had to slow down the shutterspeed so as not to completely underexpose the background.

I started off using the Alien Bees at full power as in my earlier testing this had yielded the best results. With all three flash heads connected I found the system quite unreliable, and it was quite a process of un-plugging, re-plugging all the connections to try and get all three units to sync and fire at full power. And most bizarely, the lower shutter release on my Nikon D3x would not allow the three units to sync at all, I had to use the upper shutter release which is a pain when shooting portrait format.

With the 3 heads at full power there was a lot of flash-to-model distance adjustment going on and it definitely killed the flow. And of course I had to allow several seconds between each shot to allow the Alien Bees to fully recharge from each full power discharge. I ended up shooting way fewer images in the 3-hour shoot than I would have in my normal glamour shooting mode. This can be a good thing and a bad thing, sometimes you see something happening in the viewfinder that you just have to capture, but the flashes have not recharged, so as I say it can be a buzz kill on a shoot with a model who moves well from pose to pose.

The images below show shutter-speeds ranging from as slow as 1/1,000th all the way up to 1/2,500th of a second. I did shoot images at 1/4,000th and at 1/8,000th of a second, but the fall-off in flash illumination is dramatic, and of course the background ends up way too dark and loses the saturation and interest that I wanted to capture.

Hypersync testing - 1/2,000th second f2.8 100ISO - Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 - Two heads full power

Hypersync testing – 1/2,000th second f2.8 100ISO – Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 – Two heads full power

Hypersync testing - 1/2,000th second f2.8 100ISO - Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 - Two heads full power

Hypersync testing – 1/2,000th second f2.8 100ISO – Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 – Two heads full power

Hypersync testing - 1/2,500th second f2.8 100ISO - Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 - Two heads full power

Hypersync testing – 1/2,500th second f2.8 100ISO – Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 – Two heads full power

Hypersync testing - 1/1,600th second f2.8 100ISO - Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 - Two heads full power

Hypersync testing – 1/1,600th second f2.8 100ISO – Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 – Two heads full power

Hypersync testing - 1/1,250th second f2.8 100ISO - Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 - Three heads full power

Hypersync testing – 1/1,250th second f2.8 100ISO – Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 – Three heads full power

Hypersync testing - 1/2,000th second f2.8 100ISO - Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 - Two heads full power

Hypersync testing – 1/2,000th second f2.8 100ISO – Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 – Two heads full power

Hypersync testing - 1/1,600th second f2.8 100ISO - Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 - Two heads full power

Hypersync testing – 1/1,600th second f2.8 100ISO – Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 – Two heads full power

Hypersync testing - 1/1,000th second f2.8 100ISO - Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 - Two heads full power

Hypersync testing – 1/1,000th second f2.8 100ISO – Nikon D3X Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 / AC3, FlexTT5 / AC9 – Two heads full power

 

Hypersync Testing Summary to date.

I am sure you noticed the “well, sort of…” comment in my opening line. Yes, Pocket Wizards’ Hypersync functionality definitely allowed me to shoot at shutter speeds up to 4 stops faster than the maximum camera flash sync speed without any noticeable banding. And overall I am thrilled not only with the results in my limited testing to date, but I am more excited about the possibilities to brings to our studio and our customers.

However throughout the four tests I have conducted to date, the Pocket Wizard hypersync system proved to be pretty unstable, and would give widely differing results image to image. And this occurred in all four tests conducted to date. Apparently I am not the only one experiencing this phenomenon according to my reading.

Mounted on the hotshoe of my Nikon D3x I had the Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 transmitter with the AC3 Zone Controller to adjust the flash power. On the Alien Bees I had the Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 transceivers with the AC9 Alien Bees Adapter, and I had a dummy plug inserted into the sync socket to ensure that the Flashes were not firing in slave mode. All batteries were fresh and I was powering the Alien Bees direct from the mains.

I also experimented with the AC3 controller adjusting the flash outputs. This did not go well and the output was not consistent across all the flash units despite multiple corrections, plugging and unplugging. I have no idea what was causing the instability. Something that will require some more experimenting.

At this point I am not comfortable using hypersync on a commercial shoot as it is too unreliable. But I am very excited with its potential and I am hoping that I can get the system stable enough to trust it in image-critical situations.

Maybe some other shooters can comment on their own observations………..

Click here to view my next Hypersync test utilizing Nikon D3x, Alien Bees, and Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 and the wonderful model Diana

 

Hypersync Nikon D3x Alien Bees Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 transmitter, Flex TT5 transceiver, AC3 Zone Controller, AC9 Alien Bees Adapter – TEST # 3

Back to more testing trying to get to terms with Hypersync. For a long-time shooter like myself there is a lot to unlearn and relearn with this technology. For my entire pro shooting career I always relied on the simple fact that shutterspeed has no influence on the flash component of an exposure as the flash duration was always shorter than the shutter opening.

So when shooting outdoors using flash to balance the ambient light, this meant you could set your flash-to-model distance and power level and then chase the ambient light with the shutter, slowing down or speeding up as the clouds moving overhead would change the ambient light level. And when shooting models in front of sunrises and sunsets, the same would hold true. Keep the flash-to-model distance and power constant, hold the same aperture and chase the changing lighting conditions with your shutter speed.

Well, all of this worked really well when using flash with shutter speeds equal to or slower than the camera’s sync speed.

Now with the advent of HSS and Hypersync we are tricking the camera and getting the flash to sync at shutter speeds well above the camera’s advertised sync speeds.

We know that shutterspeed will affect the ambient light exposure, but with these elevated shutter speeds, the shutterspeed is now also affecting the flash illumination on the model as well, something entirely new  in my shooting experience, and it is a new aspect to shooting that I have to understand and relearn.

So this round of trials is to try and understand how much the shutterspeed will affect the flash component of the exposure.

Once again I started shooting in late afternoon in full sunlight. The equipment setup is as follows

  • Nikon D3x with Nikon 70-200mm f2.8
  • Trigger is the Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 with the AC3 Zone Controller
  • Receiver is the Pocket Wizard TT5 with the AC9 Alien Bees Adapter
  • Alien Bees 640WS flash heads, all bare heads with standard reflector, no modifiers

My previous tests with Hypersync and the Alien Bees illustrated that very useable full frame flash exposure is possible up to 1/1250th of a second with this setup. I say “full frame” as with shutter speeds above 1/1,250th  there was a slightly noticeable intrusion  of the inevitable shutter curtain shadow banding that crept into the frame more as the shutter speed increased, making the one edge of the frame unusable.

However if you fully understand the position of the banding and are prepared to compose your image accordingly it is possible to get decent images all the way up to 1/8000th of a second, but the flash exposure is being diminished several stops by the fast shutterspeed.

Ambient Light Testing

As before, I established the desired ambient light exposure set the ISO at a constant 100, kept the Aperture at a constant F2.8 and varied the shutterspeed. Unfortunately a large cloud moved over the set as I did this so the exposures recorded are about 2 stops less than full sunlight, but the images nevertheless clearly illustrate the effect of increasing the shutterspeed on the ambient light exposure.

Ambient lighting testing prior to the Hypersync testing with Nikon D3X, Alien Bees 640WS monolight, Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 transmitter with AC3 Zone controller, Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 Transceiver and AC9 Alien Bees Adapter

Ambient lighting testing prior to the Hypersync testing with Nikon D3X, Alien Bees 640WS monolight, Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 transmitter with AC3 Zone controller, Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 Transceiver and AC9 Alien Bees Adapter

Single Alien Bees Main Light FULL Power

Next I put a single bare head Alien Bee 640WS light approx. 8ft from the model, slightly off-center of the camera position, on the same side as the ambient light. I did the test with the Alien Bees at full power keeping the aperture constant at F2.8 and the ISO constant at 100. Starting from 1/500th second I increased the aperture for each image, allowing the flash time to fully recharge from the full discharge each exposure. I took the shutterspeed all the way up to 1/8,000th as I wanted to see how far the shutter shadow banding intruded into the full frame with the camera in the vertical portrait position (all my previous tests were in the landscape format)

As you can see from the images, the banding only becomes noticeable at around 1/2,000th sec, and only intrudes about 10% of the frame at 1/8,000th sec. The image is fully useable without any cropping all the way up to 1/2,000th sec, but this was not the goal of the test.

What we can see is that increasing shutterspeed from 1/500th to 1/1,000th reduces both the ambient and the flash exposure by 1 stop, and there is a similar correlation from 1/1,000th to 1/2000th , from 1/2,000th to 1/4,000th and from 1/4,000th to 1/8,000th.

So many photographers have reported widely diverging results with hypersync depending on the equipment used, so while the flash exposure appears to have a linear relationship with shutterspeed, I am hesitant to just accept this.

Hypersync testing with Nikon D3X, single Alien Bees 640WS monolight at full power, ISO 100 F2.8 and varying the shutter speed. Testing to see how shutterspeed affects the flash exposure outdoors

Hypersync testing with Nikon D3X, single Alien Bees 640WS monolight at full power, ISO 100 F2.8 and varying the shutter speed. Testing to see how shutterspeed affects the flash exposure outdoors

Single Alien Bees Main Light HALF Power

I did the same test again with the Alien Bees at ½ power (controlled from the AC3 control) and the same relationship appeared to hold true but there was not enough flash illumination to make the images at the higher shutterspeed useable.

Three Alien Bees – One Main Light , Two Rim Lights, all FULL Power

This time I added two additional Alien Bees as rim lights about 10ft from the model. Because of my findings in the previous tests I limited the shutterspeed to 1/2,000th of a second. Once again the relationship of shutterspeed to flash illumination appears to be linear.

Basically, with this setup it appears that if you double the shutterspeed you will decrease the flash illumination by one stop, which ultimately means that when you end up with an underexposed subject, you will need to shorten the flash to model distance, or add additional flash units to maintain the shutterspeed.

Hypersync testing with Nikon D3X, three Alien Bees 640WS monolights all at full power, One main light, two rim lights all bare bulb. ISO 100 F2.8 and varying the shutter speed. Testing to see how shutterspeed affects the flash exposure outdoors

Hypersync testing with Nikon D3X, three Alien Bees 640WS monolights all at full power, One main light, two rim lights all bare bulb. ISO 100 F2.8 and varying the shutter speed. Testing to see how shutterspeed affects the flash exposure outdoors

But as you can see the results are very promising, and obviously more testing is needed prior to relying on this technique in a commercial shoot. And knowing how the banding will affect your image will allow you to use really fast shutterspeeds, as shown in this image shot at 1/4,000th second, 5 full stops faster than the maximum camera sync speed.

Hypersync testing with Nikon D3X, three Alien Bees 640WS monolights all at full power, One main light, two rim lights all bare bulb. ISO 100 F2.8 1/4000th second shutter speed. Banding is noticeable on full frame image on left but minimal cropping reveals a perfectly exposed image

Hypersync testing with Nikon D3X, three Alien Bees 640WS monolights all at full power, One main light, two rim lights all bare bulb. ISO 100 F2.8 1/4000th second shutter speed. Banding is noticeable on full frame image on left but minimal cropping reveals a perfectly exposed image

The next test will be with a live model using elevated shutter speeds, and getting comfortable with the affect of shutterspeed on flash exposure

 

Click here to see my next Hypersync test utilizing Nikon D3x, Alien Bees and Pocket Wizard TT1 / TT5.