Speedlight And Gadget Conspericies, Etc

Ever feel like there's some sort of cloud that follows you around to rain on your parade? Possibly some secret conspiracy out to sabotage all of your attempts at making pictures? I know there's not – I've not gone completely around the bend but sometimes I think I'm about to. Today's topic batteries, speedlights and gadgets. I swear it will be the ruin of us of all. Especially me who is obviously targeted by a vast network of saboteurs seemingly everywhere, attempting to trip me up at every turn.

Remember I passed along the little tid-bit regarding the D600 silent mode and battery life when my battery died at the worst possible juncture? I of course was not in a position to just go grab a new one. This weekend the battery and gadget conspiracy didn't let up. This time it was far far worse. We had a crazy weekend at Atomic Canary:Baltimore. There were overlapping sessions going on all weekend, sometimes three at a time. Busy, busy, busy 'til 11pm. We ultimately needed to borrow another space from the landlord. That's great news when I have my Atomic Canary community hat on. I'll write up a summary of the weekend later this week over on the AC blog. Here's where the insidious nature of the battery-gadget industrial complex comes in to play…

Sunday a bunch of Pocket Wizard radio triggers decided to go dead all around the same time. I ran down to my car to grab my Costco army-sized pack of double-A's. What? where is it. I know I chucked it in the trunk weeks ago. The cabal obviously appropriated them for their own evil purposes. So… no more AA's, only two working Pocket Wizard radios. Frigging Great. Fast forward – some begging, borrowing, and other things we now have the PW's working and enough to allow the making of the pictures to continue for everyone else. Fantastic. Take note – there are no more AA's to be had at this point.

A parallel plot is unfolding at the same time. I had schemes set in order to play around with Mary for some idea generation, set ideas, etc for my upcoming Helmut Newton workshop. She had a session booked until 2pm Sunday. I figured we would chuck together a few quick ideas on the fly afterwards. No such luck, sorta. Another photographer's second model/subject had some sort of bad sushi thing going on and was a no-show. Of course I hooked Mary up with the paying photographer that had planned to work all day. Too bad by the time they were done it was dark and about to start snowing. Guess any of the window light stuff is off the table, delayed for another day. What the hell, let's head down to the more industrial corners of the Atomic Canary:Baltimore space to do a few setups.

Looking back on it now, I fully believe at this point the cabal engineered the sushi incident to rob me of any daylight and force me down the gadget road. After a quick and dirty styling session that consisted of nope, nope, nope, okay that will work for now, I grab my SB800, my camera, Mary, and head downstairs. You see where this is going right?

I made a whole dozen speedlight lit shots with the juice left in the batteries. Seems the previous weekend's speedlight workshop took it's toll. Even those shots were painful waiting for the recycle. But wait, there's more, prior to even making those dozen shots the damn thing wouldn't trigger using Nikon's CLS wireless from the D600's pop-up. What da hell… mess about for a bit twist, turn, muddle with positioning, the little eye is definitely seeing the IR from the pop-up. So I check the settings on the back. Hmmm, HMMMMMMM, WTF – channel four. I never ever, never ever, have ever set any speedlight at any point in my life to frigging channel four. Hence the evil conspirators – they're everywhere, stooping as low as switching my speedlight remote settings to random values.

Okay – I made my dozen shots with the speedlight. They worked out. I'll post some this week. Some of them might actually be considered good. Today I just wanted to relay this little debacle assuring all of you that you're not the only one to have things go badly. Things not work out as planned. I don't go bananas when this sort of thing happens. Of course I wanted to make other setups instead of shooting at ISO 3200-6400, f/1.4, with mixed florescent fixtures where I couldn't control direction or intensity. Obviously when the SB800 gave up the ghost I made due. A few of those worked out for my purposes as well. Tenacity is the key. Make what you can if you can't make what you planned. The other little tid-bit I wanted to share for those of you that use wireless built-in TTL triggering for your remote speedlights no matter if they are Nikon or Canon or whatever has to do with the shot at the top.

Remember I mentioned as an aside a few times that if you are using the pop-up flash as a wireless IR trigger, it will show up even with it turned OFF in terms of power settings? I have the opportunity now to show you just how much. Realizing when I turned the SB800 on that the ready light was not just instantly coming on I knew I couldn't shoot at small apertures or low ISO settings. Definitely not both. I started out at ISO 3200 and f/1.4. The shot at the top was prior to me figuring out the whole channel four thing. This is how much the built-in pop-up in commander mode shows up with those kind of aperture/ISO settings when set to off (as in double bars). Obviously it's less and less or more and more as you go up and down the ISO/aperture scale. Just thought it might interest you to see what I mean.

I ended up shooting at ISO 800 f/1.4 for the few shots I made to knock it down to imperceptible at 10-15 feet away. The shot at ISO 3200 at the top was 7 feet and 2 stops more sensitive. Just something to think about when using the built-in pop-up as a master trigger. Obviously the same things happen to different degrees using an external flash mounted on-top of the camera as a trigger if pointed forward. Closer, wider aperture, higher ISO will be more and more apparent.

More later, have to run off to a job. I swear some of the speedlight shots I made after this are not-bad.


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