Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pocketwizards AC5 Offer in Canada

In previous post I wrote PW support to complain about Canadians not being offered the free AC5 RF filter. Well I received the following email today:


I understand your frustration. The AC5 promotion is now being offered by our Canadian distributor. The online signup form to participate in the Canadian AC5 promotion will be ready by noon Eastern Standard Time on Monday, November 2. The Canadian AC5 promotion will last until January 31st, 2010. Please check our News page for updates:

If you have further questions, please reply to this email and keep the case number in the subject line.

Zachary Gauthier
PocketWizard Technical Support Specialist

Looks like PW will come through for it's users in the Great White North also... Thank You!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pocket Wizard AC5

Pocket Wizard announced yesterday that they will provide their AC5 RF shield free to US customers! Where does that leave their Canadian customers? As per their site "Customers in other markets will need to contact their local distributor for information on the AC5 in their market" Why the double standard, we suffer the exact same RF problems as our American cousins? I wrote PW's customer support, hope to hear a satisfactory answer soon.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Strobist in Toronto

Like thousands of other photographers around the world I've been following David Hobby's "Strobist" blog trying learn about photographic lighting. The Strobist site is all about using small speedlight flash units as effective light sources. Small flash units can be used on location or in a studio to provide you with a professional looking lighting setup and this site has hundreds of articles to show you how. An instructional DVD series the "Strobist lighting seminar" can also be obtained which shows these lighting techniques in practice.

The first step to improve your flash photography, is getting the flash off your SLR's hotshoe, often referred to as Off Camera Flash (OCF) to do this you must:

  • Sync the flash unit(s) to your camera's shutter (PC cord/Remote trigger).
  • Provide a way to position your OCF in the three dimensional space around your subject (Light stands, Clamps or Brackets).
  • Often you'll want to modify your light source to make it softer etc.. (Umbrella or Light boxes).
  • You may also want to direct to or restrict your light from an area in your photograph (Snoots, Grids and Gobos).
David explains all of these techniques and multiple ways to accomplish the above tasks, often with a cheap solution to replace an expensive accessory that is being sold. After watching the training seminars and reading the articles, I started looking around Toronto for some of the equipment that was recommended. I soon found that the major camera shops do not carry some of the items, so here is a list of less known places that do:

  • Light Stand: Manfrotto Nano 001 light weight sturdy stand that folds up to 18 inches. ( carried as the 5001B Nano $79)
  • Rosco filter sample kit: used to color correct or changed the color of your flash output. ( Free)
  • Coroplast: black plastic like cardboard used to create homemade grids. ( $4.25 for 24"x32" sheet sold under the name Plasticor)
  • Botero #23 collapsible background: 5'x7' light grey background. (couldn't find this locally Vistek carries similar but expensive Lastolite products, you can order the Botero from B&H in New York $63 USD).
  • Sync Cords and Flash accessories: cables and such that are required to sync the flash to your camera shutter. (not local either but a super cheap source with amazing customer service
  • Sweet and Sour Soup container: used instead of Stophen or Garry Fong diffuser. (Sorry I don't eat Chinese you're on your own)
Hope this small list helps you track down some of these Strobist recommended items here in the GTA.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)

TIFF was very busy this year and required a lot of scrambling between the different venues. I noticed a lot of overlap between major galas some nights, where other nights were completely dead? Some movies also had premiers at two separate theaters on the same night, requiring the stars to rush to the second gala. Not sure why the schedule was so screwed up this year.

The Roy Thompson Hall venue was setup differently this year. The red carpet was moved to the west side of the building from it's previous Simcoe street location. The new location had it's benefits, you were closer to the talent when they exited their limo and the crowds could be controlled better. However the length and direction of the red carpet reduced access, especially if the stars were running late.

I managed to photograph a lot of new stars this year, there were a few repeat guests like George Clooney and Ewan McGregor who stared in "The Men Who Stare at Goats". They were excellent with the fans showing up almost an hour early and signed autographs for 45 minutes. Some of the television reporters were upset that George didn't spend a lot of time doing interviews, since he spent so much time with the crowd. And Ewan who didn't stay for the film walked off by himself without security, freaking out the organizers who called for someone to escort him back to his SUV.

Some of the highlights from this year, watching a young women at Drew Barrymore's directorial debut "Whip It" holding a sigh saying "Never been kissed by Drew". Drew made her night when she planted one bang on the lips, and none of us got a single image. Since the paparazzi had been moved to a new location that night further down the carpet, they too missed the moment. Spending time again with Viggo Mortensen provided a few laughs too. I asked him why he wasn't wearing his Montreal Canadiens button that someone gave him last year? He said "I now have pedant on a necklace". Moments later a fan supplied him with a Canadiens flag that he proudly waved , even when he pulled away in his SUV after his movie he was holding it out the window, a true fan!

Other moments included watching the Paps get off their ladders and down on their knees
to photograph Verne 'Mini Me' Troyer. I though Danny Devito was small but this guy was really tiny. A late night with the ladies from 'Bitch Slap' especially Zoe Bell who is a stunt women now making it as an actress was a lot of fun. Zoe who played Uma Thurman's double in the Kill Bill movies was very pretty in person and very friendly too, love that great New Zealand accent! If you want to see a great movie profiling Zoe watch "Double Dare" which shows her trying to make it in Hollywood after her gig on Xena runs out.

Like every year there were a few photographic surprises, shots that turned out better
than one could have planned, they stand out when you review your daily images. This image of Diablo Cody really shined for me, the lighting is perfect considering you can only use on camera flash. Here someone else provided me with nice side lighting when our flashes sync'd.

The Fest was a lot of fun, had a great time with the friends that I've made over the years, and made a few new friends with some people that shared the same section of barrier . For more images from this year's TIFF check out the Gallery on my web site