nikon with flash transmitter

Gravel Worlds Photo shoot

In Blog by Eric Benjamin2 Comments

I’m headed up to Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the Cornhuskers and more importantly – The Gravel World Championships better known as Gravel Worlds, a 150ish mile gravel road race with nonstop rolling hills. Seriously, the hills are relentless in Nebraska. Here’s last year’s writeup mentioning Kristi Mohn, dead mice and butt butter.

This year I will not be riding, instead I will be doing what I do best, photography. I am pretty stoked as I will be trying something new, that if it works out I will expand. Here is the rough setup.

multiple flash setup

After a few boxes arrived at my house, I set up these speedlights on a dual flash bracket with new, off-brand flash poppers. After scouring the internet, I stumbled on the Pixel King flash poppers that will allow a photographer to trigger a flash from a pretty good distance and more importantly they work with the high speed flash sync setting. What that means is that I will be able to shoot at 1/1600 of a second or up to 1/8000 of a second and still use my flashes! Why would I want to do this?

This setup will give me a high speed fill flash that will give the subjects in the images a little more “pop” with color and contrast. This will freeze the action and allow me to light up the riders on a sunny day. My plan is to underexpose the shot just a tad and have the riders pop off the page. Why two speedlights? Double the power. One is not enough in the bright sun and two may be a little weak. But If this works I will use four, yes four should do it. Why not just a big studio strobe? One word – portability. I can go unplugged, powered by AA batteries, anywhere. I like to keep things as simple as possible.

Here’s a look at the Kings.

pixel king flash receivers

I have wanted some flash poppers for awhile (since I used to shoot weddings) but they aren’t cheap. These guys were only $175 for one transmitter and two receivers. And they have much capability. They can syn with all of Nikon’s auto features like auto zoom and ttl along with high speed sync and focus assist. They can also be used with multiple banks of lights having different power levels. I will be using them with a light meter and in manual mode. It’s the best way to control the lighting situation and get what I want. I am hoping the two flashes will be enough to see if I like this system. They also make them for Canon cameras and strobes too.

Here’s the transmitter on the Nikon D300

nikon with flash transmitter

Yes, that’s a Star Wars droid on top of the transmitter and yes, he’s missing an arm thanks to Mikey.

To make things more exciting I rented this bad boy too

It’s a Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 AFS zoom. I have some cheaper zooms, but I rented this because it is tack sharp, super fast focusing and will stop down to 2.8. That means I can have a shallow depth of field with my subject in sharp focus. When I shot the DK200 with a cheaper zoom, I was less than excited with the lack of sharpness and the ugly bokeh (they way out of focus things look, to keep it simple) from the lenses I own. So I rented this from Honestly I think I will be shooting more wide shots, but I wanted to bring this to use when I needed it.

I will give you a full report on all this gear in the next couple of posts. Don’t go out and buy the Pixel Kings until I recommend them. I want to make sure they are dependable and do what they claim they will. But if you do want the 70-200mm lens go get it. It does rock and at over $2K it should.

So needless to say, I am stoked. I need to pack up and head out.

On another note, I must apologize for the lack of posting as of late. Work has been busy and with this amount of soul searching (open heart surgery at 40 will do that to you) and lack of big rides, I have been at a loss for good material.

The good news is things are good, my outlook on life is quite positive and things are getting ready to pop – more than just flashes. Attitude is everything people. I always knew that, but it took that damn surgery to make it real, like life and death real to me. I’m hard headed what can I say? One thing I am accepting and coming into is that photography is what I do. I have been shooting pro since 1990 and I still enjoy it. No I don’t enjoy it, I love it, obsess over it and know a lot about it – the whole process from equipment to final product. I need to own that ability and knowledge. Own it without fear.

Don’t worry cyclists, I also have a bicycle fetish, but I want, I need to dive headlong without fear or reservations into my love of photography. I do believe it’s what I am supposed to do. Funny thing, I couldn’t ride the DK200 this year so I shot pictures instead. I didn’t have anything in mind for them, just figured I would shoot it for fun and let the DK200 team use them for publicity. To my surprise they landed in three magazines, one bike company is using them for advertising a new bike they are releasing in 2013, and several websites used them too. Hmm, maybe there is something there. I’ll write about it later, but the wall that has kept me held back from my true calling is made with many mental blocks that aren’t even real, they are just in my own mind.

Anyway, I am off to the Land of Lincoln to shoot a sweet gravel race.

Feed Your Monkey!

Oh and go HERE to sign up for next months Flint Hills Photocycling Tour! We will be spending a lot more time on photography and the long ride will be about 30 miles, so everyone can do it this time!