Pain Relief courtesy of PocketWizard

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: June 30, 2011

Category: General

Now before every shoot I’m quite meticulous about meeting up with the client a few times to discuss exactly what they’re looking for and will scout out suitable locations however, that wasn’t to be the case for a recent Family Photo Shoot…

You see this particular shoot came in as a matter of urgency with a tight deadline, and not only that there was a time limit on the shoot itself i.e. 1 hour which included meeting the guys for the first time and location scouting! So the pressure was on but to add to this, out of the 4 guys I was shooting, one was in a serious amount of discomfort with his Wisdom Teeth and another had developed a stiff neck.

So…what to do???

Regular readers of this blog will know that when it comes to using ‘off camera’ flash I’m a Manual Shooter all the way…period! It’s how I prefer to shoot because of the consistency in exposure it gives me from shot to shot which in turn means working faster, so you would expect that seeing as I was on a tight time schedule and 2 of the 4 guys I was shooting were in a considerable amount of pain, that I’d stick to what I know, right?

Well I kind of did by using a single Nikon SB800 and 60″ Shoot-Thru Umbrella but for some strange reason decided to give the PocketWizard Flex and Mini’s [Link] a run in TTL…what could possibly go wrong???

Well nothing it would seem! You see the PocketWizards worked flawlessly with no misfires and despite a few variances in exposure which were very quickly corrected using the AC3 Zone Controller, the guys’ pain and suffering was kept to a minimum…in more ways than one 🙂

Talking of the AC3 Zone Controller [Link] I’d be really interested to hear from any of you folks that have one with regards to how you are mainly using it…TTL or Manual? Before I got hold of a unit I was using the new PocketWizard Mini and Flex units in combination with the Nikon SU800 [Link] which worked really well but I know from previous comments here on the blog and through forums, that some people have experienced strange behaviours with it…how about you?

Nothing ground breaking here when it comes to lighting…just keeping it really simply with a single Nikon SB800 and 60″ Shoot-Thru Umbrella…

With regards to the future I’m definitely going to be making more use of the PocketWizard AC3 Zone Controller simply because of the speed the whole set up allows me to work at but one thing that won’t change is working in Manual Mode. You see despite the advances in technology with TTL etc, I still prefer working in Manual because I know that 100% of the time I’m going to be getting consistent exposures from shot to shot.

Enjoy 🙂

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  1. Jim

    Isn’t the AC3 just the bee’s knees?

    I tend to stick to manual as well, just for the level of control. But honestly the ‘A’ mode is just as controllable; one little turn of the dial and you over-ride the TTL settings up or down. What you do have to think of is that this is going to make another light (or group of lights) fire differently as well.

    In your example above, of course, this makes absolutely no difference.

    Good Light,


  2. DaveT

    Nice set of images Glyn.

    The manual flash settings make sense – I’ll have to try that and get out of my comfort zone of purely using TTL. I’m curious to know, do you also use a flash meter to assess the amount of flash to use?

  3. Tim Skipper

    I wish you could say the same thing about those Pocket Wizards on Canon.

  4. Scot Baston

    Hi Glyn,

    Yet another great post! I have to say thank you for putting on to the AC3, it is an absolute godsend!

    You ask whether we use in TTL or in manual mode and I can honestly say I use both… Not just TTL OR Manual but both at the same time. For example if I want to blow out the background I’d have group C on Manual and then use group(s) A(+B) in TTL. This allows me to think about lighting the subject and not worrying that the TTL is affecting my background light.

    The great thing about the AC3 is that if you change your mind mid way through a shoot you can change between TTL or Manual on the fly, without ever leaving your camera.

    Thanks Glyn and catch up with you soon!


  5. Melissia Griffith

    Again, Thanks so much! Love it! Id like a lesson on the meter readings. 😉

  6. Dave

    Ever since I watched Damien Lovegroves Speedlight Mastery DVD (which I thoroughly recommend) I couldn’t wait for the PW Flex to come to Nikon. I use 2 SB900s on a Lovegrove Gemini double flash bracket which gives a little extra power and reduces recycling time. I shoot manual on camera and TTL on the flash. It gets great exposure 90% of the time and a quick spin of a wheel on the AC3 corrects any difference in opinion between the TTL and me.

  7. Keith Hammond

    nice set of pictures mate, just shows you what can be done in a short time with minimal equipment.
    Perhapse you “putting people at ease” karma has spread to healing powers now 😉
    Can’t comment on AC3 as still using those old fashioned Plus 11″s, but i can sense a self treat coming on soon.

  8. Paul Hodgson

    Hi Glyn

    The PW’s are indeed excellent though I can’t seem to get the consistency right so still prefer manual.

    Anyway, curious where you got your 60″ brolly from as I’m having a devil of a time finding a stockist.

    Have a great day.


  9. Glyn

    Thanks for the comments folks. The PW’s are real good to use..small, light and darned reliable but that aside, I do still prefer to use them in Manual…old habits I guess but it’s the consistency from shot to shot that really appeals 🙂

    Thanks again, Glyn 🙂

  10. Glyn

    @Paul…I get my 60″ brollies from Calumet UK but ‘in store’ .. can’t find them on the website.

    Hope that helps 😉

  11. Simon Jacobs

    My PW’s are far more consistent after the recent firmware update, they tend to work first time a lot better now. The AC3 is great although the build is not great. I find it quite funny that it has taken PW to give Canon users the functionality the Nikon folks have had for ages!
    I use Manual and TTL about 70/30 sometimes both within the same set up. Depends on the situation really, both work very well sometimes the TTL will astound and at other times it will dumbfound. As long as you can roll with it!
    I have a few issues. The hotshoe connection is not the godsend we all thought it would be. I always bemoaned the cord connection of the Plus ll’s (I had locking cords in the end) but the hotshoe connection is VERY weak one. When on a tilted angle I have found that the strobe can ‘slip’ forward out of the shoe connection, even tho’ there is a lock. I have found myself having to keep checking that this has not happened when I get a non-firing gun. Much like the old cords!
    The other is that the size of the Flex TT5 pushed the gun well up into an umbrella. OK when you’re using a 60″ but if it’s smaller you end up shooting through the top of the brolly. I have taken to Justin Clamping guns to a stand to get them a little more central. I am looking for a kind of ‘side bracket’ umbrella shoe if anyones seen one… Same thing with some dedicated small flash softboxes, gun and Flex just about fit. Oh, and I hate that battery in the Mini TT1!! 🙂
    Having said all that, the set up with the AC3 is still pretty cool.


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