International Dwarf Fashion Show

It was Tokyo Fashion Week recently, and coinciding with this the non-profit International Dwarf Fashion Show held their (I believe) first Tokyo show. I was lucky enough to be included in the photographers covering this event.

Not being an event photographer, it was a bit hard for me, and during some important moments I didn’t really shine. It was fun though. More photos and info on my work blog here:





Light on a stick

A few months back I was shooting a client in the Ginza district of Tokyo at night. I was basically relying on the bright and crazily coloured neon lights to provide my lighting – giving a funky, modern, fast paced big city feel to everything.

Then I found a really good location, but it was too far away from the bright neon lights I had been relying on. Stumped, I gave up on that spot. But it did cause me to recall something…

Ages ago I saw Zack Arias* in a video using a speed light mounted on a short stick with an umbrella as the modifier. I think he called it ‘light on a stick.’ Finally got around to knocking one up today. Here’s one test shot. Three more tests with it on my work blog here.


* this is not the original video I saw. Can’t find that one now. In this one he calls it a travelling light

Wide and Shallow – the so-called Brenizer Method

The Brenizer Method is simply taking a grid of photos of a reasonably close portrait subject with a long or longish focal length and wide open (or close to it), and then stitching them together to make a single final portrait image.

What it gives you is an image that looks wide or wide-ish and still has a shallow depth of field. Usually it has a depth of field more shallow than you would expect for that lens and format. It is a great way to mimic medium or large format results.

It was popularised in recent times by the work of Ryan Brenizer, hence the name. It is also known as panoramic stitching, bokeh panorama and bokehrama. The actual technique or idea has been around for ages – since 1843 according to the Wikipedia entry.

Anyway, I’ve been playing with it for a while now. Here’s two recent-ish shots. With both more and less attention to fixing up the background oddness that can result. In fact, I often like the surreal weirdness that can occur after the stitching.


D lumberjack_Panorama1-Edit

Chichibu Line – Into The Wilds V

More from a now no longer recent train riding day trip into the Chichibu highlands / interior. These four from Nagatoro Station and surrounds.

_DSF4853 _DSF4855 _DSF4857 _DSF4863 All X100s in Advanced Filter Toy Mode, via Capture One Pro and Lightroom (but minimal – like just a little exposure and contrast)


Godox V850 Ving Flash / Godox XT16 Remote Transmitter & XTR16(s) Receiver Review

I’m not going to spend too much time on describing things like functions and build quality. Instead I want to give an overview of my impressions and stress one point in particular.

The manual version V850 and V850II do all the standard manual speedlite things. The Canon, Nikon and Sony dedicated V860 units do Canon, Nikon and Sony specific fancy stuff that I don’t care about. You might though, so head here to Flash Havoc to get the lowdown.

These units seem to be built with about the same degree of robustness as other brands I’m familiar with or have handled. They feel maybe not quite as solid or tough as the similar products from Lumopro, but that may just be the impression that the more militaristic / ballistic / full of little angels Lumopro design elements give. Admittedly I tend to be quite careful with my gear, but I have had no trouble nor any concerns with these flash units in terms of their durability. Godox V850_XT16_XTR16s 1b

It is sometimes held that cheaper and / or smaller lighting units, such as speedlite / hotshot flashes in general, are not quite as colour consistent or output consistent on a per unit basis as more sophisticated and more expensive lighting solutions.* Sometimes, it is claimed, they can vary quite a lot during a session or even from one firing to the next. I lack both the equipment and the inclination to test such things, but Flash Havoc and others have noted that the V850 / V860 series speedlites are comparable to similar products from other top end manufacturers. The same also seems to hold true for other parameters, such as evenness of spread and falloff, etc. The original Flash Havoc review deals with these points quite thoroughly and reports very favourably here.

All of the above is just a long winded way of saying I’m totally happy with performance, have had no issues with performance in any way at all and I’m not aware of any major current issues either. Some reviews and commentators note that as Godox rolls things out quite quickly in an ever evolving kind of manner, there are occasionally a few glitches with early production units for new lines of products, etc. They also note these problems are usually resolved fairly quickly. There have been hardware issues in the past, for example, with batteries, but as far as I know, everything is fine as of right now. Mac users do have to jump through a few hoops for software updates however.

Currently, Godox version II models, including the V850II / V860II, have built in 2.4 GHz radio receivers. For older V850 / V860 series speedlites, you can add the plug-in XTR16s 2.4 GHz receiver** and use a corresponding transmitter – XT16 / XT32 / X1T.*** I have the plain Jane manual XT16 to fire my XTR16s equipped V850 flashes. Um, works fine.

It’s essentially intuitive. You just make sure the little channel slider switches on each XTR16(s) and the XT16 transmitter are all set to the same pattern and are thus all on the same frequency (doesn’t really matter which channel you use, but if you are at an event with other photographers or picking up interference for some other reason, then you can move to a different channel). Then, each flash’s XTR16(s) gets set to a letter or number on its dial. If two or more flashes are set to the same letter/number they from a group and will be adjusted together. As the name implies, you can have up to 16 groups. Then on the XT16 transmitter, you select the number on its dial that corresponds with the flash or group you want to control, and use the + / – arrow buttons to change the power settings in ⅓ steps for that flash or group of flashes. Looks confusing, but really it is easy. For the version II speedlites and the XT32 / X1T LCD screen equipped transmitters, you essentially do the same (& a lot more for the TTL versions) on screen.

So, that brings me to the important bit, or at least, the bit I feel is important: the battery.

Currently and as far as I’m aware, the latest and the legacy models of the V850 / V860 range are the only speedlites / hotshot flashes to use propriety single unit rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries. As Flash Havoc notes, the VB18 battery provides “a massive 650 full power pops!” The full power recycle time is impressive too, at 1.5 seconds.

Most speedlites / hotshot flashes are powered by 4 AA sized batteries. The single 2000mAh, 11.1V battery gives the equivalent of 12 AA batteries. Again as Flash Havoc notes, not only is this like having an external power pack actually built in to the flash, it is also a huge cost saving, as you get a charger and the equivalent of 12 AA rechargeable batteries included in the already low cost.

How long does the battery power the flash for in the real world? Bloody forever, that’s how long. The last portrait session I did at my home studio, I was running a butterflied soft box setup with one powered by a V850 and the other by a Lumopro LP180. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the exact details now, but both flashes were set the same, at around ½ power. By the time I went through two sets of good quality and freshly charged Eneloop batteries in the Lumopro (i.e. 8 batteries worth), the battery level indicator was still showing two out of three bars on the V850!

The batteries also seem to hold their charge really well. At one stage I pulled a V850 that I hadn’t used for around a month out from the bottom of my bag and it was still showing a full change and preformed just as long as a recently charged one.

When I got my first V850 I was just testing the waters, so didn’t get a spare battery at the time. Glad I didn’t, as I’ve never ever run out of juice, and for my typical needs, I doubt I ever will. Maybe for others who cover long time periods, like wedding or event photographers, spare sets might be advisable. My typical portrait sessions run from around two to four hours, and the only time I’ve ended up working in the last bar of the indicator is when I’ve done two sessions with no recharge in between.

So, there we have it. Compatible output (as in, can be paired at same settings with other high quality brands). Comparable general performance and reliability with other similar class but much more expensive products. Outstanding, basically entry level price. Truly phenomenal battery performance. Built in radio control functionality. Expanding integration with other Godox products. Works.

Hope this was of some help.

* different people claim different things and the two common but contrasting views I’ve come across are a) that colour output is often or usually inconsistent in both cheap lighting solutions and speedlites / hotshot flashes in general, and b) that with lower power units like speedlites / hotshot flashes, this isn’t usually a problem. Me, I don’t actually know.

** for the earlier versions of the Wistro bare bulb flash units that lack the built in receiver, you use the plug-in XTR16 receiver (i.e. the model with no “s” in its name)

*** all the different options and possibilities are a bit of a mine field, and I’m trying to be brief here. The XT16 provides only manual power control, the XT32 provides only manual power control and additionally HSS for Canon / Nikon / Sony V860 units. For TTL with the V860 units you need the appropriate X1T versions and, if using a first generation V860, an X1R – i.e. receiver unit.

Godox Ving V850 / XT16 / XTR16(s) Review Preamble

Recently I added a Godox XT16 transmitter and some XTR16s receivers to my Godox  V850 Ving hotshot / speedlite manual flashes. Basically, I replaced my PocketWizard Plus Xs. Thought I’d write a little review.

I’m splitting this review into two, more manageable chunks, since I seem to be failing at brevity. _DSF7600-Edit-Edit

Godox, who may or may not also be Neewer and whose products are rebranded by Adorama (as Flashpoint) and others, is a Chinese manufacturer of relatively cheap but quite modern and fairly good quality lighting equipment.

Godox now have a really nice range of equipment, and some seem to feel this is where they are edging ahead of their competitors. In terms of light sources, as well as several series that meet the needs of mains powered high power studio photography and their portable, on site equivalents, and several series of lower / standard power speedlite  or hotshot flashes (i.e. basically what most other manufacturers offer), Godox also has the interesting Wistro series of medium powered flash units – basically, bare bulb hotshot flashes powered by battery packs.

Along with light units, Godox offers an extensive range of fairly cheap light modifiers. Keeping track of what is on offer and how various models differ is a bit of a headache however. Their website is not so logically laid out in terms of product listings and often items seem to be missing from these listings. Added to this, Goddox / Neewer light modifying products (and the sellers themselves) seem to come and go quite frequently on places like Amazon. I suspect that the modifier arm of the business might more closely reflect what we might term as the more flexible nature of supply / demand / manufacture that for many stereotypes modern Chinese production. I am a really big fan of the Cheetah QBox24 I should add, which seems to have been designed in conjunction with and to be manufactured by Godox, at least as far as I can tell.

Flash Havoc hints that Godox might be a good place to start for those first getting into lighting, as their various systems are largely cross compatible and play nicely together if / when you might want to expand – something that not all (any?) other reasonably priced manufacturers can claim.

Anyway, the somewhat oddly named Ving series is a range of speedlite / hotshot flash units that come in plain old manual (Ving 850 aka V850*), or as Canon, Nikon or Sony compatible Ving 860 units (aka V860) with all the associated TTL bits and bobs. The two links immediately above are for the original Flash Havoc reviews (which still apply for everything apart from remote functions). Newer, version II units have radio receivers built in (as do newer versions of many of the other Godox ranges of lighting units). Older versions, like mine, take a clip-on receiver unit. For the nitty gritty on the new V850II Ving, go here.

The Godox page for the V850II Ving is here.

Anyway, it is these V850 series speedlite flashes and remotely adjusting / triggering them that I will address in the next post.

Part two coming soon.

* technically, I think it might be “Godox V850 Ving,” etc. However, depending on whether you are looking at the website or an actual unit, it could also be “Godox Ving V850” etc.

Chichibu Line – Into The Wilds IV (warning – contains photo of peeing)

From a now no longer recent train riding day trip into the Chichibu highlands / interior. Nagatoro Station and surrounds.




_DSF4852 All X100s in Advanced Filter Toy Mode, via Capture One Pro and Lightroom (but minimal – like just a little exposure and contrast)