The technology of boudoir lighting for location settings

speedlite boudoir, boudoir lighting,

Mixed lighting situation with 600EX-RT Canon Speedlite mounted inside ‘lamp’ behind the subject giving the look of a lit bulb. The ‘lamp’ is actually a vase with a lamp shade and speedlite only.  It isn’t even a real lamp.

Professional boudoir photographers with have their sessions either in studios or on location and will have lighting and modifier technologies and tools in place to properly light our boudoir sets.

Boudoir sets may be indoors or out.  They may use natural light, studio strobes, or small portable battery operated strobes called Speedlites (Speedlights is what Nikon calls them).

This particular boudoir photography set was shot on location in a luxury home in Greater Phoenix.  The challenge was getting my large powerful and versatile studio strobe units to play well with my smaller sized portable speedlite strobe units.  As seen on the image at right where a speedlite has been used to give the illusion of lamp lighting, small speedlites, in addition to portability, can be used in a number of uniquely creative ways to amp up a boudoir portrait.

In my case, I currently use radio controlled smart controllers and studio strobes made by Paul C. Buff and Speedlites made by Canon, as well as third party knock off speedlite flash units made by Yongnuo.

Gear Tested

What I wished to do is to be able to remotely control the power output of both my studio strobes and speedlites simultaneously, in a radio control mode.

Mission accomplished.

The problem trying to control both studio strobes and speedlites

There is a hot shoe mount on the camera where the strobe triggers mount.  There is only one mount, and I wished to control two different technologies via the one mount.

While this is an easy fix in software, the software is not available to the casual user.  There was no easy apparent solution.

The folks at Canon Professional Services were very helpful, though confirmed, both the 600EX-RT and the ST-E3-RT were incapable of working together when not mounted onto a smart camera, like the Canon 5D Mark III camera which is my main body.

Solution to controlling both Canon Speedlites and Smart Studio Stobes

Yongnuo’s YN-E3-RT smart controller will in fact control the output of Canon 600EX-RT speedlites even when not mounted on the smart Canon body.

One need only mount ones current studio flash controller unit onto the camera hot shoe mount, and use a radio receiver unit, which is then plugged into a Hot Shoe Flash Mount with something like a PC Sync Adapter port and attach the YN-E3-RT onto that mount.

I use Paul C. Buff Cyber Commanders, Cyber Sync Receivers and Transmitters.

My Gear Set up

  • Paul C. Buff Cyber Sync Transmitter mounted on the camera
  • Paul C. Buff Cyber Commander, to control the Buff unit power outputs
  • Paul C. Buff Cyber Sync Receiver attached to the Yongnuo YN-E3-RT via a Pocketwizard HSFM3 Flash Sync Cable with Hot Shoe Mount
  • Canon 600EX-RT and YN600EX-RT Speedlites

The YN-E3-RT can control the Canon 600EX-RTspeedlites when the group settings are used in a Manual Power mode.

Studio flash units are generally used in manual power setting modes, so this is quite acceptable and the best for controlling the exact light required.

Between a Yongnuo YN-E3-RT and a Paul C. Buff Cyber Sync Receiver and the cables, you can invest about $200 to the the job done.

That is until Canon makes their 600EX-RT’s functionality capable of this function, or allows their ST-E3-RT Controller the capability.

Bonus – Use this system on Sony bodies to fire and control Canon Flashes !!

Now I can control Canon 600EX-RT flash units using my Sony A7ii camera  body.

This can work two ways.

  • The YN-E3-RT can be mounted directly on the Sony A7ii body and used to manually control the power output of the  600EX-RT Speedlites
  • The YN-E3-RT can be mounted off the A7ii and triggered by the Buff Transceiver / Receiver modules as above, with or without studio flash also

The ability to use Canon Strobes on Sony bodies is a huge advantage to boosting the capability of the Sony system, with only a modest investment in additional lighting accouterments for those with a large stash of Canon gear who are also shooting Sony mirrorless camera bodies.

While I haven’t tested this specifically, am interested to know by comments any tests confirming this mode works with other makes of DSLR.  For example, the YN-E3-RT aught to  work with the 600EX-RT Canon Flashes on most any DSLR camera bodies, like Fuji, Nikon, Panasonic, Pentax, etc.

Caveats

We are talking about controlling remotely the power output and flash triggering of both studio strobes and/or speedlites, simultaneously or separately.

This can only be done in manual power settings.

Most professional photographers usually shoot in Manual mode, both for exposure, and for flash settings, in order to insure full creative control.  So, this is a small bit to give up in many professional scenarios.

This setup will not work for ETTL modes, where the speedlites work smartly with the camera to control exposure.  No big deal for me, as I wasn’t interested in that in any case.

The YN600EX-RT speedlites do not seem to be able to be similarly controlled… Only the Canon Flashes work, not the Yongnua’s… go figure..

Also, I had tried using a PC Sync Cord attached to a Promaster Standard Hot Shoe with a PC Sync Adapter port before switching to the Pocketwizard HSFM3.

The Promaster Hot Shoe worked a few times before it literally broke in gentle use… and I mean for less than 10 use occasions over a little more than a week or two of easy in studio use.  Use the Pocketwizard, it’s well worth the reduction in embarrassment with clients, and of course, always have backup plans.

Biggest Caveat

While the YN-E3-RT Transmitter will control the 600EX-RT’s… in order to adjust the power setting, one must first press and trigger the flash units via the transmitter’s flash test button, that is the button with the lightning bolt next to it.  Otherwise, the power does not adjust.

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Boudoir Blog.

2 Comments

  1. Bharath January 4, 2017 at 2:27 am #

    There was no mention of High Speed Sync in the article.. does this setup allow HSS.. can we take a shot at 1/1000th of a second by syncing strobe, YN and Canon speedlites all together..

    • yucel January 4, 2017 at 9:50 am #

      Hello Bharath,

      HSS High Speed Sync wasn’t mentioned and studio strobes not specifically designed to support HSS usually do not.

      As the project here is about getting studio strobe and Speedlites to work together, HSS is not really on the table.

      Also, HSS could not work when using the Canon strobes with say a Sony body, as the systems are not compatible.

      The Yongnuo controllers do allow HSS with Canon strobes on appropriate Canon bodies.

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