Still Life 1 – On the Roads

Fresh Bun – An on the Roads Production

Using Alpha Wireless Flash
by mohd sulhan

I have been asked plenty of times by fellow users of Alpha Mount systems (Sony/Minolta SLR & DSLR) to write something on the wireless flash system.

Yes, I would certainly agree to write one, but I guess, I would this time make an article less technical, but focus along the lines of actual usage of the Wireless Flash system itself. This would then not be a technical review articles.
I will go through the following sequence in this article – hopefully all my HowTo articles in the future follows this sequence:

1 – My Tools – The Equipment Setup
2 – Concept – The Intended Shot in Mind
3 – Production Stage – Preparations for the shot
4 – Production Stage – Actual Shooting & Technique Discussed
5 – Post-Production – How can the photos and content be used
6 – Questions & Answers

I’ll Show you how you could use you wireless flash to get some great shots to enable you to explore your creativity to achieve something like this:

1 – My Tools – The Equipment Setup

The equipment used in this session are as listed below. As I was on the roads at the time of writing, I do not have other tools like studio strobes on hand. I am using the Minolta 5600HS(D) Exclusively until I stumble upon the HVL-F42AM unit here in Vancouver. So grab this last set form a retailer. Now my 5600HS(D0 have a companion. Therefore, the two strobes units listed below will be the main star of this article.

– Sony Alpha 700 DSLR

Lighting Setup:
– 01 x Sony HVL-F42AM Flash Unit
– 01 x Minolta 5600HS(D) /Sony- HVLF56AM
*Both the Flash Units listed above supports Wireless Flash
– Velbon 530 Tripod + Ball-head

Sony 85mm f1.4 ZA


As you can see here, these are the basic tools that I carry along when I’m on the roads. Lugging the minimal is important as I would not want to lug my whole Dry box with me.

With the tools listed above, there are a wide range of types of photography possible. Only I’m the limiting factor. Next We’ll look at what was on my mind prior to taking the shot.
Setting Your Flash to Wireless Mode:

To setup your camera and flash for Wireless photography, Firstly ensure your Alpha mount flash supports wireless flash. I make an assumption here that we are looking at the DSLR systems – Dynax 7D onward.
Follow these steps:

1 – Mount Flash on Camera
2 – Power up Camera and Flash together
3 – Go to Menu (depending on your Camera, the location may vary)
4 – Go to the Flash Mode (In A700 its on Camera Seetings Tap No. 2 – First Item is Flash Mode)
5 – Select Flash Mode with OK button and you will get, these options:
a) Fill Flash
b) Rear Sync
c) Wireless
5 – Select Wireless
6 – Thats it!!!, You can take off the flash from camera and repeat the process with the second flash.
7 – Note that we are assuming that all channels are default at Channel 1 for the wireless flash.

2 – Concept – The Intended Shot in Mind

As usual, alone out here away from home, I just have to keep myself busy. Its at the end of winter and its still cold out there. Very Cold especially at night-time. Still suffering from jet lag, I was wide awake at three in the morning. The hotel that I am staying in have amenities – like a kitchenette…a well equipped one!!

What came to my mind are some still life shots of some groceries that I have bought earlier during the day. Well, budgeting the period of shoot to be about an hour or two, by the time the shoot would be all over might just be time fro breakfast. So I decided to make a Sandwich and then take a photo of it.
I decided to target for two shots.

1) One shot of the Red tomatoes that is currently in the freezer for lighting trials.

This will just be a simple shot of three tomatoes lining-up on the top of the kitchen counter. Back light by a bright source of light or backdrop. Another light source will be used as the flexible fill-in.

Figure. 1

2) A still life shot of a Sandwich. Yummy Sandwich for Break fast!! Self Ordered, Self-made!!

The photo of the Sandwich will be taken using the light setup that has been fixed in the first rounds of tomato shoot. The Sandwich must look Delicious!!! Obviously. Lighting position needs to create:

– highlights to show some oily and waxy surface from the fish-patty and from the tomato and onion.
– 3-D effect for realism and depth
– Lively Colors

Figure. 2

3 – Production Stage – Preparations for the shot

OK, now the real stuff. I looked around the hotel room for a good location for the shots and also props or supporting items that could be used for the shot. As I need to achieve specific lighting goals mentioned in the previous section, location of the shot and and position of lighting is important.

Achieving Back-light Backdrop:

There wasn’t any good white wall that I could use as a backdrop. I looked around and found a cutting board which is good enough for dispersing light using a flash positioned at its rear.

Figure. 3 Translucent Cutting Board Diffuser

Figure. 4 Position of flash for back light

Figure. 5  Top View of flash position and angle

Preparing the subject: (The trade Secret Revealed….)
Once the placements of the setup has been finalized, the next thing to do is to prepare the subjects.

I prepared a Sandwich with the following ingredients:

– Bun
– Lettuce
– Tomatoes (sliced)
– Onions (sliced) – I used the Red Sweet Onion for this
– Egg ( I Microwave the egg white to make it look like “Mayonnaise” & then microwave the egg yolk on a flat plate to make the “Cheese”.
– Batter Dipped Fish Patty – I got a box of this in Wal-mart and used two pieces for the sandwich.

Basically I prepared the sandwich based on the listed items above and got this:

Figure. 6 My Little breakfast – Taken with Phone Cam

Next: Still Life 1 (cont.)

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