How to shoot at ƒ/1.4, ISO 50, 1/4000 Shutter Speed and with Studio Strobes

Nikon D750, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 50, ƒ/1.4, 1/4000–2 Alienbees B1600

Getting this photo of Truett Cathy at the Original Dwarf House in Hapeville, GA wasn’t as simple as just pulling out the camera and shooting it at ƒ/1.4. Here is what you get if you do that alone.

Nikon D750, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 50, ƒ/1.4, 1/4000

I put two Alienbees B1600s on light stands. I used the Vagabond Mini™ Lithium to power each light. To trigger the lights I am using the Pocketwizard Mini TT1 with the AC3 on the camera and using the TT5 with AC9 on the flashes. This lets me shoot using Optimized High Speed Sync.

I would not been able to shoot with the flashes at ƒ/1.4 with flash that limits me to the sync speed of 1/200 due to the limits of the D750 and most flashes. I was already at ISO 50 which is as low as the camera will go.

I put a CTO gel on one of the Alienbees Strobes and position this a little behind the statue so I would make it look like the sun lighting the scene. Then I put the other strobe straight on acting as a fill light.

I just turned the power up and down on each flash using the Pocketwizard AC3 to control the flashes. This meant I could just take a photo and look at the back LCD and then make changes, rather than having to walk over and dial the power up and down on the back of the Alienbees B1600 flashes.

Learning to manage expectations

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

The one thing that helps to calm my fears for an assignment is seeing what the client has gotten in the past from other photographers. I also love it when they tell me how they felt about that coverage.

The best thing you can do before you take on an assignment is to find out what the expectations are of the client for the project. I call this calibrating your creative juices.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/160

Before shooting this wedding the parents of the groom showed me the brides sister’s wedding coverage from two years ago. I knew after seeing the other photographer’s work what the standards for their wedding were for their photographer.

They were happy with the photos. I made mental note of the style and then decided to meet that and then to put my own touches onto the images. I was just adding icing to the cake.

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G,  ISO 2800, ƒ/1.8, 1/100

My strength is finding moments like these here. Capturing the “True Love” of a bride and groom is what I loved doing with this wedding.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/60–Pocketwizard AC9 to combine with my Pocketwizard TT5 and then using the phone cord plug into the back of the Alienbees B1600.

I also love making the light look better when needed.

Do you know the expectations of your client? Are you able to not just meet those expectations but give them some images that take the coverage up a notch or two?

Pocketwizard AC9 a Game Changer with Alienbees High Speed Sync 1/8000

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 125, ƒ/1.8, 1/1250

Today for the very first time I was shooting with my Alienbees outside with shutter speeds above 1/400. That is all I could sync before using my Pocketwizards and plugging into the Alienbees with an 1/8 plug.

I bought the Pocketwizard AC9 to combine with my Pocketwizard TT5 and then using the phone cord plug into the back of the Alienbees B1600.

With this combination I could shoot up to 1/4000 on my Nikon D750 and up to 1/8000 with my Nikon D4.

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 1000, ƒ/1.8, 1/4000

As you can see here is the D750 with Flash @ 1/4000.

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 1000, ƒ/1.8, 1/4000

This is with no flash outside. So you can see how much the flash really helps.

Now with the AC3 on top of the Pocketwizard Mini TT1 you can control the power of the Alienbees.

Here is the chart of how that would work:

  • +3 = Full Power
  • +2 = 1/2 Power
  • +1 = 1/4 Power
  • 0 = 1/8 Power
  • -1 = 1/16 Power
  • -2 = 1/32 Power
  • -3 = 1/32 Power
You also have the 1/3 increments also to use in between. 
So here is the basic setup I was using. Here is the list of gear:
  • 2 – Alienbee B1600s
  • 2 – Vagabond Mini
  • 2 – Cowboystudio 7’ 4 Section Portable Adjustable Stand
  • 2 – Westcott 2001 43” Optical White Satin Collapsible Umbrella
  • 2 – Pocketwizard AC9
  • 2 – Pocketwizard TT5
  • 1 – Pocketwizard Mini TT1
  • 1 – Pocketwizard AC3
  • Nikon D4
  • Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8
I pack the lighting gear all into this Seahorse SE-920 with padded dividers. This is a really super basic kit that I can fly with to jobs where I need something a little more powerful and now capable of still shooting at ƒ/1.8 to get that great BOKEH.