Speedlight Mastery Video production by Damien Lovegrove ~ info & comments

Speedlight_packaging

In this 2.5 hour production I shoot 23 set ups using single or multiple Speedlights. The simplest set up uses just one Speedlight on camera and the most complicated used 3 Speedlights off camera, a Lastolite Ezybox and a reflector. I’ve tried to show every nuance of the rig and shoot. I’ve avoided detailing some of the button pushing info that is flash model specific for brevity reasons knowing that this information is in the manual that came with the flash.

Some set ups are explained in more detail and others that repeat the same action are shot at my normal shooting pace to avoid too much repetition.

I am on hand to answer your questions here. I’ll reference and link to more resources as required or requested. So if you have seen the full 2.5 hours of the production please feel free to ask questions, leave comments, or contribute to the discussion below.

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About Damien

Damien Lovegrove learned his trade as a cameraman and lighting director during 14 years at the BBC, working on programmes such as the Clothes Show, Top of the Pops and Casualty. Fifteen years on, Damien has become one of the foremost trainers of photography and entrepreneurial business strategies in our industry. A published writer and regular columnist, Damien has travelled the globe sharing his knowledge and expertise. “Photography fascinates me” declares Damien. "Much of my photography is inspired by a burning enthusiasm within me” explains Damien. “Picking up a camera gives me such a rush that I’m instantly driven to create pictures.”

63 thoughts on “Speedlight Mastery Video production by Damien Lovegrove ~ info & comments

  1. I’ll start by saying that at several times when using the Pocket Wizard Mini and Flex units I say channel 1 instead of configuration 1. I happen to have configuration 1 set to channel 1 on the TTL set up, hence my train of thought.

  2. Well the dvd arrived a couple of days ago, superb. Everything I learnt with you on the urban portraits reinforced plus more. I look forward to the PW’s for Nikon and seeing you again for more training. Great dvd and a superb learning tool.

    Many Thanks

    RIchard

  3. Hi Damien
    The DVD arrived yesterday. Its technique’s shown are the same as your course teaching style, relaxed, nothing hidden, simple and most important very easy to remember.

    Everyone thinking of buying and not yet, do so you won’t be disappointed, you will learn a lot without having to work that hard. Just sit, watch and learn.

    Forgot don’t forget the wine when watching.

    enjoy

    Lloyd

  4. Hi Damien,

    Knock on the door at 6.20pm last night and the new DvD had arrivedt!!! Watched already, needless to say superb! Just need PW to pull their fingers out and get the Nikon compatibly units released!

    Many Thanks,
    Neil Hanson.

  5. Nice one Damien,

    The new DVD just in time for the holidays!
    One quick question.
    You mentioned anything below 200 ISO will degrade dynamic range. How so?
    Doesn’t the lower ISO setting make for a higher quality shot?

    Thanks,

    Wayne

  6. Hi Wayne,

    On Nikon cameras the base ISO is 200. The cameras are optimised to use this ISO for best quality. There are ISO range extending settings of L.1,L.2 and L.3 available too but these offer no image improvement over the ISO 200 setting. They attenuate the imaging sensor output to facilitate a lower shutter speed when using flash or when dragging the shutter.

    I hope this helps, Damien.

  7. Hi Damien

    DVD has arrived, and watched already, excellent stuff!
    I have to say your teaching skills are superb Damien.
    Its amazing what you can do with the humble speedlight.
    Still struggling a bit with the ratio aspect of speedlights but will get there.
    Anyway I hope you and your family and all the team at lovegrove consulting have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year, and the same to all who may read this blog!

    Thanks again!

    David

  8. Damien,

    I’ve received the Bluray disc and it’s fantastic – the production and picture quality are great and show off your knowledge and work to great effect – excellent!!

    Mark

  9. Really enjoyed watching this dvd and seeing you shoot in locations I regulary visit.

    Particular highlights for me were the following dialogue :)

    Scene 1 ” I think I just have a little bit of wind”

    scene 2 “Bit of bird shit up there but we can sort that out in post production”

    Scene 11 “It’s got a bit of gob and all sorts of rubbish on there you know, but hey that adds all to the flavour.”

  10. Hi Damien, thanks for the DVD which arrived just in time for Christmas.

    I was wondering how you managed to fit the PW and the flash to the Ezybox. Has Lastolite produced a 2nd, PW-friendly version of their bracket? My Ezybox which I bought a couple of years ago doesn’t look the same and can not accomodate the PW/430 EX II.

  11. Ditto to all of the above Damien. It’s really reinforced the day spent with you in Bristol on the PW course. Outstanding and every photographer should have one.

    Rog

  12. Hi David, Thanks for your kind words. I predict that the ratio system that Canon employs won’t be with us for long. It only has partial control on just two groups and as such is way behing the Nikon system. Having said that I do like speed at which I can adjust the lighting balance with my ST-E2 or 580 EX2.

    One thing to remember when getting your head around ratios is that a ratio of A 8:1 B does not boost the output of A it merely cuts the output of B by 3 stops. Similarly a ratio of A 1:4 1/3 B cuts the output of A by 2 and a 1/3 stops. Simples.

    Damien.

  13. Thanks Mark for your positive feedback. I really do appreciate your sentiments.

    I’m amazed the Blu-Ray take up for the production wasn’t greater. With a technical audience who strive for quality I expected one Blu-Ray sale for every DVD sale. It turned out to be one Blu-Ray for every five DVDs. From the New Year I’ll have price parity on the versions to see if that has any effect on the purchase ratios. Plus I expect some people got Blu-Ray players for Christmas.

    The important bit is the content and both disks are identical in this respect. The extra 12 items that didn’t make the disc because they would not fit on the DVD version have now been edited and will be available for download from the Lovegrove Consulting site in the next few weeks. Once I’ve had the chance to write up the content of each item and produced a web page for each one. The downloads will be in 720 HD format in Quicktime H264. This is the best compromise because they will play in reasonable quality on most peoples computers.

    Regards, Damien.

  14. All those blog readers who have yet to see my latest video production please note that the profanities and dialogue discretions mentioned in Stuart’s comment are the exceptions to the rule :) Stuart, Top man, I’m glad the video didn’t disappoint, cheers, Damien.

  15. Hey Damien,

    In regards to the 1 to 5 Blu Ray sales vs DVD.
    Another reason could be that a good majority of users can’t play the Blu Ray version on their personal computers.

    I purchased the Blu Ray version and love it though.
    Oh, and the packaging is fantastic.
    You’re starting to package better than “Apple.”

  16. Hi Kjell,

    My Lastolite Ezybox has the new bracket that is SB-900 and SB-800 compatible. I use it at it’s maximum extension and with the Flex mounted at 90 degrees. The heads of the 580 EX2, SB-900, 430EX2 and SB-800 flashguns all pop into the hole as required.

    Damien.

  17. Hi Damien,

    Well I must say you’ve outdone yourself with this new DVD – I didn’t want it to end!!! I have one/two questions, how can we replicate or produce those results with Nikon equipment without the new pocket wizards? I have in my current arsenal a D700, 2x SB900, 1x SB28, and Quantum T5DR + radio slaves for it. Specifically the availability to take shots at 1/1000 or greater with f4 or f5.6/ f8.0 – would the radio poppers work too – or are the pocket wizards the best choice? It just feels like us Nikon shooters have waited forever for the new pocket wizards to come out!

    But again congratulations on the excellent production!!! One last question: Would you make available the extra footage that was not included due to disc capacity ?

  18. Hi Nestor, Thanks for your words of support.

    With your D700 you can use Auto-FP High Speed Sync. Go to the Bracketing/Flash menu and select (1/250 s) Auto-FP. You can’t use your SB28 but the SB-900s and the SB-800 will be fine. You will be limited in power at high shutter speeds but in overcast light you should be fine for a lot of the TTL shots taken with flash on camera. Radio Poppers relay the IR signals and offer no advantage and are not available in Europe anyway. I’ve not tried Auto-FP in remote mode using the D700 built in flash or the The SU-800 commander but I expect them to work. The PW advantage on the Canon system is that the PW TTL system retimes the flash pulses to achieve at least a stop more power at high shutter speeds. This extra stop or two makes the difference between just achieving fill flash in sunlight and having real flash control.

    Nikon shooters may still be a bit of time off getting PWs yet. But as they have had the best flash system for about 5 years now it’s just a bit of evening out. :)

    I’ve had the extra 12 items edited into downloadable items. They will be available in January. Kind regards, Damien.

  19. The production of this DVD is first class! I got to the end of the DVD and really wanted it to carry on… So happy that the extra items will be downloadable. Over the last few months following this blog, I wondered about how some of the shots were made. Fortunately, some of these were covered on the DVD (which made me very happy). Quality from packaging, the production, Damien’s enthusiasm, the content and the number of different setups covered.

  20. I always recommend Damien’s DVDs to colleagues. Very few instructors master lighting, camera technology, etc like Damien. And I wouldn’t mind a follow-up DVD with advice on how to use Speedlites for brides&grooms (dealing with shadows), using Speedlites indoors, etc.

    PS: I don’t know if this was just introduced in the latest 5.0 PocketWizard firmware but I can now (as of yesterday) control FEC from the camera with the 430 EX II.

  21. Another great DVD production Damien…..thanks and whats the next title going to be ???

    Why have I all of sudden got an urge to find a run down phone box !!!

    Happy New Year to the entire Lovegrove team…

    Simon

  22. Thanks Gwyn, Kjell and Simon. Your support is always appreciated. Kjell, I’ve had 430EX2 control since the last beta release. Now, with full FEC for all Speedlights the 430EX2 is the new darling of my collection.

  23. Hi Damien, thanks for another great production, I really enjoyed it. I would have liked to have seen some post production clips of some of your images like on the other flash and natural light DVD’s, but I know you ran out of space as it is with all the sections you have filmed.

    I bought the Blu-ray version but even if you had have made a double DVD option with all the extra clips and some post processing I am sure they would have sold for the same price as the blu-ray option no problem.

  24. Great DVD Damien. with all the stupid behaviour of the police currently, do you have any problems photographing around the buildings in Bristol?

  25. Thanks for a wonderful DVD!
    I can’t get a higher syncspeed than 1/3200 sec with my 1ds mark III and 580exII without banding. I have newest firmware 5.0. How do you manage to get away with 1/4000?
    1ds mk III should be superior in this respect so I don’t think it’s the camera. An special settings?
    Thanks and a Happy Newyear from Copenhagen.

  26. Hi Michael, Have you tried adjusting the timing offset in the firmware? I find that -170 works fine for my 5Dmk2. If you find a setting that works better then please share for other 1Dsmk3 users. I’m sure 1/3200 will be fine for now but I know what it is like to have a niggly fault.

    Happy New Year, Damien.

    PS: I’d like to come to Copenhagen this year ;-)

  27. Hi Damian,

    I always understood that the EOS cameras emply auto fill flash reduction in bright environments (up to -2 FEC with ETTL2), that’s in addition to user FEC.

    Doesn’t this mean a Canon flash is disadvantaged in BRIGHT daylight by 1-2 stops as It is always in fill mode with ETTL?

    How can you exploit full power in ETTL Canon flash?

    Thank you!

  28. Hi George, no is the answer. You have full control with FEC. You rarely want to push FEC more than a stop but you do want to cut the sun by 2 or 3 stops. Canon has no disadvantage through design.

  29. Hi Damien
    I think there is a lot of confusion around regarding offset timings in the software.

    Clarifications:
    HyperSync and High Speed Sync are very different. They’re both ways to sync faster than your camera’s x-sync, but that’s where the similarities end.

    * High Speed Sync is Canon’s flash pulsing feature. It makes the Speedlite act like a continuous light by rapidly pulsing the flash tube to keep it glowing. This lets you sync at any shutter speed, but you lose a significant amount of power, especially at the faster speeds. High Speed Sync only works with Speedlites and both the transmitting and receiving PocketWizards need to be Minis and Flexes.

    * HyperSync is PW design. It lets you tweak the timing of your flash (any flash) to get the best sync speed possible from your particular camera and flash combination. There’s no pulsing or anything with HyperSync, you’re just *moving* the flash pulse around so it lines up better with the camera’s shutter. (offset timing)
    Adjusting the HyperSync offset won’t affect the timing of the flash when it’s doing High Speed Sync.
    HyperSync will help you out if you don’t have Speedlites, or if you don’t want to use High Speed Sync.

    Strange things happen. Yesterday 1/3200 was my limit without banding. Today..suddenly it went all the way to 1/8000. No banding.. what the heck??
    I guess it’s just one of those things.. (or fresh batteries maybe..?)

    PS. oh yes..Copenhagen..pleeeeease :-)

  30. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your perfect explanation of life above x.

    I’ve just updated to the new firmware on my TT1 and 3 TT5s. I was thinking about your 1/3200 limit predicament yesterday and I came to the conclusion that the timing test on first flash (Auto camera selection activated) might have been corrupted. It was just a thought. Another thought I had was that the variation in the duration of flash burn at different power levels could be the reason for the change in your test today. Was the flash output higher and giving a longer burn as a result?

    I am about to investigate using my Bron Mobil kit with a Multimax receiver to see if I can use that at high shutter speeds in combination with my Mini, Flex and Speedlights.

    I still have so much to learn about this subject and it’s exciting discovering techniques that can be exploited to create new picture opportunities.

    When the Sun comes out in March I want to be ready to exploit high power flash and TTL systems. It will be great when I can do the same with my Nikon kit too.

    Have a great 2010, Damien

    PS: Copenhagen is likely to be June. Still lots to sort but that’s my best guess.

  31. Hi Damien, I’m interested in this disc but it doesn’t seem to cover shots of lighting more than one person?

    I’d love to see some sort of training for dramtic lighting for couples with minimal kit. Any plans to cover something along these lines?

    Best
    G

  32. Hi George,

    You can put a couple in place of one person in virtually any of the shots shown on this disk as you wish. I’ve just used one person because there was no reason to have more than one model on the shoot at a time. I use identical lighting techniques when I shoot Pre Wedding shoots or Cherish shoots with couples. In my opinion, this DVD is ideal if you want to know how to create dramatic lighting for couples using Speedlights. If you want a DVD on how to pose a couple then that’s a different matter and is covered to some extent on the shooting wedding discs. Regards, Damien

  33. Damien – “I’m amazed the Blu-Ray take up for the production wasn’t greater. With a technical audience who strive for quality I expected one Blu-Ray sale for every DVD sale. It turned out to be one Blu-Ray for every five DVDs.”

    I wanted to give some feedback as I to found this an interesting statistic. I have watched the likes of Ghionis and Yervant clips on youtube and despite there lack of quality I have learnt quite a few things about technique, setups and how to interact with couples etc. Naturally the quality of the video is very poor from youtube, it’s not so much about the quality of image but the quality of content which you get on DVD anyway.

  34. Hi damien,

    Any tips for using radio triggers that dont support TTL……mine only fire the flash in manual mode, and i cant afford to replace them just yet……

    What would be you workflow in setting up and metering without TTL ?

    Thanks
    Simon

  35. Hi Simon.

    1. don’t panic
    2. Plan the shot
    3. Set the exposure for the ambient light to the level you want using the camera screen as feedback.
    4. ensure you are within the flash sync speed
    5. put the camera on a tripod so you can go back and forward to the flash heads easily.
    6. rig the flash units on stands etc
    7. set the power of each flash in turn until the desired level is reached
    8. Use the camera screen to confirm that you have set the correct lighting balance
    9. Take the shot
    10. have a beer

    Cheers, Damien.

  36. Speedlight mastery blu ray arrived in the post yesterday. Watched it twice already! Very clear and concise and will be a great help.
    three things spring to mind.
    1. On a lot of the setups you dont say how you have set the camera up. I presume from the fact that you choose the aperture and shutter independently of each othe on many of the occasions when using the flextt1 and tt5 that you select a manual setting?
    2.The blu ray covered all daylight situations. Are you intending to do a similar dvd for using speedlights at night time?
    3. I loved the brackets to hold the speedlights you have designed and noticed on your website that they are out of stock. Do you know when you are due to have them back in?
    mark

  37. Hiya Damien,

    Having watched the Blu-ray yesterday I have a couple of questions please:

    1) There was no use of any grids. Is there any benefit to using a grid on a Speedlite that has been zoomed in fully?

    2) Everything was shot in daylight. It would be nice to see your Speedlite strategies when things get darker.

    I enjoyed the overall production but not so keen on the film crew being in every shot – found it distracting myself.

    The HD quality on the blu-ray is fantastic – if unforgiving of the out-of-focus moments.

    All the best
    Den

  38. I really do agree with Denz. I have all your DVDs and must say that the content of this DVD is by far the best. I absolutely love it. However, the production of this DVD is the worst. It’s incredibly annoying and destracting to have so many of the crew so often in shot. At one point the girl walks across in front of the camera dragging the sound guy behind her! This, together with the fact that there are so many out-of-focus shots to me shows that using the 5D MkII was an interesting exercise but probably a mistake and I do hope that you go back to using a video camera to record video. I also agree that I would love to see a similar video with night shots. I would also love to see some of the editing done on these shots as in previous DVDs.

  39. Hi Damien,

    Watched the DVD last night and am now brimming with ideas and can’t wait to get out and shoot next.

    But I have a set up question too, You are setting both shutter speed and aperture so I presume you are using manual. So are the flashes firing TTL still or are they set manual? (canon with ste2 my normal set up by the way).

    Thanks,

    Chris.

  40. Hi Mark,

    Great questions.
    1. Yes my camera is in manual mode. With the camera set this way any change in picture composition does not change the exposure. TTL works fine with the camera in Manual mode.
    2. My first DVD Using Flash on location covered using a Speedlight at night with city lights as a background. Here is a free trailer showing a Speedlight used at night. My Lighting Winter Weddings DVD also covered using Speedlights at night for interiors and to light a bride on a lawn at dusk. This free trailer shows me using a Speedlight inside without window light. All my DVDs avoid overlap or repetition to ensure maximum value.
    3. We are experiencing delays with our suppliers at the moment. We should have 100 Lovegrove Flash Brackets in stock by Friday 29th Jan. Sorry for the delay. We sold out on day 2 at SWPP.

    Regards, Damien.

  41. Personally it doesnt bother me seeing the “crew” in the shots.

    Just think this was a great DVD and has given me heaps of ideas and inspiration.

    Mark

  42. Hi Denz,

    1, I use grids on Speedlights to create circular spot effects on backgrounds or to help avoid spill and flare. I’ll be using them in my next DVD on studio lighting when I’ll use Speedlights with grids to create a spotlight look on the background.
    2. I’ve covered Speedlights at night on my previous DVDs. As mentioned in another reply. Also the sequence in the bar with Stina is as good as at night. On three of the frames I created no daylight or ambient light was used at all. My direction to the film crew was for the close up camera and the dialogue camera to be in close so the viewer can see what’s on my camera screen and the wide shot to show all the lighting stands and the scene in general because it is important for the content. The content came first and I deemed it necessary to shoot that way. Having said that I was shocked at how difficult it is to track close focus when using a live view screen.

    Damien.

  43. Hi Richard,

    When I shot this DVD I wanted the content to be king and as you say it is my best DVD to date. My next production will be studio lighting and will use a TV demo type set up with real HD video cameras and no cameras in shot. You’ll never know how big my studio is but that shouldn’t matter. With this production I was really restricted to 2.5 hours of content because that was all I could fit on a DVD and that gave me no room for post production as in my first DVDs. My next production will be on 1 Blu-Ray or 2 DVDs with the DVD option being the more expensive as I can fit 5 hours of full HD on a single Blu-Ray. Post processing studio pictures is a completely different process to PP on location shots so I’ll be doing a 16bit post production section on that disk. The PP on Speedlight Mastery pictures uses no new techniques that weren’t shown in my previous discs.

    Regards, Damien.

  44. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your kind words. Yes I’m shooting in Manual mode using TTL for the flash unless otherwise stated in the item.

    Regards, Damien.

  45. Hi Richard, I will start shooting in July and edit in September for a November release. Well this is the plan as it seems at the moment. I have a tour of South East Asia to get in this year too. Regards, Damien.

  46. Damien,
    I spoke to you earlier to confirm that a lot of the speedlight photography is done inb manual above (43). I’m due to go to Venice for the carnival in February and hope to use some of the techniques you showed on you blu ray.
    A couple of things to ask.
    Firstly if your photgraphing abroad do you take all your photography equipment as hand luggage? or do you trust some of it to go into the baggage hold.
    Secondly on thinking about the blu ray “speedlight mastery” it would be nice as a extra if you displayed all the stills that you took at each session with the details of aperture speed etc with a basic outline of the speedlights used and their positioning, so perhaps this could be considered at a future date?
    mark

  47. Hi Mark,

    I recommend a Think Tank bag that is hand luggage size. I don’t have one yet but I will get one at Focus after seeing Chris Hanley’s in Tuscany. When I travel I only take 3 lenses, one small camera body, a couple of Speedlights, flash triggers and an iPhone in my hand luggage. I have a monopod, battery chargers, a couple of lighting stands and flash brackets in my hold baggage and that’s it. Cheers, Damien.

  48. This is an absolute cracking DVD.
    I have learnt so much from all the techniques used and I am really looking forward to trying some out.
    Especially liked the use of the new Pocket Wizards.
    Thanks
    John

  49. Hello Damien, on this DVD you have one setup that uses 3 speedlights. In your general work published on this blog, it appears that most of the lighting is done with up to 2 speedlights. Do you often use more than 2 speedlights?

  50. Hi Gwyn, I use 3 Speedlights when I can find 3 that work :) Now that I’ve ‘done’ single and twin light sources I will be moving on to more complex set ups. It’s just very few of my delegates have 3 or 4 Speedlights. Cheers, Damien.

  51. Just been giving the DVD a 2nd and 3rd watch.. picking up new techniques and ideas each time!

    But I have another question, on the graffiti shots, you don’t mention what sort of zoom you have the flashes set too?

    Thanks,

    Chris.

  52. Oh Chris, I’m sorry that I can’t remember. I usually start with 105mm then widen out if necessary. I expect they are on 105mm ;)

    Cheers, Damien.

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