Being out on the road full time for TFC, my job takes me all over the country. One day I can be in central London; the next day I could be in the depths of Scotland. One thing for sure is that I meet some very interesting people along the way and learn about the very different ways our Elinchrom kit is being used. The opportunity to travel to Portugal to see how we could push the limits of the Elinchrom ELB 400 Battery System seemed very appealing and I wasnít wrong! The little 400W/s ELB Quadra NEVER ceases to amaze me. Its always willing to perform even in the harshest of conditions. With the introduction of the Hi-Sync Head and dedicated Skyport HS triggering system, (Canon, Nikon, Sony & Olympus) it opens a whole new world up to photographers that want to be creative and push the limits of their creativity and their flash sync speed. I have used the ELB 400 overseas several times before with great results but the Hi Sync system changes everything - it's even better!
John started his ďAlgarve SafariĒ around 4 years ago and it has grown into something he never imagined. 20+ delegates who are all as passionate about photography as the next, makes for some very creative images. On the first day John and I split the delegates into 2 groups and took one group each off to different locations. John was shooting indoors and I was outside. Firstly, I explained the kit to them and then started showing the benefits of balancing daylight and flash before moving onto different techniques throughout the day, finishing off with Hi-Sync. Iím a big fan of matching light for light when shooting outdoors. What I mean by this is, if you are shooting in hot unbroken sunshine, the light is going to be very hard so I make sure the modifier Iím using produces the same hard light. This can be achieved by using a bare Elinchrom Reflector that has not been softened with a diffuser. The 18cm, 21cm and 26cm reflectors will all do this job, with slightly different effects. If its overcast and the light is softer Iíll use a modifier to produce softer light, such as one of the larger Rotalux Softboxes. Thatís just the way I prefer it, its not necessarily the right way, but rather my preferred method.
During the week we visited a few locations, one of which was a beach called Barrill which was a short minibus journey away. A lovely location with very little shade when you got away from the central cafť areas. This, I thought, was my opportunity to really try out the ELB 400. I waited until lunch time when all the delegates were eating and wandered off to find a suitable place. I grabbed one of Johnsí team members to use as a model and set up my shot. Remember the temp is in the low 30ís, it's bright blue sky and there is no shade whatsoever. I placed the ELB Hi-Sync Head at roughly the same angle as the sun was shining. I was only using the frosted diffuser cap on the head to give me a harder light to match the ambient. The Overdrive Sync (ODS) on my Skyport HS Transmitter is already set up for my 5D Mk III. I tend to find a setting of 0.6M/s works well with my camera and catches nicely the optimum place on the 424W/s flash curve produced by the ELB. I set the pack to a power value of 5.0, which is a stop under full power, in the A channel. The above image was shot at 100 ISO 1/8000s at F16 and virtually straight out of camera.
This got me thinking about how else I could use the ELB in these conditions. At many shows throughout the year I get get asked how good the ELB is in bright sun and is 400W/s powerful enough? With todayís cameras and the evolution in sensor technology we really donít need the power we used to need. I decided to try something different from the norm and after taking the shot was amazed at the result. This time I used the sun to light the subjects back (so the sun was behind me) I placed the ELB head behind my subject to her right and set the pack to full power, once again using just the frosted diffuser cap. I wanted to create the illusion that the head was actually the sun and create enough flare to disguise the fact it wasnít. It didnít let me down! Using a standard sync speed of 1/125th at 100 ISO and this time F4 to give me shallow depth of field. The only retouching involved was for me to remove the stand the head was on.
I love the effect the flare gives and just shows how efficient the ELB system actually is. You will never over power the sun with it abroad, it was never designed to do that but what it will allow you to do is become more creative in your images and use the sun as a secondary light source. All of these uses and not a hint of TTL in sight!!!
I would highly recommend Johnsí annual trip and you can find more information at www.johndentontraining.com