The Big Red Ball has definitely been one of the more fun things at the Galway International Arts Festival this year. The concept is simple, a giant red ball magically appears at a host of locations around the city. Due to other work I couldn’t make all of the locations, but here’s the ones I did make!

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Click into the post for more!

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It’s Festival Time, making it the busiest time of the year! It’s 5:30am and I’m getting photos out to clients before adding more in again. Last Sunday saw Laura Fox in the Sunday World with her last feature before Miss Ireland this weekend. Good luck! Check out the article for more photos.

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Shoots in studio can be anything from 20 minutes for a headshot to a full day of fashion. Even then you can still be under time pressure with a one day lookbook shoot. On location you can be under time pressure because of fading light or more likely here, the oncoming rain. With photo calls, you might have 10 minutes with 5 other photographers vying for the same shot. Even for editorial work it can be in and out, thanks very much and hope you got the shot. So a little practice never hurts.

The goal for this photo was to get a shot I was really happy with in a location with 10 minutes to setup, shoot and strip down. I choose musician Paul Ward on his recent gig in The Quays. He had no clue beforehand, but was well up for it. We went to the dressing room where I set up the gear and did a few variations before deciding on this look. The 10 minute mark hit as I was leaving the dressing room, all packed and done. I’m happy with it. I wasn’t aiming for award winning, just a solid portrait.

I started with front lighting with my portable octabox in a butterfly configuration-a typical start point for me, but opted to go for a short lit look to bring more mood, and to darken the background more in the tight space. For the black and white conversion, I’ve just set the saturation slider to -100 in Lightroom to retain the tonal balance from the original. Finally I added Grain @ Amount 18.

Gear: Fuji X Pro-1 with 18-55 lens @55mm 1/125 f10 ISO 400. Godox V860C flash in manual controlled via the FT-16s trigger, with the Wide Angle Diffuser out (14mm). Flash at half power. 120cm Octa on Ebay flash bracket with Manfrotto Nano 001b stand.

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As a fashion, portrait and beauty photographer here in Galway, I do both studio and location shoots. My studio lights, and my high power battery flashes are made by Elinchrom, so I can mix and match my modifiers between them for consistency in my lighting choice. Even though the Rangers are relatively lightweight for their power, you can’t just leave them in the bag in case of a job. In these case I prefer to use speedlights. I’ve mentioned the Neweer rebranded Godox flashes before, but I’ve also gone with a Godox V860C TTL flash. This is now my main speedlight for both TTL and Manual usage. I really only use TTL for my club event photography, and for occasional on camera bounce flash work.

I do have a range of modifiers for speedlights, which I’ll discuss in the future (including the awesome MagMod stuff), but by and large they don’t meet the standard of the studio modifiers. One of my favourite modifiers is my Deep Octa 70. It’s just so versatile. I’ve blogged about this before when talking about ‘Shooting with 4 lights‘. It packs down enough for a suitcase for travel, but not quite Ryanair size. For my upcoming talk on speedlights at the SWPP Convention, I have a suitcase so I may bring this.. because I have a way to use it with my Godox.

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There’s a really common bracket that used with loads of speed light softboxes, and some genius has modified one to hold Elinchrom modifiers. I’ve actually had my one a while from eBay (here’s a sample one; I’ve not bought from them), but I was really busy so never got to even test it. I’ve been using the Lastolite 36″ Triplefold Umbrella, and an Ebay 120cm Octa recently, but really wanted the look of the Deep Octa. One thing I’ve noticed with the 120cm Octa (it’s a reverse Octa-so the flash faces into it), is that the best light comes when I use the Wide Angle Diffuser (WAD) on the flash. With the Godox, that’s a 14mm zoom; Really wide.

So I mounted the Godox on the bracket, and then mounted the whole lot to the Deep Octa. It’s easier doing it this way than trying to mount the Deep Octa onto the bracket. Trust me, you’ll look far more clever on the job if you do. The flash is really secure because you have both the flash screw and the coldshoe screw to hold it in place. That’s the beauty of having the trigger mount to the side of the flash.

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Next is the test to see what works best for spread. I set Fuji XPro-1 & Godox up to render expose the interior of the Octa. I shot 2 shots, one with the flash at 24mm, with the WAD off, and the other at 14mm with the WAD on.

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We can see the most even light is from the 14mm. I could use a Stofen style cap to diffuse more, but that requires additional power from the flash. Not as much of an issue with the Godox with it’s 650 full power flashes per battery, but still one to consider.

I did shoot some test shots with my wife, but needless to say, they’re not going up here; late night shots are not for publication. Still they came out well and I’m looking forward to using this in upcoming location shoots. Here’s the Deep Octa in action with the Quadra on location

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The latest Photoshop User magazine is out now with my Maximum Workflow article on onOne Software’s Perfect B&W.

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The fabulous Laura Fox won Miss Sunday World this year and will go forward to Miss Ireland now. Laura was Miss Galway last year and finished in the top 7. Well done. The paper commissioned shots for last Sunday’s issue, so here’s how they looked in the paper, and the shots themselves. Makeup by Rebecca Ward, assisted by Ally McGinn. Text by Daragh Keany.

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And here’s the shots.

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There’s a 4 page spread with Ballinasloe native, but Greek resident Ria Purcell in those month’s Galway Now Magazine, on sale since Friday. Main photos in the spread are mine, and I must say they look great in this. HUMA was Sharon D, with Styling from Aidan Judge.

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My bag is packed. I’m ready to go..

Real estate work today, so I’ve packed my bag for it. I love looking through other people’s bags, so maybe I should post mine in return! The bag itself is a basic Hama bag from

So here’s the contents:

Big Bits!

Canon 5D MKIII
Canon 17-40 f4 L
Canon TSE24 Mk I
Canon 85mm f1.8 USM
Canon 580ex MkII
Nikon SB28dx
Neewer TT850 X2
Lastolite Trifold umbrella.

Small Bits
Godox FT-16s trigger (1 transmitter, 2 receivers)
Yong Nuo RF602 (1 transmitter, 2 receivers)-on of 2 sets I have
16 AA batteries (7dayshop Eneloop copies, Eneloops and Lidl)
6 AAA (7dayshop Eneloop copies)
Spare tripod plate
Camera battery
Card holder with CF and SD cards

As you know from the previous post on flash, I’m loving the Neewer flashes. Today was a day where something I’ve suspected became more obvious. The batteries are a dud. They just don’t last as long as advertised. Which is why I’ve new ones ordered, and why I’ve 4 flashes with me, and additional triggers. The power from the flashes, the design, the remote power are all exactly what I need. The batteries I got with mine.. not so much. And I’ve heard the same from a mate with his ones. I guess I’ll stick with the Godox branded ones next time.

When you’re on the job you have to have spares. My spare camera is in the studio less than 10 minutes from this job, so I wasn’t pushed about that, but I was worried about the flashes. This morning I did a quick charge on the lower of the 2 batteries. Despite saying it was at 2/3 power on the flash, it charged from 20% up. The full flash probably did about 100 1/8 power pops before it died. Some were 1/32, some were 1/4, but on average it was 1/8. Not 650 full power flashes.

We’ll see when the new batteries (and the Godox v860c TTL flash) arrive for sure!

As to the rest of the gear, it allows me to get all I need in a house, and for Airbnb, the 85 means I have a lens for the host portrait. The Lasolite trifold gets used for these portraits, or for shots requiring bounced light where there’s not available wall!

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I recently shot the SS14 and AW14 photos for Mary White Millinery. Modelled by Simona Va from Catwalk Model Agency, the whole set can be found on Mary’s Website.

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I’ve been using Off Camera Flash(OCF) for almost 10 years now. I’ve used tonnes of different flashes for said OCF: Canon 550ex, 540ez, 580ex, 580ex II, Nikon SB28dx, Sigma 500 Super, Olympus FL50r, Yong Nuo 560. I’ve even modded some of them to take radio triggers (see here and here). I’ve made ring flashes and strip boxes, along with various bounce cards and bought loads of modifiers to shape their light. So that’s my OCF background. I’ll talk more about techniques and shoots again, but for now I want to talk about the gear, specifically the flash in OCF.

Recently I ordered 2 new flashes (despite owning 7 already). I went for the NEEWER® TT850 (Amazon US
), which are rebadged Godox Ving v850s. These flashes have a guide number of 58, which match the power of any of the flagship models from Canon or Nikon. They also come with a lithium battery giving 650 full power flashes, with a 1.5s recycle time. You can get matched triggers that allow full power and flash control remotely(FT-16s) for up to 16 groups of flashes(in 1/3 stop increments too, not all flashes allow that). The heads have a full 360 degree swivel, and don’t require holding a button in to start turning. They also have a lamp that projects a criss cross red light allowing you to see exactly where the flash is pointed. Spec wise these fulfill 95% of what I could want in a battery flash. And yes, I have been looking at getting new flashes for a while! Why did I go with the Neewer brand? Basically it’s cheaper than the identical Godox V850 Flash (US). Godox are an OEM producer for Neewer, Cheetah and Lencarta amongst others, so it’s not a question of being higher or lower quality based on the prices. The brand sets the price.


After getting the flashes I saw they’ve an 860c, with TTL, so I’ve ordered that to get a matched 3 flash set (The 860 is the same flash with the auto addition). There are other options out there, but this is the first set that have built in long life batteries, which sealed the deal for me. I’ve done load of work with them now and am still quite impressed with them. I’m shooting loads of real estate currently, so I had been wasting loads of time walking to and from flashes to get good light balance. No more!

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Have there been any cons? Yep. They have a sleep function that I only discovered when they went asleep on me while mounted into a truss for MK in Carbon, where it was a pain to get at to wake them up again. The sleep settings can be changed but I just didn’t know it about it at the time. Also the power button isn’t flush, so you can accidentally turn it on putting it into the pouch after use. I’ve had the batteries die more than once from this.

I was teaching with them at Hamps Hall-this years location for Paul RG Haleys regular residential photo training (or photo retreat if you prefer). The class found the flashes great and really loved the remote power and modelling lamp. Here’s a quick portrait of Lisa from one of the classes. Single flash at 1/4 power into a Lastolite Trifold umbrella, with a mini reflector from below and a bare flash at 1/8 power or thereabouts pointed at the wall behind Lisa.

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While not as powerful as my Elinchrom Ranger Quadras, the TT850 with FT-16s gives me the same kind of control as I have via the Quadra/Skyport combination but with less weight for applications where the power just isn’t required. As to the 7 I already had, I’ve been selling them off!

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Lightroom Blog

  • After CC is gone. 11-07-2014
    It’s been there since 5.5 came out, but wasn’t announced-perhaps because of the hubbub of all the other Creative Cloud announcements; You can continue to access your photos in Lightroom ev
  • Jeffrey Friedl on reducing large catalog size. 26-06-2014
    Often people will take blogs and do a rough edit then post.. but this post is so good, you need to go over there and read it yourself. Jeffrey Friedl (the King of Lightroom plugins), talks about a way
  • Essential Development 50% off until July 1st 24-06-2014
    My ebook with Craft and Vision ‘Essential Development‘ is on sale until July 1st. Get it 50% now-just $3.50 including 100 presets!