REVIEW – RFN-4s Wireless Remote Shutter Release for Nikon DSLR with MC30 – Transmitter and Receiver Set

If you’ve been following our blog for any length of time you’re already aware that we’ve been doing some experimenting with light painting. For this type of photography there are a few tools that you’ll want to have in your tool kit.

  • Camera & lens
  • Tripod
  • Continuous light source
  • Shutter release

Today we’re going to be reviewing the RFN-4s transmitter/receiver set (www.smdv-usa.com). Since we primarily shoot Nikon (D200, D700 and D810) this particular set fits the bill nicely because they all have the MC30 connector.

The transmitter is a small remote control device that uses two AAA batteries and a series of dip switches to sync to the receiver. The receiver itself uses power from the camera for operation.

FEATURES:

  • Compact Wireless Remote Control Shutter Release for Professional Nikon Cameras.
  • 16 channels in 2.4GHz frequency.
  • Maximum range of 320 ft (100 meters).
  • Fully supports Bulb shooting mode.
  • Transmitter conveniently uses AAA battery (not included).
  • Receiver unit is powered by the camera.
  • 3rd generation RFN-4s (available starting in July 2018) features an even smaller receiver unit.
  • 3rd generation receiver unit also features more robust pinsand more flexible antenna (compared to the 1st generation).
  • For Nikon MC30 type connection.  Replaces Nikon ML-3.
  • Compatible with Nikon D850, D810, D800E, D800, D700, D500, D300s, D300, D200, D6, D5, D4S, D4, D3S, D3X, D3, D2Xs, D2Hs, D2X, D2H, D1.

PROS:

  • Small lightweight devices
  • Connects nicely to camera with not additional cords or hotshoe mount
  • Excellent range

CONS:

  • As with any electronic device that you’re not using often you’ll want to remove the batteries from the transmitter

SUMMARY:

We couldn’t be happier with this set. At a mere $58 on Amazon this is a quality device that you’ll want to keep handy in your camera bag. Whether you’re doing light painting, shooting with a 10-stop filter, or you want to be in that group shot this is the tool you need.

SAMPLE SHOT:

Here is a shot of a little cabin, “The Love Shack” that was too hard to pass up for doing some light painting.

The LOVE SHACK, yeah baby! 🙂

Using a tripod mounted camera along with the RFN-4s and the YOUKOYI light wand, we were able to light different areas and remotely trigger the camera. This provided us with instant shutter activation without any induced camera movement. When doing light painting any camera shake will make image alignment more challenging.

Thanks for checking out this article and keep checking back to keep up with our adventures.

Sharon & Doug

Review – YOUKOYI Handheld Light Photography Portable LED Video Light Wand

When it comes to light painting for photography you’ll find yourself looking for light sources that make the job easier. Such was the case when I was approached about photographing the interior of a car.

Because of the limited space in a car I had to assess how I would light it correctly. The look that I planned on was not just a simple shot of the interior but something more classy like a light painted imaged.

My first thoughts were to grab a with a continuous light source with a small soft box or some means of defusing the light. Not wanting to deal with cords or since I really don’t have a soft box that lends itself well to this environment my next option was a flashlight.

While the flashlight form factor would be more conducive to the environment it would very difficult to control the light beam and intensity. After doing some research I started reading about light painting with a light wand.

A quick search gave me a myriad of options many ranging from $100+ up to the premium Wescott Ice Light 2 which cost $379 at B&H Photo. While I’m sure that these are all fine lights I just wasn’t quite prepared to lay out that kind of money at the time. Continuing my research I found the YOUKOYI Handheld Light Photography Portable LED Video Light Wand which is what I’ll be reviewing today.

REVIEW

Features:

  • Memory function and Dimmable
  • 2 colors temperature and 6 brightness modes
  • Emit 36 different levels total, 1000LM(max).
  • USB rechargable and can work up to 4 hours continuously after full charge.
  • Remote Control allowing you to control the light easily at the distance of 7 meters
  • 1/4″ thread in handle base to allow mounting to light stand or tripod

First impressions:

Coming in under the $100 mark I wasn’t expecting much in the way of quality, however I was pleasantly surprised. While not extremely heavy it definitely has a solid feel to it. The light itself has a soft diffused cover over it that 1″ wide x 15″ long and has a brushed aluminum cover on the sides/back.

Switching between the two color temperatures (3000k and 5700k) is as simple as a double press of the power button. Just below it are two arrow buttons where you can adjust the light intensity.

The ability to attach to a light stand is a nice bonus, but for my intended purposes not sure how much it will be used.

COST:

$59 on Amazon

PROS:

  • Lightweight yet sturdy
  • Good light temperature range and color
  • Long battery life
  • Light stand mountable
  • Carrying strap
  • Remote control
  • Storage bag
  • Cost

CONS:

  • Only 2 colors of light

Summary:

Well that pretty much wraps up this review. All in all I’m extremely happy with this light. While the addition of additional colors for the light might have been nice, honestly I’m not sure how much I would have used them. My primary purpose for this light is to light painting of car interiors. If I was hard pressed and needed to add color I could always add a gel to the diffuser. I would rate this light a good buy for someone looking to do light painting or want a nice portable portrait light.

SAMPLE:

This is a car interior that I light painted with the YOUKOYI.

Thanks for checking out our blog.

Doug

Simple beauty

Sometimes single objects can make some of the most interesting photographs. With the studio now set up I’ve been looking for any opportunity to do some photography.

Simple low-key setup

For this shot I chose to use a single object, a head of garlic. Because of the small size of my subject I knew that I would have to not only use a small light source but also control the direction for the light in order to minimize unwanted lit areas.

Setup:

  • Backdrop – Black Savage paper backdrop
  • Platform – Posing table
  • Flash – Nikon SB-800 speed light with snoot* made from a koozie
  • Light stand for flash – Located right of subject

*Snoot – In photography, a snoot is a tube or similar object that fits over a studio light or portable flash and allows the photographer to control the direction and radius of the light beam. These may be conical, cylindrical, or rectangular in shape. Snoots can isolate a subject when using a flash. Wikipedia

After taking a couple of test shots I found that because of the light position and narrowness of the light I needed some way of lightening some of the shadows on the left side of the garlic.

While there are many fancy ways that this could be accomplished the only thing that is required is some way of bouncing light back on the subject. For this particular shot I used a simple sheet of paper. This proved to be ideal to bring just enough light back onto the garlic head to help soften the harsh shadows.

Although not necessarily intentional, the posing table provided a slight reflection. For this particular shot I think that this really helps the image so it doesn’t look like the garlic is just floating in mid-air.

So as you can see with a small setup and just a simple subject you can achieve some really images. I highly encourage everyone to do whatever you need to in order to continue to hone your photography skills.

In the coming weeks I will be doing some low-key portrait photography as well as continuing to do some more still-life shots. Anyway, thanks as always for checking in at our site and if you have any questions or comments please be sure to reach out to us.

Thank you,

Sharon & Doug Shatto

Studio is LIVE!

Well we’ve talked about it, but we can officially say the DS Visual Art studio is live and open for business. The backdrops are up and lights are ready to go. As mentioned in previous posts the studio area has accessibility that allows photographing from a higher vantage point down into the main shop area.

Barn Door allows shooting photography down into main shop
Main studio with lights & backdrops

We so happy to have this new space and are looking forward to capturing some amazing photographs. If you’re looking for portrait photography call us today to book a session. If you’re looking for some amazing fine art be sure to check out our website, www.dsvisualart.com.

Studio update

Well as we stated last month we’ve been working on building out some studio space for DS Visual Art. It’s with great satisfaction that we can say that the studio is finally nearing completion.

Studio space with new flooring

It’s been almost a year in the making, and years of dreaming, but the studio is almost complete. The photo above shows about 2/3 of the space. Since this image was taken we have installed our backdrop hanger (which will hold 3 different backdrops).

In addition to backdrops, we’ve started moving lighting equipment up to the space. One thing that makes this space unique is the fact that with the studio being in a loft area, we have build in the ability to photograph from the loft to the lower level of the building. While the primary space will be used for portrait and other types of photography, we will also have the space to accommodate vehicle photography.

Other features we will be adding in the very short term will be themed backgrounds and lighting supports to reduce the need for light stands which will help increase shooting space.

That pretty much sums up this update. Thanks for continuing to follow our journey. Stay tuned as we’ll be looking to start providing more instructional posts now that we have a space to do them.

Update on DS Visual Art

Well it’s been a while since we’ve posted anything here on our blog. One of the main reasons for this is we moved and as part of the move are building out a photography studio space.

While we’ve had studio space in the past it’s always felt very temporary, this new space is shaping up to be a very versatile space. We’re looking forward to it’s completion which we’re thinking should be Winter of ’19.

In addition being able to provide studio portrait photography, we’ll be better equipped to do product photography and creative shots. Oh and one thing that I forgot to mention is we’ll be able to do some indoor vehicle photography as well.

That’s about it for the update. Thanks for sticking with us and stay tuned for more updates.

Doug & Sharon

Raging water to misty fog

You’ve seen those photographs, you know the ones where rough waters are somehow transformed into a smooth misty fog. As discussed in previous posts we have talked about how using a slower shutter speed can be used to blur fast moving subjects, but depending on the time of day this can be difficult…or can it?

During our recent trip to Kauai, HI, Sharon and I had the opportunity to do some of this type of photography. With numerous beaches and available waterfalls we set out to capture this type of images often during the daylight hours. In order to do this we used a “10 stop filter”, specifically the Ice 77mm ND1000 Solid Neutral Density 3.0 Filter (10-Stop) from B&H Photo

It is worth saying that this technique doesn’t necessarily suit every situation. That said, let’s take a look at some different shots.

First let’s take a look at Wailua Falls (location used during filming of the TV show Fantasy Island).

Both of the photographs were taken at approximately 12:50 p.m. in the afternoon. The first image was taken at ISO 31, 1/125 of a sec at f/8.0 As you can see in the image because of the slower shutter speed there is still some softness in the water but there are still some details. For the second shot the following settings were used in addition to the filter (ISO 31, 30 secs at f/10.0).

As you can see in the images, using this filter we’re able to reduce the shutter speed significantly thereby softening details of the water. Let’s take a look at another example.

The next location was near Poi’pu Beach on the island’s South Shore. We were on location to do some sunset photography, but arrived a bit early so it was a perfect chance to use the 10 stop filter.

Again these images were taken during the same period of time, around 7:20 p.m.. Obviously the waves weren’t exactly the same, however you get the idea.

Settings for first image – ISO 31, 1/60 of a sec at f/13

Settings for second image – ISO 31, 30 sec at f/10

Notice how the waves that were several feet in height are reduced to nothing more than a slight mist around the rocky shore. This relatively inexpensive filter opens up a whole new look for your photographs.

Now the details:

A 10 stop Neutral Density filter is almost completely black making in nearly impossible to see through to focus. The best thing to do when using this type of filter is to set your lens (or camera) to Manual focus mode.

With the camera on a tripod compose your image in the viewfinder and making sure that you’ve focused the image. Determine your shutter speed and aperture for proper exposure without the filter. Using a 10 stop filter calculator determine your new shutter speed to be used with the filter and set your camera to that setting.

Because you’re going to be shooting at very long shutter speed there are another thing to pay attention to in order to reduce unwanted blurring, activating the shutter. When shooting long exposures at a minimum you should use the self-timer to actuate the shutter.

A better option is to use a shutter release cable or wireless shutter release. To further reduce any potential movement, if your camera has it, you can use what’s called the Mirror Up or Mup mode in conjunction with your shutter release. The first press of the button locks the mirror up. It isn’t until you press the button again that the shutter activates, thereby limiting any vibrations from the shutter.

So that pretty much wraps it up. For a small cost you too can be out there taming those raging waters and creating some cool effects in your photos. Thanks for checking us out and hope you continue to follow us here.


Pricing now available on our site

As indicated in our previous post, we at DS Visual Art have listened to you our customers. We now have added Portrait pricing as well as pricing for a variety of mediums for our gallery photographs. Head over to www.dsvisualart.com today to check them out and as always thanks for your feedback.

Change to services

As times change so must businesses. In the past DS Visual Art has not offered digital images files. There were a number of reasons for this decision. However, after heavy consideration of feedback received from our customers we have decided to begin offering digital image files with each of our packages.

This change is our way of meeting the needs of our customers. We appreciate the feedback and are always looking for the best way to serve you.

What we strive to capture during a session

When doing photography there are a lot of factors to consider.  Lighting, environment, depth-of-field and the list goes on and on.  However the key factor is the subject being photographed.

For this post let’s concentrate on portrait photography.  Before even picking up a camera Sharon and I work with the customer to determine what type of photograph they are looking for.  After all, the session is about them and not so much about what we want as photographers.

This leads to discussions about things such as location, casual vs. formal, etc.  Having these conversations before the shoot help establish a rapport between us and the customer.

“Natural” look

One thing that I’ve always hated about portrait photographs is they generally seem so staged and unnatural.  So may times when being photographed people are told to “SMILE” or “Say Cheese”.  The only thing that this often leads to is look that is not natural for some people.  I personally have a difficult time smiling for pictures and when I try to force a smile it’s obvious (at least to me) that it was forced.

So what is our approach to combat the unnatural look?  This too goes back to establishing relationships early in the session.  Let’s face it there are people out there that are comfortable in front of a camera, but I would venture to say that the number is smaller than you think.  So for the rest of us a softer approach is required.

We do our best to put the subject at ease by having light, casual conversation with them.  It’s amazing how just learning a little bit about your subject and genuinely engaging in conversation about them can help reduce the tension of a photoshoot.

The end goal

All of the preparation leading up to this point to achieve the ultimate “end goal” an image that the captures the subject “naturally” and that the customer will cherish forever.  I can’t state it any clearer than that.

Sure there are many factors that make up a quality image, however those are all for not if you did a poor job of capturing the main subject.  That is why Sharon and I pay particular attention to making the subject comfortable.  From there we use our knowledge of photography to capture the best quality image.

Our passion

Photography is a passion for us not a hobby.  We love getting behind the camera to share our world as well as helping people document times in their lives.  We hope that you’ve enjoyed this article.  Feel free to share it with your friends and family, along with checking out our main site DS Visual Art.  There you can view some our portrait work or purchase prints from our many galleries.

Thanks for joining us on this journey and we hope to hear from you soon.

Doug