The Wireless Lighting Kit At Work: Trick or Treat

This whole setup is a a great way to shoot individual portraits of the neighbor kids. What a nice opportunity to give the gift of photography.

This whole setup is a a great way to shoot individual portraits of the neighbor kids. What a nice opportunity to give the gift of photography.

Someone posted on our Facebook page and suggested that the best way to photograph your own trick-or-treaters was to do a dry run at your own front door from the perspective of of a potential victim/candy supplier. We tried to hunt down this tipster and luckily Lori Hagen revealed herself as the source of this wonderful tip. Thanks Lori! She basically suggests that you hear a knock on your own door, you open it—hey, it’s your kids trick or treating!—what luck, you happen to have your camera in your hand! You shoot a picture! This made a lot of sense; it gets a lot of the kinks worked.

I’m putting a twist on the idea. I’m mounting my wireless flash unit above the door as a light source. Almost all of the kids we get at our door are the neighbor kids, so it’s a nice opportunity to photograph them and email the neighbors some photos.

Yes, I could have taken pictures with the existing 75 watt light bulb above our front door, but the flash makes things professional studio sharp and that’s a lot of fun. The picture are so sharp for two reasons:

1. The flash puts out a lot of light compared to the regular old light bulb so you get to use a smaller f-stop and therefore have more depth-of-field, but that’s not the main reason.

2. A flash has a very short “flash duration”. It’s around 2000th of a second. That will freeze a lot squirmy cowboys and ballerinas in their tracks and leaps.

I covered the light with a piece of white Tupperware as a diffuser—it’s softens the shadows a bit —and wedged a piece of foam rubber in there to hold it all together. I hung it from the door closing device and secured it with a rubber band. It was all very high-tech. (Well, it was slightly high-tech. The flash in my kit used the wireless synch device I have in my lighting kit. There’s a transmitter on the camera and a receiver on the flash. No wires; beautiful.)

I experimented a bit to find the right place for the kids to stand. If they were directly under the light the shadows from their hats were too extreme. It helped a bit to have them move back and keep their chins up.

I have to say that the results of this were every bit as good as I hoped they would be. I was rather proud of myself.

I hung the wireless flash above the doorway from the door closing spring. No wires between the flash and the camera made the whole thing possible.

I hung the wireless flash above the doorway from the door closing spring. No wires between the flash and the camera made the whole thing possible.

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