Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 7: Safe arrival back in Vancouver and fun with Pocketwizards!

We arrived safely back in Vancouver. I had been anticipating this moment for a while: not so much because I had been dying to come home but because I had been gearing up to take an interesting photograph of Erich and Karen with the train. Hey - Photographers think of crazy ideas when they have nothing better to do on a 16 hour train ride!

Now first some background: This was the first major trip I had taken without taking an SLR with me. On almost all previous trips, I had always brought along an SLR, and a sometimes with dizzying array of lenses. But when you're trying to travel light (read: married with kids), this doesn't work so well.

So this time, I brought along a Canon G9 point-and-shoot, a flash, two pocketwizards, and a compact light stand. Comparatively speaking, this was very light gear inspired by this Strobist article. The great thing about this setup was that it allowed me to take both interesting lit or available light photographs without the overhead of a lot of equipment. The very configurable G9 combined with the relatively fast f2.8 lens work well to suit any serious amateur or professional photographer wanting to travel light. Combine this with the power of a 580EX and the range of pocketwizard remote triggers and you have a great setup.

I digress. Back to what I had been dying to do. I had been anticipating that we would have decent morning light when we arrived back - a necessary requirement to making this photo work. (I had actually tried this same photo the night we left, but did not have sufficient available light to balance properly.)

With the train safely back at the station, I asked one of the train attendants whether it would be okay if we stayed an extra minute while I took a photo. I quickly handed Karen a slaved flash on pocketwizard mounted on a light stand. She placed it at the same position as one of the overhead reading lights inside the train. I guessed at the power setting, figuring I would adjust it by asking Karen to vary the distance via walkie-talkie. I went outside the train and took a photo. The result was this photo where you have dark window upon dark window with the exception of one lit (as if by reading light). It's simple, but illustrates the power of what one can do with a light setup like this.

Strobist Info: Canon G9 @ f/5.6, 1/30, ISO 400, Flash set to 1/8th power.

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