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"This magnificent speedlight produced a great light source"

A few years ago I wrote a book on speedlight usage called “One Light Flash”. At the time I wrote it I was using a couple of Nikon SB800's and was intrigued by the Off Camera Flash possibilities the Nikon system offered. Then I got my first step of Elinchrom Quadra's and only ever used the speedlights on camera at weddings for the next ten years or so.

At the Photography Show this year I decided to update my falling apart SB800 and decided on the Modus 600RT. Good reviews and recommendations from my friends at The Flash Centre swung the deal and I walked out of the show with a shiny new speedlight. Unfortunately circumstances conspired against me and it was only when on tour in Portugal this September that I got the chance to put it to use in anger.

First impressions were extremely favourable. It's a chunky unit that feels substancial in the hand and well made. Buttons on the back are all spaced out and easy to press, no using a finger nail or pen tip to make them work here. The screen is big and best of all the battery is a proper rechargeable lithium one rather than a collection of AA's. Better for the environment and much better longevity when shooting. Apart from that it does everything else you'd expect from a high end speedlight. Tilt and turn head. Pull out white card and wide diffuser. High speed sync, manual and TTL modes, zoomable flash head. The thing is, this unit does them all, really rather well. It's superb and I really can't find fault.

When I wrote the book I was using a Nikon D300 and thought it fantastic. I upgraded last year to a D850 and straight away Nikon takes away the advantage of the pop up flash to control the speedlight off camera. No pop up on the D850. Now that's not always a problem and the Modus does have a slave cell and wireless capability so you can trigger it off camera. For my tests in Portugal however I decided to use it mainly as an on camera unit. Here are a few of my results.

Early one morning I managed to convince model, Sophie Canare, to get out of her bed at 0600 for the sunrise. Dressed in a checkerboard suit reminiscent of Freddie Mercury in his hey day she jumped up on a low wall and started strutting her stuff with the sunrising behind her. I took a meter reading from the sky in Manual and came back with 1/400s at ISO 400 and f1.8 on a 50mm lens. I felt reticent about using the TTL (I've been a Quadra user for years remember and so tested at 1/32 power. Not bad and a little adjustment got it spot on. I zoomed the head to 80mm as I didn't want light splashing all around and shot a beautiful series. The recycle time was lightening quick and didn't affect the pace of the shoot at all. The on axis flash is perfect for this high gloss, glamour type of look.

 

As the sun rose higher we changed the look to a black dress and wanted an exotic type feel to the images. I chose a low vantage point which put the palm trees in the background. The sun was still quite weak at this point and coming from camera right across the team. Again I metered for the background, got that looking pretty and this time allowed the flash to work things out for itself on iTTL mode. I was working further back on the 70-200mm lens at f2.8 ISO 400 and 1/2500s I added one stop of power to the TTL and it gave me just the look I wanted. Again even working at high power the recycle time was phenomenal.

 


The final look we wanted was Sophie wearing some sports clothing from one of her sponsors, Pineapple Clothing. For the first part I put the sun behind her and used TTL flash only to fill from the front. Again I zoomed the head right in to make sure it only hit her and didn't eliminate the shadows on the floor or light the background. TTL did a fantastic job.

I then moved over the road and with Sophie in full sun just added the TTL blast of light to lift any shadows. Movement was frozen perfectly.

 

Finally I wanted to use the street scene to our advantage and produce something a little cinematic looking. I had the sun coming in behind Sophie once again to produce back lighting. Metered from the background to get the street and some detail in the sky. Then I set the flash on iTTL plus 2 stops and it worked beautifully.


I love my flash off camera and will never trade in my Elinchroms. However if this shoot proved anything it's that on camera, on axis flash is not to be ignored. This magnificent speedlight produced a great light source. Even better I noticed that the light quality and output is consistent right to the end of the battery, something that was never possible on AA's. If you're looking for great power and versatility, backed up by build quality and good design, put one of these in your bag.

John Denton FSWPP(hon)
www.jands.johndentontraining.com
Model – Sophie Canare
Instagram JohnDentonPhoto SophieCActress

 

About the photographer, John Denton

 

If you come on a photography workshop what do you expect?

A mathematician to guide you through? A carer to the elderly? A Chef? A Police Officer?

John has been all of these and it was whilst managing a Helicopter Unit that he harnessed his love for photography with the commitment to go full time in the business.

That was back in 2003.

Since then John has rapidly been accepted into the upper echelons of world photography. He has sold out workshops across Europe as well as back at his Birmingham Studio.

John's first book, "One Light Flash" was published in 2011 and has sold out in numerous English and Foreign Language translations.

It is his belief that no photographer can truly understand the art of photographing people without photographing Nudes.

To pose and light a body without any other obstacles will make you a better photographer of brides, models, lifestylers, boudoir clients.....

His main passion though is light.. If you understand light you will get better images, regardless of how they are styled.

It is the essentials of photography that delight John. That has been recognised by numerous companies embracing him as a Brand Ambassador. Elinchrom and The Flash Centre provide his lighting and support workshops. Permajet have honoured him as an ambassador for their papers and inks.

In 2010 he was named a Fellow of the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers. In 2012 he was honoured with a Master of Photography Award from the same Society, In 2015 he was invited to judge and present at WPPI in Las Vegas.
He'll be back there in February 2019.

In 2018 he set himself the challenge of working with one principal model, Sophie Canare, throughout the 12 months and on tour around the world. That body of work is to be published in a book in early 2019.

It's John's contention that if we're all in it together............we'll all succeed. Join him.

You can follow his work by subscribing to his blog www.jands.johndentontraining.com and following on Instagram @johndentonphoto and @sophiecactress.

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