Yongnuo YN560-III

Here’s the post about my expensive toys. I’ve had them for a few days now and pretty much just did a lot of experimentation with them. I bought the Yongnuo YN560-III Speedlite and the Yongnuo RF-603c for Canon cameras (make sure you get the right one; they have different letter designations for different camera models). I already have a Minolta Auto 200x that I’ve been using, but it’s pretty hard to use as an off-camera flash. That’s what the RF-603s are for. Let’s start off with the big one – coming in at about $70, the Yongnuo YN560 has zooming and a few different modes: manual, rx, and the two slave modes. It also has an LCD panel, power options, and a swiveling head with a white card and diffuser cleverly hidden. Keep in mind that I haven’t spent too much time with it, but this is what I do know:

  • The Yongnuo comes with a carry case that protects the thing; it’s a nice touch and velcros shut so that everything is nice and snug.Carry Case
  • The head swivels pretty far to the left and right and there are marks that tell you how many degrees you’ve turned it. It’s pretty useful and an upgrade to my Minolta, which is fixed. I can dangle the Yongnuo on a ledge and swivel the head to achieve the lighting that I want.Swivel
  • The built-in bounce card and diffuser work as they should and spread out the light, preventing it from being way too harsh and resulting in a nice, even amount of light.Bounce Card
  • The LCD screen is useful and the buttons feel great to the touch. A backlight makes it easy for seeing at night. I only needed the manual to set up the custom functions and change the channel for the receivers. Everything else from the power selection to the zoom is pretty much self-explanatory.LCD In Use

If you’ve ever used a manual flash before, you know how it goes. The Yongnuo is a great tool and works beautifully. The options are simple and it pairs well with my RF-603s. The RF-603s are simple wireless flash triggers that come as an identical pair with a shutter connect cable. They both have a hot shoe, on/off switch, and shutter button. After you connect the shutter cable to the camera, you can do some remote shooting if you want.

I pretty much set up my own mini studio with several pieces of paper and I was surprised by the results. I went with one piece of white printer paper on the table, one for the back, and one for each side. I connected one RF-603 to my Minolta flash and one to my camera. Then I turned the Yongnuo flash to RX mode,  which makes for two flashes that I can fire off-camera; one on the left and one on the right. So far it’s been a great experience. Sometimes I’ll elevate one of the flashes if I’m shooting pictures of, let’s say, the iguana. It’s all experimentation from now on and I’m looking forward to learning some new tricks. Hopefully the tests shots below make the cut.


Wood Texture

Wood TextureI took this picture at Wood Line in the Presidio. I love the texture of wood and it looks great in black and white. I didn’t know what to make of it at first because I was experimenting. I took out my Minolta flash unit, set my camera on ISO 100, a high f-stop, and a shutter speed of 0.3″ and snapped away. That’s why you can see the shadows in the crack: it’s my flash firing. That was my light source. 0.3″ is about the quickest I can manually sync a shutter release and a test fire on my flash if it isn’t mounted on the hot-shoe. I’m getting the hang of firing the flash off-camera and I want to use it more.


Walking Stick

Walking StickIt has taken me a while, but I’ve finally found a suitable walking stick for myself. It’s pretty sturdy and so I took it upon myself to get all the bark off to eliminate splinters. All it took was one sharp knife and a place to work. It took me a good 2+ hours, but I’d say it was worth it. I took this picture within in first 10 minutes of starting to work on it and used my Minolta Auto 200x flash unit as the light source from the front. Again, my room is ultra dark and not suitable for taking pictures. However, I was surprised at how well my huge Rubbermaid container doubles as a beautiful background. Besides the little logo peeking out from under the walking stick, it came out all right. I might have to start using bark and natural looking objects as backgrounds and foils for product photography. Learn something new every single day. ‘Tis true.


Danny Yu

Experiments in flash

Experiments in flash


I’ve been carrying my Minolta Auto 200x, a dated manual flash for old SLR Minoltas, in my bag for a while. Since I don’t have too much practice with using the flash unattached to my camera, I’ve been doing it over and over on random things and people. This time I tried it on a friend in my house, a low light setting. I set the flash on lo, the ISO to 100, a shutter speed to 0.3″, and an aperture of f/20. If you can’t tell, I held the flash unit away from the camera, coming from the left side. Worked like a charm. After a bit of touchup in Lightroom and Photoshop, I got this dramatic black and white photograph.

Experiments with Flash

In this fast-paced digital age, I’m sad to admit that I’ve neglected my film camera. I can’t stand the fact that I have to go out and get my film developed and spend money on it. On top of that, in order to share the photos online, I have to go through and digitize them or spend even more money and have them put on a CD or emailed to me. Anyway, I was playing around with an SLR my father passed down to me, a Minolta XG-7 with most of the accessories. I never knew the old man was so into photography. The Minolta came bundled with a telephoto converter and a shutter release cable as well as an external flash unit. With the type of film I use, I take full advantage of the flash. However, when it comes to my Canon t2i, I’m not comfortable using flash because I don’t have any practice with it. I can shift the sensitivity up and down to my liking and playing around with flash just becomes an unnecessary hassle.

I got really bored one day and decided to marry my Minolta Auto 200x flash unit to my t2i. Turns out they play pretty well with each other. So for the past few days, I’ve been experimenting with the flash unit and taking pictures in my room. That’s a pretty bold statement because my room is pretty dark and I often have to pump the ISO well above my comfort zone.

A little bit about what I’m working with here:

  • It’s battery operated with auto and manual settings with hi and lo modes.
  • It has a red test button (it’ll come into play later on and I love this feature).
  • There’s a simple detachable flash diffuser/softener.
  • It has a rotating dial so you can get all your manual settings just right.

Somewhere along the way, I figured out that the Minolta will work at speeds up to 1/320 in manual mode. I kept snapping away with the external flash mounted right on the hot-shoe built  into the t2i. Then I realized I have a flash bracket mount with two extra hot-shoes in both a vertical and horizontal orientation. Me being me, I went ahead and experimented with these three variations to see how the lighting changed. Now, flash photography is something I have to experiment more with and use on at least a weekly basis. Here are my results from the flash bracket test:

  1. Mounting the Minolta Auto 200x on the built-in Canon hot-shoe gave me pretty harsh lighting. While this can be useful in some situations, I don’t envision myself using this option after seeing my other alternatives.
  2. Putting the flash on the bracket to the left side and vertical really brightens everything up and achieves the effect of bouncing the flash. It isn’t as harsh because the light is off to one side, but stil manages to brighten everything up. This has got to be the most pleasing lighting and the most effective. I would use this orientation in day to day picture-taking if I wanted to use flash.
  3. My favorite effect is achieved with the flash on the bracket in a horizontal position. This puts the flash quite a ways from the subject and away from the lens, providing what seems to be almost ambient light. It also creates dramatic shadows and adds a great tone to the photos. I prefer this one for artistic shots.

As a note, when I had the flash on the bracket, I had to manually fire the flash using the red test button. I had a very hard time getting the timing right until I dropped down to about 0″3. That gave me enough time to hear the shutter going and fire the flash, with some time for error. This worked out because even though I was a bit shaky, the bright flash froze motion.

I also decided to play with motion and got a cool effect that I wasn’t anticipating. I went ahead and pressed the shutter release and panned the camera. Just as I was over my intended subject, I fired the flash manually. The result looks almost like a double exposure because of the movement and the color, while the flash froze and somewhat stabilized exactly where I was pointed. Overall, a successful flash experiment.

The effect of camera movement with flash

The effect of camera movement with flash

Here are a few photographs I took in my room using the flash unit. They definitely wouldn’t have come out this way without the flash. If you want to pick up the bracket I have, you can find it here on Amazon for $9.

I’ll leave you with a few photos I took in my room using flash.

After this post, I took a few more pictures. This time I didn’t mount the flash to anything and held it by hand, positioning it willynilly. As long as I held the camera relatively still and kept the shutter at 0″3, I got great shots. Holding the flash is going to give me a lot of versatility going forward.