Photo by Dan Bracaglia
ExpoImaging’s second generation ring light flash modifier is a winner
What Is It:Note: If video does not load, reload the page.
The ExpoImaging Ray Flash 2 is a light-modifer that affixes to most speedlights and mimics the traditional ring light-look. It’s an update to the original Ray Flash, which has been on the market for several years.
Why Does It Matter:
Ring lights produce a dramatic and often easy-to-identify look that many fashion photographers love. It’s a very specific effect, though, so buying a dedicated ring light can be over kill. Even the Paul C. Buff dedicated mono-ring light checks in at $400. The Ray Flash 2, at $140, is an inexpensive alternative, which is important for a modifier that likely won’t get as much use as an umbrella or a soft box.
How Does It Work:
A spring-loaded clamp grabs onto the head of your flash and holds securely in place. It couldn’t be simpler to attach. The light from your flash unit is channeled through the interior prisms and out around your lens.
The unit on the left is the original, the one on the right is the new version. The new version comes in two sizes, we tested the larger size.
How Does It Compare:
I have owned the original Ray Flash for two years, and virtually every downside of the first generation has been resolved.
The original Ray Flash came in several models, each of which was only compatible with a certain flash. You may notice that in the comparison photo above, the original Ray Flash has been modified around the mount. This was because I originally bought it for a Nikon SB-600, which died, and in order to use it with any of my other flashes, I had to saw it apart.
With the second iteration, ExpoImaging solved this problem by making the mounting mechanism universal for all flash heads. We tried mounting it to a variety of flashes, both large and small, and found no issues. It should be noted that while I did put a bit of gaffers tape on the unit just be sure it wouldn’t slip off, we also tried shaking a flash vigorously with the unit affixed, and still found it to hold on tight.
The images on the left was shot with the Ray Flash 2, the one on the right with the original model. Note: Both were shot using the same rig and power output settings.
The Ray Flash 2 is also made of a stronger more durable plastic, meaning if you drop it from a reasonable height, it should be able to survive. But, despite the added durability, version two is actually thinner than its predecessor.
Another advantage is the new model comes in two sizes, so whether you have a bulky pro-level or a standard DSLR (or an interchangeable-lens compact camera) you’re covered. The physical dimensions of the ring portion on the two models are actually the same, it’s the distance between the mount and ring that varies. Even better, that space is adjustable; the smaller model offers a range of 6.3-6.9” while the larger one offers a range of 6.9-7.5”. You can see a demonstration of how those adjustments work in the video above.
The image on the left was shot with the Ray Flash 2, the image on the right was shot with the original model.
Another interesting note: Compared to the original model, the Ray Flash 2 is 2.4 oz. heavier, coming in at 16oz.; it’s outer diameter is about 5” wider too.
From our initial field test (see the side-by-sides above) the Ray Flash 2 appears to be slightly more efficient at channeling light. To make sure, I set up a quick test. We set a light meter exactly 3 feet away from a Lumopro LP-180 flash unit, set to full power at bother 24mm and 50mm. I then set our lightmeter to ISO 100 1/60 sec and tested each Ray Flash unit, giving the flash 30 seconds between each firing to charge back up.
At 50mm, the Ray Flash 2 clocked in at f/11.4, f/11.3 and f/11.4 in our three times firing. The orginal Ray Flash clocked in at f/11.2 all three times. Likewise, with the flash output set to 24mm, the Ray Flash 2 clocked in at f/11.2, f/11.2 and f/11.3 while the orginal model hit f/11.1 each time. The difference isn’t much, but it’s there.
This image demonstrates the effects of the Ray Flash 2’s catch light in the eye of a subject. This photo was shot vertically, and from this zoomed-in view of the eye, it’s pretty clear that the light doesn’t go all the way around the ring.
For some, the $140 price tag may seem a bit steep, especially when you can get a generic ring-light adapter on eBay for less than $50, but the extra money here is paying for more efficient light transmission, sturdier construction, and a company that will actually give you customer service should you need it. That’s a pipe dream for most eBay sellers.
Another disavantage of the Ray Flash 2 is that the light is not perfectly distrubuted, as the above image shows. This can mean a less than perfectly-circular catch light in the eye, but that’s likely going to be true with most adapters.
And while the Ray Flash 2 does seem more efficient than its predecessor, it’s still never going to be able to compete with a dedicated monolight version of a ring light. If you need a lot of power for something like a photo booth or an outdoor portrait session, you might need something that plugs in.
What Is This Thing?
The Ray Flash 2 comes with a peculiar black rubber loop (see above). It took me a second to figure out what it is for, but it’s use is quite brilliant. You essentially put it in the joint of your flash head, and use it to prop up the Ray Flash 2 Unit so that it doesn’t sag down. The rubber loop has 3 different thicknesses too, so you can get it just right.
The Ray Flash 2 is a solid improvement on the already very popular original Ray Flash, which up until now, I considered to be the best-in-class when it came to ring light-like modifiers. Compared to other models like the Orbis Ring Flash, the simplistic mounting solution alone is enough to give it a substantial edge. So if you are in the market for a solid ring-light flash accessory, and don’t mind throwing down a bit of cash, look no further than the Ray Flash 2.
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Artist whose provocative works explored feminist issues through photography, film and text
The titles of Alexis Hunter’s works of art say it all: Approach to Fear; Voyeurism; Violence: Destruction of Evidence; Identity Crisis; Effeminacy; Sexual Warfare; Masculinisation of Society; Oh No!; Dialogue with a Rapist. These were the ideas and themes that preoccupied Alexis, who has died of motor neurone disease aged 65, and that she explored from the 1970s onwards in a series of conceptual works using photography, film and text.
Finding that “it was too hard to be a feminist artist on your own; the criticism was too great to bear”, in 1972 she joined the Artists Union Women’s Workshop in London, alongside the feminist photographers and film-makers Tina Keane, Mary Kelly, Margaret Harrison and Annabel Nicolson.
Alexis had come across the use of contact sheets in the work of the US conceptualist Douglas Huebler. She continued to work in series of photographs. Her work was the most provoking at the almost all-female 1978 Hayward Annual. The combined influence of advertising storyboards, documentary, politics and feminism can be seen in the Object Series, 1974-75, portraying men as sex objects, in leather trousers and naked from the waist up. In one image, the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center are strategically sited as a phallic image. In the Sexual Rapport Series, 1972-76, she stamped her street photographs of men: “Yes”, “No” or “Maybe”.
Her long series Approaches to Fear featured her own bejewelled hands, with painted nails, caressing oil-soaked motorbike engines and high-heeled silver platform ankle-strap shoes. The critic Lucy Lippard noted: “Fetishism and a hint of S&M lurk just beneath the surfaces of Hunter’s photographs … Her rage at capitalism is focused upon the mass media which have, as Judith Williamson puts it, been ‘selling us ourselves’ for profit.”
Alexis was born in Auckland, New Zealand. Her parents Joan (nee Atthill) and Jack had moved there from Australia with their confectionery firm Sweetacres. They loved the New Zealand bush, Joan was an amateur archaeologist and they settled in Titirangi, near Auckland. Alexis wrote: “I grew up in an area favoured by … immigrants from Holland, Germany and Sweden. They brought ideas of politics, sexual diversity, interest in other cultures and importance of artistic work to the small village area of Titirangi.”
She attended Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland (1966-69), where she was influenced by the socialist ideas of her tutor, the painter Colin McCahon. She travelled to London in 1972 to join her twin sister Alyson, a photographer, and her partner Darcy Lange, the artist and documentary photographer and film-maker. To earn a living, Alexis worked in advertising, commercial film and animation, including on Raymond Briggs’s The Snowman (1982).
I did not see her work for some years after the Hayward show, until the exhibition Impossible Document: Photography and Conceptual Art in Britain 1966-1976 at the Camerawork gallery, London, in 1997. She told John Roberts, its curator: “It was the way conceptual art emphasised and utilised the perception of the viewer that was so useful to feminist artists. It was a way of connecting directly to other women.”
After that, every time I saw her, we laughed and said: “Must do a show.” In 2006, I curated, and edited the catalogue for, Alexis Hunter Radical Feminism in the 1970s for the Norwich University of the Arts Gallery, which we then took to the Bunkier Sztuki gallery in Krakow.
Alexis always said she was not anti-men but anti-patriarchy. This she defined as the formation of power within groups of men to exclude women, both economically and politically. Sexual Warfare (1975) features her hands holding the book How to Make It in a Man’s World. Alexis always retained her sense of humour. In an interview published in Le Monde in 2013, she said: “I think feminism is too radical, even for liberalism.”
In 2013, Alexis’s Approach to Fear XIII: Pain – Destruction of Cause 1977, showing the hands burning those silver shoes, was purchased by Tate. She was included in WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in 2007. Recently her work has been shown by the Richard Saltoun gallery in London and the Whitespace gallery, Auckland.
In 1986 she married Baxter Mitchell. Together they owned the Falcon pub in Camden Town, north London, one of the great indie music venues of the late 1980s and 90s, where Pulp, Blur and Oasis played. She dealt with her diagnosis of motor neurone disease in as “unfazed” a manner as she could, latterly communicating via an electronic notepad.
She is survived by Baxter, her mother, and two sisters, Linley and Alyson.
• Alexis Jan Atthill Hunter, artist, born 4 November 1948; died 24 February 2014theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
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But is it really any better than formatting in-camer or on your computer?
The SD Association is the governing body behind the SD card standard, and all the countless super-popular variants like the SDHC, SDXC and all the micro versions. But did you know the SD Association offers its own SD card formatter—and it recommends that you use it over anything else?
SLR Lounge recently did a post on the formatter, which we had never encountered before. The manual for the application (available for both Windows and Mac OS X) says:
The SD Formatter formats SD/SDHC/SDXC Cards optimizing with these card’s performance etc.. It is strongly recommended to use the SD Formatter to format SD/SDHC/SDXC Cards rather than using formatting tools provided with operating systems. In general, formatting tools provided with operating systems can format various storage media including SD/SDHC/SDXC Cards, but it may not be optimized for SD/SDHC/SDXC Cards and it may result in lower performance than using the SD Formatter.
We’re really curious about how much more effective this could be than the included tools in your OS (like Mac’s Disk Utility), or compared to an in-camera formatter, or one created by the card’s own manufacturer. Theoretically, each should have it’s own advantages. If you use the one created by the manufacturer of the card, it should be the one best designed for that specific brand. If you use the one in your camera, it’s probably the best way to ensure folder hierarchies and configuration files are set up correctly.
The SD Association thinks that using its specific formatter should ensure the best performance possible for your card, and we imagine it might be able to do a base level format better than some other applications. But we’re curious to know what you use to format your SD cards, and why?
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Four-time Iditarod winner Jeff King traverses the stunning Alaskan landscape during the 77-mile last leg of the 2014 race
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What was the Flickr Collection will transition to being called “Moment”
Since 2009, Getty and Flickr have had a partnership allowing people to easily license their Flickr images through Getty, and hopefully get a bit of money for their efforts. Now, Getty has contacted contributors to inform them that this relationship is ending, but that those with images on its service will continue to be supported.
For now, the Flickr collection is still up, as are instructions on how to join it—and Flickr Select seems to still be running. But Getty sent out an email to contributors, informing them that “we provided notice to terminate our existing agreement with Flickr.” What was Flickr collection will now form the basis of a new collection, called “Moment”, which will have an accompanying mobile app. Images will have to be uploaded directly to Getty, rather than through Flickr, but for those who already have images on Getty, the email assures ” Your current agreement with Getty Images remains the same and agreements will NOT be terminated by us as a result of this change, no matter how few images you have on gettyimages.com.”
We reached out to Getty Images to comment on the change, and will update the piece if and when they decide to respond.
Here is the text of the email, reproduced in full, courtesy of DPReview.
Flickr Partnership Ends, Getty Images’ Commitment to Contributors
we are announcing that we provided notice to terminate our existing agreement with Flickr. Our original agreement reached its end, and while we continue to be open to working with Yahoo!/Flickr, we have not agreed to a new agreement at this time.
Your status as a contributor to Getty Images is unchanged by this news. Your current agreement with Getty Images remains the same and agreements will NOT be terminated by us as a result of this change, no matter how few images you have on gettyimages.com.
For the last 5 years we’ve been very proud to provide a global platform for the work of Flickr artists, celebrating their originality and talent with our customers around the world. Those of us who are directly involved with the Flickr collection have thoroughly enjoyed and been inspired by our experience working within the Flickr community. Built to represent the best in authentic, spontaneous photography selected through social sharing, Getty Image’s Flickr collection has grown to be a tremendous success.
We have never been more committed than we are now to expanding on what we’ve started together.
What Will Change? Here are some highlights - with details to follow in the coming days and weeks:
- Welcome to Moment: The Flickr Collection will form the basis of a new house collection called Moment.
- Moment Mobile: Our new Moment-Mobile App provides another way for you to participate by submitting images shot on your mobile device. All Flickr collection contributors will be invited. (iOs only for now-Andriod to come). We are very pleased with the launch and early results from our Moment App, which is now being used by 3,500 contributors from 100 countries who have so far have submitted more than 30,000 images through the app.
- Curators: Flickr curators will continue and expand their role in identifying the best social content from a wider range of sources which, alongside our Moment App, will further grow our Moment collections.
- The Upload Portal you are already familiar with will be updated to accommodate a slightly different workflow (see below) but your log-in will remain the same.
- You will be in control. Since we will not be using the systems built for the Flickr partnership, we will no longer be searching and browsing through photostreams or Artist Picks looking for images and inviting them. Instead, you will be using the same procedure as all our other Getty and iStock contributors and submitting full-sized, captioned and released images to us for review and selection.
- Support: Communication and daily guidance will continue via our Getty Images Contributor Community website and forum. We will be sending out a welcome e-mail containing the URL and your log-in credentials. These emails will begin shortly and continue over the next few weeks until everyone is covered.
- Creative Research: You will have access to our proprietary research briefs on an ongoing basis.
- Range of Products: You will have access to be reviewed for submissions to our other collections where appropriate including editorial, video, and Photos.com — our new platform for wall décor, print sales, and more.
What should you do?
Please watch for more news and information in our Getty Images Contributors Group on Flickr and watch for important emails.
Check your Contact information! Please make sure the e-mail address and other contact information we have for you is up to date so we can include you in our communications. You can do this by logging in to the Upload Portal […] and clicking on ‘Update your profile’ in the ‘Account Management’ section.
Thanks you for all of your wonderful images and support over the past five years! We look forward to moving ahead with Moment, and with each and every one of you.
The Getty Images Creative Team
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The Guardian’s picture editors bring you a selection of the best photographs from around the world
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A photograph of the first moments of your child’s life, or the agonies of labour, could be a precious memento of a very special time. But then again, the results might not be pretty
When I first read a report about birth photography, my first reaction was simply “WTF? NO.” What kind of narcissist would want a stranger in the room, clicking away on a camera as they were in the throes of labour? “Now breathe, breathe, breathe … and POSE!” And wait – who are the people doing the photography? Former war photographers looking for a new challenge? Unemployed horror film directors, avoiding the jobcentre?
Yet according to parenting website babycentre.co.uk, it’s a growing trend, with 20% of mums or pregnant women polled on the site saying that they would consider, or have already hired, a professional to take snaps at their birth.
According to Becky Williams, a professional birth photographer at TummyToToddler.co.uk, it’s less invasive and, well, gory, than you might first think. “More people have realised that birth photography isn’t what they had originally imagined, and the pictures created are tasteful and precious, capturing the most intimate and special moments, such as the baby’s first breath or the first skin-to-skin contact between the mother and her baby.”
Certainly, looking at some of the pictures on Williams’s site, it seems that rather than getting down the business end, the photos are very tasteful: a mother mildly flushed, but euphoric, a smattering of light perspiration dotting her forehead; another woman in labour reclining on her hospital bed, while a kindly midwife listens to the baby’s heartbeat.
All very nice, but this doesn’t exactly mesh with my (admittedly, vague) memories of giving birth. If someone had taken photos of me during labour they would have come away with snaps of whey-faced exhaustion, interspersed with increasingly tortured gurning. Never mind reclining in a hospital bed, instead envision me squatting, naked and ungainly, next to a toilet bowl. And who could forget the shocking moment when my waters broke - an epic tidal wave surging out from between my thighs.
That aside, I’m not actually averse to the idea of being photographed during labour – it would just have to be a hardened documentary photographer, someone akin to Dorothea Lange or Don McCullin, because I wouldn’t be posing, they’d have to catch me on the fly. There would be a rigorous interview process, a series of tests if you will, to see how they would perform in real life. Can they resist the urge to flinch when I scream in their face? Can they watch me on the loo without betraying their disgust? Does the sight of blood freak them out? For this I have in mind the story behind the “chestburster” scene in the film Alien, where Ridley Scott surprised his actors with an eruption of freshly steamed offal. Most importantly, they’d need to be able to make a good cup of tea. I’ll have mine strong but milky, with one sugar (for energy), thanks.
I’m only semi-joking. I’m fascinated by the so-called miracle of birth. I honestly find it amazing that my body can grow another entire human being and then manage to squeeze it out of a tiny hole. During labour with my daughter, my husband and I were too focused on what was happening, too busy trying to cope with the fear, to take any pictures. When she emerged, I exhaustedly protested that I didn’t want any photos to be taken as I felt so knackered. No one had a camera to hand anyway, so the moments where I first held her were missed. I really regret that now.
Understand that I don’t necessarily want nice, pretty pictures to share on Facebook or Twitter. I don’t want the black-and-white, sanitised version of birth. I want the glorious, gruesome, Technicolor version of what my body went through and what I achieved. As a marathon runner might. I want to see the pain, and also the pay-off at the end.
So next time, I’m seriously contemplating getting a photographer. A search online reveals the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers who in February held a competition to find the best birth photograph. You can see the results here. I love the one with the daughter hugging her labouring mother, and check out the People’s Choice award: an image of a baby born in its caul – utterly amazing. With £850 as a starting price (on tummytotoddler.co.uk) we’re not going to be able to afford to do it, but I’ve got time to put out feelers with my amateur-photographer friends. I wonder who will have the stomach for it?theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
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The Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS is a premium standard zoom lens for Sony compact system cameras.
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The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM | A is a fast standard prime lens for APS-C DSLR cameras.
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