Aputure Trigmaster Plus II Triggers

Aputure Trigmaster Plus II Triggers


Have you ever gotten a product that made so much sense to you that you think it was made to order? That is how I feel about these Trigmaster Plus II’s from Aputure.

Wireless Triggers for flash is now one of the most important tools we have seen emerge in the last decade. Being able to fire flashes without having cords running all over the floor – or work to create “line of sight” for opticals means more freedom for the photographer.

I am a manual flash photographer. I am not interested in ETTL, ATTL, or whatever your camera manufacturer calls the auto-flash exposure mode. I know others who love it. Fine.

I don’t. I like manual and for the way I work, manual works just fine.

And speaking of ‘manual’… (nice segue, eh?), the manual – instruction book – that comes with these triggers is clear, concise and easy to understand. That is pretty cool, right there. I wish all manuals were this easy to go through to find what I need. Clear illustrations and simple concepts had me working with them within a few minutes of taking them out of the box.

And out of the box… the worked flawlessly. That is even cooler than the instruction manual!


trigmasterThey have literally everything I would ever want in a trigger system. Multiple mounting tools (straps, hot shoes, stands) and the options that make sense for the way I shoot.

  • All-In-One Transmitter and Receiver
  • Interlink Triggering Mode
  • Four Zones
  • Relay Mode
  • Multi-Camera Control
  • Power Display
  • Compatibile with all Aputure 2.4G Triggers
  • 500m Range
  • 2 AA Batteries
  • Compatible with high voltage flash units (up to 300v)
  • Compatible with all major brands of flashes (you must purchase the ones for your brand camera)
  • 2.4G Wireless Signal
  • 1/320 Max Sync Speed
  • Metal Hot Shoe
  • Locking Wheel (nice)
  • Antenna folds down for easier storage
  • Easy to read display and controls
  • 1/4″ Tripod Mount on cold shoe
  • Safety Strap
  • All cables needed for most flashes
  • Extra Battery Case
  • PC Cable
  • Flash Sync Cable
  • Sync Output Converter (for larger flashes like my Profoto’s)
  • Test Trigger Button
  • Camera Trigger (remotely fire camera)
  • 6 Channels / Four Zones for maximum productivity

Something I like a lot is the ability to use the remote camera trigger AND have the camera fire a remote flash at the same time. That is new – at least to me – I have not seen any triggers that do that. This is the “Interlink” feature of the units and it is pretty cool

Using the Relay mode on “Super” you can reach out to distances not imagined in inexpensive wireless triggers. I tried it and found that I could get my daughter at one end of the block and me at the other and it still triggered… amazing.

These are not TTL or ETTL or whatever your camera brand calls automatic exposure control of the flash from camera. These units are manual, sturdy, feature rich tools that make shooting with all kinds of flashes (large, medium, small) easier and with less stress.

I have a big batch of different kinds of strobes from Dynalite and Profoto studio strobes to off-brand flashes purchased on EBay for a few bucks. These triggers fired all of my working flashes – without missing a beat.

I need to add an additional big shout out to the designers who used white lettering on the black unit. I know that is an additional cost in the manufacturing process – but it so welcome to many of us who may not have those same young eyes we did back when we were 25. I love the fact that I can see what I need to do without having to angle them to the light to catch black raised letters on a black surface.

Look for them soon on Amazon – we will add a link here as well.
Available on EBay for $59 per.

Learn To Use A Light Meter

Learn To Use A Light Meter

Do you have a hand-held light meter that is just sitting around gathering dust? Have you ever wondered how it would be beneficial to you? I have created a new, free class at UDEMY to help you understand the uses and reasons for using a light meter. There is over 2 hours of content, and more will be added next month… I want to show a real world example of multiple lights and how using a meter helps you address the scene with confidence.

No matter what kind of hand held meter you have, you will learn a lot from this class. We are not brand specific in this course, but we cover all the ways a reflective and incident meter can be used to find the values you need.

But even more importantly, we discuss how a meter can help you visualize the image before you start shooting… and we have a few examples and exercises to help you with that. I hope you enjoy it.

How to Use a Photographic Light Meter: at UDEMY.com (link)

NOTE: this class is given freely to all photographers who want to know how to use their light meter… it is simply produced and is more informational than glossy. It will be continuously updated when new materials become available.

Introduction video.

This course is designed for those photographers who have just begun using a hand held light meter or who may not know what to do with their meters. or why they are important and useful tools for making images.

The light meter is a device that measures the intensity of light, whether that light is being reflected from a subject (reflected light) or falling upon the subject (ambient or “incident” light). The light meter is a tool that helps a photographer create more accuracy in exposures.

We take a very close look at all the ways a light meter can help a photographer develop a stronger understanding of the light, as well as learning how the different tonalities are expressed through a light meter.

Real world examples and some simple and fun exercises will help the beginning light meter user develop good habits, and stronger lighting.

From reflected light readings to “placing the exposure” for maximum artistic presentation to using the ambient dome for flash in studio, this course is a simple to follow discussion of meters.

NOTE: We do not discuss the operation of any specific (Brand) kind of meters. You will still be required to read your manual to find out how to set your specific meter up, and the specific ways it works. But all meters DO the basic same things, and that is what we discuss on this course.

We use video and a few PDF’s to show the use of the meter in both reflective and ambient modes. There are three exercises to be done by the student that will help them learn their specific meter.

The course should be done in order, and there is over 2 hours of video content as well as PDF documents for your files.

If you are ready to learn to use a meter, to take control of your exposure this course is for you. Many photographers will tell you that ‘chimping’ is all you need to do. I disagree… there are far more reasons to use a light meter than merely exposure… and we will discuss them in this class.

The class is free… enjoy and keep shooting.

Please see my two other courses on UDEMY:
– Portrait Lighting with Simple Gear
– Natural Light Beauty and Fashion Photography

Thank you,

Don Giannatti


New Webinar: ” Up Your Game – One Assignment at a Time”

New Webinar: ” Up Your Game – One Assignment at a Time”

You will be receiving an email newsletter from me on Tuesday, January 22. It will come from me through Mail Chimp. If you do not receive the email on Tuesday (check your Spam folder), let me know IMMEDIATELY. The newsletter will be where many of the important topics will be discussed, and a notification of the newsletter will be made on the private site we are setting up for P52 PRO.

The email will contain important information regarding image sizes for critiques, where to put them, how to get into the private page and more.

Thanks to each who have signed up. We are nearly ready to close registration – only a handful of seats remain. This is YOUR year. Let’s make some noise!

Project 52 is a fascinating, intense, creative, portfolio building experience for serious photographers, emerging photographers, pro-am’s and any photographer who is wanting to be more professional in their work. We cover idea development, planning a shoot, lighting for style, creating unique visuals and presenting them in a professional manner. No matter what you are currently doing photographically, this online workshop will kick your butt, challenge you to be better and provide a safe and encouraging community for helping you to grow.

You may have heard about Project 52 and seen some of the amazing images that came from the photographers, and now is your chance to get questions answered, find out more about it and get involved. And it costs you nothing to be involved in the FREE version and only $15 per month for the PRO.

We are full for this group.

If you would like to be notified of the next group starting up (if there is one) drop me a note at don.giannatti@gmail.com with the subject line “P52 Notification” – please use that subject line so I can keep the emails together.

Here is the First Webinar: Enjoy. If this doesn’t answer your questions, let me know what you need. I will note that we are not too far away from closing it for this session.

Second Webinar (Saturday Edition)

Project 52 PRO is a very exciting way for a photographer to challenge themselves, be challenged and learn to shoot to commercial standards.

-52 weeks of instruction.
-52 weekly assignments
-52 weekly reviews and critiques
-52 hours of reviews to keep for your own to listen to again
-52 weekly informational videos for you to keep

We cover shooting, lighting, bidding jobs, finding work, marketing and portfolio building.

North America / Europe / Mid East / Asia: this year with the PRO group, we will be having two different critique shows, so photographers from Europe and Asia will have a decent choice of times for their area.

Whether you want to become a professional photographer, a pro-am weekend shooter or simply be a better photographer, Project 52 is the place to be.

We are currently full for this group. If you would like to be notified of our next group, send a note to me at don.giannatti@gmail.com with the subject line “P52

Photography, I Hardly Knew You…

Photography, I Hardly Knew You…

“…you’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you, don’t you, don’t you…”

Well, yeah.

You see the problem with that grand lyric was that obviously the song WAS about ‘him’. That mysterious beguiling playboy that Carly Simon sang about. I must admit I would always say, ‘well, yeah its about him… duhhhh’ when I heard it. Insipid pop music was the bane of my existence back then.

Simon may play the coy approach, but in the end we all knew it was her that was hurt, and trying to be passive aggressive in the take down of the cad who dumped her. Yeah, I read Oprah… I got that psychobabble shit down, don’t I?

(NOTE: This is a long post… and it rambles on a bit. Just warning you. If reading things over 200 words is a challenge, this is probably not the post for you. No problem, all’s good. Just a heads up.)

Why was she surprised by the protagonist in her little melodramatic ditty? He was as he always was… she couldn’t change him. Why bother trying.

I guess I feel a bit that way toward photography. A couple of instances these last few weeks have set me thinking about what I am doing, how I got here, and the most challenging question… where will I go from here.

No, not giving up photography or the teaching of it. I still love making photographs.

Although somethings have changed. And it is causing me to think and re-think what I call photography.

Rodney Smith, a photographer I so much admire, had a post at his blog that should have gotten a ton more interest than it did. Here is a quote:

On occasion if the subject being photographed is special, wonderful things can happen, but for the most part the use of artificial light and the seamless help the photographer hide behind a veneer of professionalism. But in this process nothing has been risked, nothing has been revealed and your mask is in tact, exposed only to those who care to look deeper.


And lastly, now comes Photoshop, which is changing photography from an interchange with life into a studio experience in one form or another. If you don’t like the background, change it. If you don’t like the expression, change it. Change everything. Change the colors, the light, the clothes, etc., until photography is on its merry mechanical way of being a form of illustration.


So photographers have slowly lost control under the guise of getting more. They have slowly given up the great gift of a meaningful and spiritual interchange with this glorious world, for consistency, ease, control, and most importantly a fear of failure.


All those appurtenances you have added to your toolbox so you would not fail have in fact failed you in the end. What has been lost is a way to succeed naturally. I am fearful some photographers have lost their way.


If you risk a great deal and you expose your hidden self by your experiences and your reaction to the world you encounter, you will be telling all those who care to look and listen the small truths that are hidden inside you.

You should indeed read the whole thing. It will make you think.

And I could care less if you agree with him – or me- or not. It is an exercise in thinking beyond the edges.

There was a time, when I entered photography, that the challenge of making an image was foremost a matter of skill and bravery and choices and difficulties to be met at every turn. The amount of time spent working with chemistry to perfect that incredible negative was profound. It wasn’t automatic, it wasn’t foolproof. It was fucking hard work.

I have on my shelves countless books in photographic technique: The Ansel Adams “Camera/Negative/Print” series, books on darkroom and film developing, books on alchemy and the magic of selenium toner when combined with hot Dektol… I could go on.

But what would be the point.

That entire shelf of books is worth entirely nothing now.

The information contained within is no longer viable, no longer of interest to anyone but a few.

Something indeed was lost.

And other things were found… you see with any closing of one door, another door gets bashed open by a wrecking ball and throws shards of glass all over the walls and floors, endangering all who linger in the mourning of the closed door.

“Photography” is about 140 years old. In the grand scheme of things it is a pretty young art form. There are no known photographs of Bach, or Michaelangelo, or Genghis Khan. The camera didn’t exist. The likenesses were created with pen and brush.

By highly skilled pen and brush image creating folks.

When the camera came about, you should have heard them scream. In fact, you can still hear luddite statists discussing whether photography is art or not. It is, so STFU.

Now we have entered the digital photography dimension or era or time… whatever. I have a prediction… it won’t last another 140 years. You can bet your Mayan calendar on that.

Change is growing exponentially… and what we are seeing now is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Photography, as I learned it, is practically no more.

Digital changed everything.

Hey, I’m not whining, I am pointing out that when the bar of entry changes, the output changes with it.

If every young girl in the world had her own thoroughbred horse, what would the world look like? Would ‘horse racing’ or ‘dressage’ still exist? If everything was as good as everything else, what would be the point?

In my own work I have come to quite a different place than I was even a few years ago. I now question the ‘legitimacy’ of every image I shoot. Does it need to be made? What will the making of that image mean to me? If I do not take the image what will be lost?

In the commercial part of my business the answers are self evident. I need to make this shot and do a great job at it because that is what I am hired to do, and what makes me a professional. Obviously there is a need for the photograph, and thank heaven they called me to fill that need.

But I am referring here to the personal work. The stuff that I seek out. The ‘real’ images that have always helped me see my place in the world.

I have been asked why I photograph and the answer has always been ‘because I must’. Not just because I want to. There has always been a deep need to fulfill the request from my mind for a singular image, a point in time that will never be again captured and saved. I still love it so.

However, the excitement that I felt when meeting challenges of ISO, light, negative development, printing and presenting my work is now different. Oh, it isn’t gone… but it is different.

Digital has removed so many choices that once were so important – wiped them clear off the table. I mean, they are simply gone.

When I would think of a photograph, I would first consider the format. This shot felt right for an 8×10, that one was gonna be on 35, and the one tomorrow was 6×7, no doubt in my mind about that. I had a wide variety of cameras and formats that all felt different in my hands. I didn’t photograph with my 4×5 as I did with my 35. Even the way the camera was interfaced with me was such a complete and radical difference.

Then the task of narrowing down the film choices… and processing choices… and print choices.

Each choice impacting all the other choices… ahhh… heady times.

Now photography is for the most part shot on the 35MM type of camera. No waist viewfinders, no gridded screens and built in tilt-shift. No bigass 8×10 chromes that jump off the light table and make you catch your breath for a split second.

I miss that.

But I do not despair in the here and now either.

Digital has made the love of the still image something everyone can be involved in. I think that is grand.

But it is different.

The “Photograph” capitol P, is now the rarity. Photographs have become ubiquitous and so widely disseminated that the taking of an image is in many cases an afterthought.

Jorge Colberg recently wrote on Conscientious:

Photographing an event one is looking at might just be a natural consequence of that compulsive looking. Of course, one is likely to share the images with friends or whoever else will look at them (as I did). Photographing results from a desire to communicate, and modern technology has made it possible for people to achieve that very effect usually instantaneously (this is one of the reasons why articles such as Jones’ are so misguided).


But I believe there is more. Often enough, the photographs we produce are not very good photographs. Mind you, I’m not talking about the idea of beauty here. I’m talking about simple image quality. Cell phone and digital point-and-shoot cameras are pretty good, but most photographs by bystanders are pretty bad. They might be blurry, or the camera might have trouble getting the exposure right, or the fact that digital cameras almost always have very wide-angle lenses results in the event being quite small in the photograph. Interestingly enough, reduced image quality usually means increased believability – if it looks too good, it might be fake (as if it were impossible to fake blurry images).


So there’s that then: We photograph almost as compulsively as we look when something is happening (even if it’s just the breakfast appearing under our noses), and since the photographs don’t look too perfect, that only means they’re more real. And we share, because that’s what photographs are made for (only very, very few photographs are made for the walls of galleries or rich collectors, or to give pleasure to art critics).

Pretty compelling reading, and I do hope you read the whole article. It will make you think. And thinking is our friend.

I look at the ways photography is being discussed on forums and around photographers of all levels and am struck by how little the images are involved in the dialog. There is a fascination with the tools and the presentation and the ‘cool’ factor that has little to nothing to do with why that image exists, why it was made, and to what end it will be left.

In the world of Instagram, those are not things we discuss.

My daughter (15) has a point and shoot camera with ‘all of her pictures on it’. I mentioned that I would take her card out and transfer the photographs to her computer so she could make more photographs. “You can print up the ones you like,” I told her.

She heard: “Imvo platigroassy imo uitvllvy…”

“Why would I make a print,” she asked?

“And why would I want the pictures on my computer? I want them on the camera so I can show them to my friends. And most of them are on Facebook already…”

Well, OK then.

I replaced the 4GB card with a 16GB card, moved her pictures over to the new card and got a great big hug… “thanks daddy”.

Photography has become an event, a sport, a past time much as the way of golf… wait, nothing is as boring as golf. (Yeah, now I will get hate mail from golfers who think this is about them…)

There are some photographers who think that Instagram is the devil, Flickr the ruination of all that is artistic and G+ as a place where photographers shout “look what I did, look what I did.”

Well, they may have a point about G+, but seriously… nothing could be further from the truth.

Photography, capital P Photography, is still here. It exists in digital, and it exists in those still using analog.

It has little to nothing to do with Instagram or 500PX or Yahoo or Facebook or Twitter or whatever. That is something new… a shared visual experience, a connecting device with little regard for exposure or ‘the rule of thirds bullshit’ or any of the things we bigP shooters are thinking about.

But maybe we should think about it a bit more.

Maybe we should think about where this is all going, cause I think in another ten years we may not recognize much of what we think Photography should be. (Yeah, there’s that ‘should’ word again… scary.)

How about this… maybe we damn well better start thinking about it. Digital changed a lot of things about our art, our business, our personal relationship to the image and more.

Much, much more.

We could go running around worrying and fretting and getting all angst ridden like this insufferable whimpering elitist

When did my photophobia begin? When I realised that I was buying into the same delusion of grandeur as everyone else. I have a decent camera and it can take lovely pictures. It has a close-up focus that can capture perfectly crisp images of a flower petal or a bee up close. So I think the moment it all went wrong was on a visit to Kew Gardens. There I was, having fun snapping water lilies, when I realised that about a hundred people were doing the same thing. Grannies, kids, babies, all with cameras and a sense of being artists. I am waiting for dogs and cats to get their own photo-sharing site for their genuinely beautiful snaps.


How can you fool yourself about this? For every wacky picture you take and upload, a million just as wacky are being taken. Dogs, flowers, fairy lights … each one as gorgeous as the next. On Instagram every passing moment has a pseudo-Baudelarian beauty. Random shots of ordinary things are touched up for instant allure. It is so easy with these technologies to believe you are Baudelaire’s “painter of modern life”, the ironic flâneur capturing the passing life of the modern world, or a latter-day Atget, but really you are the servant of a computerised eye. Instagram’s apparent claim of ownership of every image on its site would actually be a logical next step, for the reality is that no individuality exists in the creation of digital images.

Well, I hope not. There is so much bullshit in those two paragraphs that I could devote an entire week taking this apart. Dude… if you can’t find anything to make a photograph of, just STFU and go write poetry.

Instagram is not the enemy… complacency and ignorance are.

Photography is alive and well, and the fact that so many people love it is cause for celebration. Understanding that the world of our art is changing takes personal education and engagement.

It means we will have to find our way through uncharted territory… a place where cameras mounted on hats, full range cameras with no need to focus until after the image is taken, 3-dimensional captures to 3-dimensional prints, images that ‘speak’, blurred images that are recovered to perfect sharpness, and so much more.

So many new and exciting things coming soon… I wish I was 30 again to witness all these amazing things.

And adopting the new doesn’t mean tossing the old. I am shooting some tintype now on my beloved Deardorff 8×10.

And I look forward to shooting on my new Nikon V1 to be delivered today.

So photography, an art form of less than a century and a half is being changed and altered and manipulated and morphed right in front of our very eyes.

Are you on board? And if you are, where do you think we will be in a couple of years?

I cannot wait to find out.

2013: Books Without Photos… Oh My!

2013: Books Without Photos… Oh My!

I love books. My wife and I have enough for a small library I am sure. Every room of our home has books in it. And a good quantity of them as well.

We read avariciously. Marian prefers fiction, while I spend a lot of time with non-fiction and poetry. It gives us a wide diversity on the bookshelves.

I am doing something a bit differently this year. I plan on focusing in on four books that I believe will help me stay creative and motivatated.

While it is great to read about photographers and how to do stuff with photography gear and how exciting it is to be a photographer and check out these photographs, there are times when we need to focus on ideas, concepts and the stuff that will expand our way of seeing our work, and how we view what we do. These books do that for me.

Chris Brogan had an idea to ONLY read three books this year… concentrating all of ones efforts on fully understanding the books, and re-reading them again and again to instill the information deep into the brain.

I cannot do that. I know myself, and the double dose of ADD that keeps me going would never allow me to study only, hey a bird is right outside my window and I was wondering if you like cheese, and how far is it to Des Moines?

So my plan is to keep four books with me and refer to them again and again to help me stay motivated, and to take the information that is there and deeply ingrain it into my ways of working. I want these books to ‘steep’ into my very core. I will do my own edits and changes along the way… we all should. However, I feel these books will help me become sharper and more competitive in the coming months.

Do you need to be a little sharper and more competitive? Just asking.

(EDIT – Note: for reasons similar to my own, Chris has just abandoned his three book diet as well. More.)

I have purchased hard copies and Kindle copies so they live on my iPad and on my small shelf near the desk. I have read each of them once, but now I will be turning to them again and again all year. I will still consume various other books as we go along, but these will be the go-to’s and distraction guardians. I can only assume the hard copies will be marked up and dog-eared as the year ends 12 months from now.

These books are readily available, and I recommend them to everyone who asks.

1. Tim Ferris: “The Four Hour Chef”
The book combines power learning with cooking and self improvement strategies. It is a myriad of ideas woven through a cookbook that will help me drop a bunch of weight and get in shape while also finding ways to exercise my mind. The book is a big one in analog form. I may need a second set of pens to cover this one.

It is illustrated, but not images are there to support the text. The processes are clearly written and the book is quite a read.

2. Chris Guillebeau writes one of my favorite blogs over at “The Art of Non-Conformity” and has a wonderful book with that same name if you need another idea.

The book I am reading in my ‘Focused Four’ is “The $100 Startup” and it is a great, information filled book on entrepreneurship and creating a business that enables a ‘freedom’ lifestyle.

Examples, ideas, concepts and a strong ideal for my way of living comes through, and I have already begun marking this thing up. Lots of stuff for the brain.

3. Erika Napoletano writes a blog at ‘Redhead Writing’ that is intriguing and fun. Her quirky ways of looking at the world, and the refreshing reality based marketing information she gives is spot on in my book.

Her book, “The Power of Unpopular: A guide to building your brand for the audience who will love you (and why no one else matters)” has been one of my faves since it came out. I read it once, now it goes on my ‘focused four’ bookshelf for inspiration, ideas and buttkicking reality.

If you think you must be loved by everyone, you should think again. Focus on those who will follow you anywhere and to hell with distraction-based people and PIA’s.

4. Chris Brogan teamed with Julien Smith on a book titled “The Impact Equation” and I love it.

The book is filled with forward looking material that fosters ideas for your own ‘platform’ from which to grow a business, or perform better at anything you wish to do.

I am only three chapters in and have 6 pages of notes… yeah, I think it is that good. Chris is a no-nonsense marketer and one I recommend for all photographers to get to know. Other than his affection for G+, I find a great deal of inspiration and real world marketing info from him.

So there ya go. Four books I recommend to every photographer, and the ones that now inhabit that special place next to my computer. I am glad to hear that Chris abandoned his 3 book diet. I could never do that as I am a content creator, and that means I consume content as well. Chris has adopted my ‘special go-to books’ approach even before he knew about it… hey, great minds and all.

What books are you looking to focus on this year?

Next Time: Is it time to consider that digital photography has become something different than traditional photography?