Dontcha just love gear that works the way you do. Intuitive design, ease of use, multiple applications… the things that make working with the gear simply an extension of what we are trying to do. And that is make photographs.

When I am shooting I want to be involved with the task at hand… wrestling, cajoling, pleading, begging that image to the film or sensor. I cannot argue with my gear while I am doing the hard work of trying to make a photograph. Add in crew questions and hovering clients and the focus gets lost – or diluted at best.

Two new pieces of gear are now in my kit. They rock – and I will tell you why I love the Aputure Trigmaster radio triggers and the small Gamilight softbox and snoot…

Right after I share a few things with you.

My wife came in with the mail Saturday, and a wrapped package was addressed to me. It was a copy of my book… done. Printed and bound and with bar codes and that great ink smell. So that really does make it official.

I sat down with it Sunday and read it from cover to cover. I still liked it (heh) – and that makes me pretty pleased. I wrote it a year ago. (A big thanks to the editors and designers at Amherst Media for treating my work so well.) I do hope that if you decide to buy it, that you enjoy it as well.

I also just found myself on the PDN’s “The Best Workshop Instructors” readers survey report. This issue. What really makes this special to me is that it is a readers survey – not something that was done by fiat. And that gets a great big THANK YOU to all who wrote into PDN to discuss my workshops. I am both humbled and proud.

BTW – what a thrill to be on the same page as so many other wonderful photographers; Joe McNally and Jay Maisel are two of the best in the business. I have to wait until 10AM to go and get an issue… oh hell, I’ll probably get a couple of issues. Heh.

Kirk Tuck and I are teaching a workshop in San Diego this Fall. We have moved the date to October 1, 2, 3 for a couple of reasons. Keeping the expenses down for our students is important to us. (Dang, San Diego has that ‘vacation’ rate thing – whew.) This is 3 day workshop focused on portraiture: Studio Portraits, Environmental Portraits, Candid Portraits, Formal Portraits and Corporate Portraits with the added coolness of learning a little bit of motion work. NOT making videos, but working in a little motion.

So let’s get on to looking at this cool new gear:

Aputure’s Trigmaster 2.4G Radio Trigger kit.

These were sent to me to try out, and I used them in the way I work. I used them for speedlight work. I used them on the Profotos and the Normans. I used them to fire the camera in a difficult position. And they worked well in every situation I put them in. Studio and location work, they performed without flaw.

That is the way I want my gear to work. Easy to use, precise and reliable.

First to the packaging and what you get – and this important: You get what you need for whatever lighting gear you currently have, and whatever lighting you get down the road. They grow with you.

I use speedlights and Normans and Profotos mostly. All take a different connector. And every one of the different connectors are packaged in the Trigmaster kit. I have the large ‘phono’ plug for the back of my Profotos, the simple sync adapter for the Normans, and a hotshoe for the speedlights. Additional cords for different speedlights and other configurations are there as well.

Build quality is refined, with ease of use totally well designed. As you may know I am also a designer, so when a good interface is built, I enjoy it. The controls are all white text on the black body – something my older eyes find so refreshing, and makes them easier to work with in lower light.

You can see how easy it is to read the controls in the shot above. The 4 channel sliders (16 possible channels) face you when the trigger is mounted in your hot shoe. That big round button is the test trigger, and it makes it very easy to fire the strobes to get a reading, and it doubles as a remote firing device for your camera. Believe me, having that large round button sure makes it intuitive, you don’t have to look for it.

The receiver unit, the one with the hotshoe, has the same easy to read channels, intuitive controls for working quickly and a very solid build that makes it feel sturdy. I put speedlights with modifiers in that hot shoe and never worried about the weight. In short, they are not fragile, and should be durable enough for nearly every shooter.

Something else to keep in mind is that they have 16 channels. That is the type of relatively small thing that can mean a lot to someone who needs to isolate lighting, or trigger cameras and flashes separately for multiple strobe situations.

In the shoots I found them to be 100% reliable. NO missed flashes, no problems with interference and all the working distance that I need for my work. They worked flawlessly when triggering the camera during a still life shoot, and every one of my different speedlights worked with them as well. (NOTE: I am a manual flash guy. I do not do any kind of auto. These triggers are perfect for my work.)

Trigmaster 2.4G by Aputure.
Purchase Aputure Trigmaster 2.4G on Amazon If you are looking for a smaller, super efficient substitute for more expensive, huge units, these guys do the job beautifully. Without sacrificing quality or aesthetics.

The GamiLight System is quickly growing. I use their larger softbox, and now they have introduced some new items that really make me smile. I reviewed their large softbox, the GamiLight 43, “On Location with the GamiLight: A New Softbox for Speedlights” back in March. I love it and I use it.

Now GamiLight has introduced two additions to the line that make the system very diverse. A smaller ‘softbox’ and a very cool snoot. I will say that one of the things that I like about these tools is the build quality. The ability to pack a full complement of modifiers in the top of my suitcase is great. Light, flat and easy to carry – yeah… that works!

The smaller ‘softbox’ is a single scrim unit that is perfect for those times when a larger, more diffuse light source is needed. My tests reveal about a 1.3 stop loss, and that is pretty good for these units. The light spreads very well and in close, the GamiLight has a wonderful ‘poppy’ feel to it, while still presenting as a ‘softer’ light. Part of the efficiency would be the shiny surface inside the box. Where many of these types of units have white interiors, the GamiLight’s highly reflective interior means more light out the front.

In the shot above, you can see the relative size of the unit to your speedlight. I would consider this a diffused, albeit small, light source… one that is capable of softening shadow transitions while keeping a fairly strong light with a bit of an ‘edge’ to it. Used in conjunction with the larger GamiLight, it would do well as a hair light or smaller key.

I used the small softbox to do the photographs of the Trigmasters above. It is above and behind the Trigmasters.

I used the cool GamiLight Snoot to add the accent light in the Trigmaster shots above as well. It is to camera left and low to the set.

The snoot comes with two configurations. On the left above is the very small opening, and on the right you can see that the front aperture is removable to allow a larger opening. What is not seen is that inside the unit is a scrim to add diffusion to the light. This is pretty cool, and it is also removable.

This easy to collapse and mount unit is such a wonderful tool. From wedding rings to food to flowers and jewelry, this little unit will become a ‘must use’ for many photographers. Adding a little ‘sparkle’ to something – especially when working on location – can be the difference between good and killer. I shot the closeup of the two Trigmaster items above with the snoot and the larger aperture.

As with the GamiLight 43, the mounts are easy to work and very efficient. Stretch the leather strap over the front of the strobe and attache the lights with the snaps.

Below is the GamiLight Small Softbox attached:

The straps keep it mounted firmly, even when mounted to a pole for your VAL to move it around. Solid mounting means one more thing you don’t have to worry about.

If you are a speedlight shooter, this GamiLight system is a wonderful way to have a complete lighting kit in an easy to carry, light weight and durable set of modifiers.

Real world tools made for real world photographers. I like this gear a lot.

Disclosure: These items were sent to me for review by their manufacturers. My policy is that if I like something, I will review it. If I do not like something, I will not review it. I have no interest in negative reviews. No other policy is in effect.

Follow me on Twitter, Like the FaceBook Page, learn more about the workshops, and find out more About.Me if you wish. Amazon has my new book if you are so inclined.

See you next time.

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