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Portraits: Drummer DJ Swanson


Don’t be fooled by DJ’s name – he’s a drummer through and through. You may recall DJ Swanson from the shoot with his band Interplause late last year.

For this set of solo portraits, we decided to try something a bit different, and shot DJ with one of his Yamaha drum kits. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to test out the new Pocketwizard ControlTL units (FlexTT5 and MiniTT1) for Nikon. How’d these new flash triggers do? Hit the full set to find out.



Drummer DJ Swanson photographed in St. Louis, Missouri on February 17, 2011 by music photographer Todd Owyoung (© Todd Owyoung)



Photographer’s Notes:

Cameras Used:

  • Nikon D3

Lenses Used:

  • Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

Lighting Equipment Used:

  • Nikon SB-900 (3x)
  • Nikon SB-600 (2x)
  • Manfrotto 9′ Quick Stack lighstands
  • Nikon SD-9 battery pack (2x)
  • Pocketwizard MiniTT1 for Nikon
  • Pocketwizard FlexTT5 for Nikon (5x)
  • Lastolite Ezybox Softbox

For me, this shoot was all about the new Pocketwizard FlexTT5 and MiniTT1 units. If you haven’t already, you can check out my review of these new Pocketwizard ControlTL units for Nikon over at FlashRAW.

For the most part, I used a mix of four remote speedlights for this set, all attached to the Pocketwizard FlexTT5 units – two Nikon SB-900s and two Nikon SB-600s.

On my Nikon D3, I used the Pocketwizard MiniTT1 and the Nikon SB-900 speedlight as the commander unit. The beauty about the Pocketwizard ControlTL system is being able to control CLS groups exactly as you can with your Nikon speedlights but now with the reliability of radio transmission. No more line-of-sight issues or having to worry about bouncing the IR signal to get the lights to fire.

The key lights in this set are two Nikon SB-900 speedlights fired in a cross-lighting configuration, firing perpendicular to the camera axis.

The fill light here is provided by a small, 15″ Lastolite Ezybox Softbox, through which I fired a Nikon SB-900.

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There are 12 comments

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  1. David

    Todd, it looks like you used a 5 light set up. Would you mind throwing up a lighting diagram? Thanks…you rule!

    • Todd

      Hey David,

      I used 4 remote lights for the first setup, then changed to 3 remote lights plus the sun in the second setup.

      Diagrams coming when I can sit down to draw them up. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Kevin deLeon

    These are just beautifully executed Todd. On the action shots, did you get him to hold the pose, or were you able to get the action stopped with the lights? They look so crisp, I would assume pose, but I guess it depends on how much light you were pumping. Either way, great portrait shots.

  3. kenny

    hey todd, would still love to see a setup shot of this shoot. did you ever draw a diagram out for david above? i would be interested in seeing this as well.

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