Equipment Review: Aputure Trigmaster Plus Radio Trigger

I’ve been using RD-616 radio triggers for my off-camera flash units for quite a few years now, and they have been working well for me. The problem with the RD-616s is that I have to have a hot shoe adapter to go on the light stands, and the PC cord connection can get wonky after a while. So I was looking around for a suitable replacement and ran across the Aputure Trigmaster Plus. This is a really cool-looking little widget that has a hot shoe built into it so I figured I wouldn’t have to worry about wires and PC cords — just thread it onto the lightstand adapter and off we go!

Aputure Trigmaster Plus

As these are transceivers, I opted for four units since I usually shoot with two camera bodies. I received them and immediately stated playing with them. Build quality looks good, though I’d like to see a replaceable foot on them as I’ve broken the RD-616 transmitters’ feet on occasion and it would be nice if they were user-serviceable for that sort of thing. The Trigmasters don’t have a “cheap Chinese junk” feel to them like so many of this sort of product.

Included in the box is a plethora of cables — since these are radio triggers, the box includes wires that connect them with most devices that I would need a radio trigger for: a PC cord, a small headphone jack, and perhaps the coolest part of it, a plug that allows the Trigmaster to be used to trigger the camera itself as a remote camera. This is REALLY cool and actually works quite well, even focuses the camera before shooting.

As I said before, the Trigmaster Plus has a built-in hotshoe. The pattern of the contacts on the hotshoe (and the foot as well) are consistent with that of a Canon flash, but I can’t see a reason for this. The unit does not do TTL metering to control the flash. Maybe the manufacturer is projecting forward to future models, and intending to make a TTL version of the Trigmaster Plus. I don’t know.

It took a little bit of fiddling to figure out how to get them to see each other, but once I did it seemed that we were on our way. The unit has a channel selector button next to the channel display; to change channels (if you’re using multiple lights on different frequencies, for instance) just press the channel selector button. There are six channels to choose from.

A few days later, I debuted them at a wedding.

Frustration immediately ensued. One of the receivers worked fine for the most part. The other one would randomly switch channels, forcing me to remove the speedlight from the receiver in order to reset the channel, sometimes in the middle of a shoot. I started to figure out that it was mostly when I moved the lightstand that this happened. At first, I thought it was the speedlight itself bumping the channel selector button, but there’s enough clearance between the flash and the button that this is impossible. I wrapped a blue rubberband around the offending receiver, set it to transmit, and swapped it out with another unit. This didn’t seem to have any real effect on it, since the other one started to act up at this point.

I contacted the manufacturer, who said to try loosening the screws holding the thing together. That did not help either. So I contacted the manufacturer again, who told me last week that this seems to be a problem with this batch of Trigmaster Plus units, that the problem has been remedied in more recent versions, and to return them to the seller and get replacements. I contacted the seller and was told that they are out of the office until the end of January for Chinese New Year. Really? I can see a day or a few days, but a whole month?

This really does not make me happy, as I do not relish sending these back to CHINA on my own dime, but I have the things and I’m stubborn that way. So I will do it. As it sits right now, if the new ones work they will likely be a viable alternative for Pocket Wizards but if they don’t, I will not be able to recommend them to anyone.

New Camera and Lovely Birds

Last week I upgraded my camera bag to include a new Canon 7D camera body. As with any new piece of equipment, I had to take it out immediately and start working with it to learn its ins and outs, so we went to the Gilbert Water Ranch for a BEAUTIFUL walk among the trees and birds. Hummingbirds were everywhere, and there were blue herons, egrets, ducks, and zillions of other kinds of birds that I haven’t the first clue what they are. I can’t wait to go back, now that I’ve figured out how to set the focus points and the autofocus modes on this camera.

Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch

The PBY Lives!

There’s a PBY sitting at Glendale Airport. It flew in some years ago, and the owner’s been working to get it up to snuff to move it to its new home at a new aviation museum here in Arizona. I was lucky to be able to be there when they fired it up to test the engines prior to a taxi test. Unfortunately, the taxi test didn’t happen since there was a fuel system issue with the left engine, but it sure is beautiful to hear round engines run. There’s something classic about radials.

It’s interesting that when an aircraft is sitting derelict (this one’s not derelict, just a work in progress, but this concept applies) it seems lifeless, dead. And when it runs it comes to life, like it really wants to be back in the air where it belongs. This is the most life I’ve seen in this PBY since it arrived at Glendale.

PBY Lives!!

PBY Lives!!

PBY Lives!!

PBY Lives!!

Ariane & Ryan, Beautiful North Scottsdale Wedding

November 12, 2011 was supposed to be nasty and raining and cold for Ariane and Ryan’s wedding. We were expecting the worst but got blessed with the best! A beautiful bride and groom, a great family, a fantastic property, and a magnificent sunset to crown a truly exhilarating wedding day. Ariane and Ryan are super sweet, just good people who have terrific chemistry, and it shows in the way they treat one another and also everyone around them. I am grateful to have been able to share their day and to photograph them. Thank you!

You can see the entire wedding gallery on my Proofsets page. Click here and select “view your proofs” to see the whole gallery.

Also, a big shout-out to Michelle of Your Heart’s Desire & Simply Refined Events for her tireless work in making the day go so smoothly!

Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011

Coronado Dons Marching Band

I love marching bands. I was in marching band all the way through high school and on into college, and actually earned money with my mediocrity as a brass player for a while. So when my daughter decided to join the marching band, I was thrilled! She was blessed to be a member of the Coronado High School Dons marching band, which has a long history of quality, pride and skill. I try to make as many shows as I can, and I always have my camera with me. To view the gallery, please click here — this gallery is passworded, so if you are a parent of a Dons Band member, please contact me for a password.

Coronado Dons Drums

Summer Storms

I just LOVE summer storms. I’ve been known to hang around lightning storms for hours to get the perfect photo — something about the power of a big storm is edifying and cathartic. And getting cool lightning photos is very satisfying. Of course, getting cool photos is satisfying anyway, but I just like lightning.

We had a couple of series of storms come through in the last couple of weeks, and I chased them and got some really fun stuff. Taking good lightning photos isn’t that difficult; you just need a camera that you can set to manual mode and shoot with a long shutter speed. For these I used ISO 200, 30 seconds of shutter and an aperture that varied between f/6.3 and 7.1 or so. The camera was on a tripod and I used my 70-200L lens. Enjoy!

Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning

The Rockin’ Sounds of JOYRIDE!!

Joyride is among the best cover bands I’ve heard in a LONG time — I mean, seriously, I don’t know any other band that can cover Evanescence and Pat Benatar and Journey in the same set and do it so well. And Sharett, the singer, is the sweetest thing ever (and so is her mom!). They played at Cactus Jack’s in Ahwatukee and absolutely rocked the joint. What a pleasure to hang with friends and do a little shooting and listen to great music.

You can see the whole gallery here. Band managers — if you like what you see, please contact me about gig and concert coverage. Concert promoters, venue owners as well — I can cover your events affordably and with the highest quality.

Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!

Justin’s Senior Portraits

Justin’s a dynamic senior with huge talents. Juggler, performer, flutist, athlete, parkour runner, Christian, and all-round solid young man. We met up last Thursday and did his senior portraits. We had a great time and got loads of fun photos! I would seriously injure myself if I tried three quarters of the things he does with ease. Amazing!

Justin's Senior Portraits
Justin's Senior Portraits
Justin's Senior Portraits
Justin's Senior Portraits
Justin's Senior Portraits
Justin's Senior Portraits
Justin's Senior Portraits
Justin's Senior Portraits
Justin's Senior Portraits
Justin's Senior Portraits
Justin's Senior Portraits
Justin's Senior Portraits
Justin's Senior Portraits