Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Photography

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

And Now for Something Completely Different!

My friend, Einar Erlendsson, who invited me to Iceland in the first place, assured me that it’s a place where the mad Vikings roam. He wasn’t kidding.

Out there in the hot springs, he introduced me to Ingo, who was going to be our character model for the day—with the emphasis on “character.” He was a fun-loving, decent guy, and a non-stop talker. I remember him just peppering me with conversation, and not understanding a word he said. Einar said he was a “real Viking,” which, at the end of the day, I just took to mean “flat-out wild man.” He was also a photographer. Of course.

No matter. He had a couple of outfits. Instead of the helmet and the broadsword, we opted for the biker jacket and the shotgun. As I recall, he didn’t have a leotard and a tutu. Too bad, as it would have been an interesting entry to my dance archive.

I wanted to shoot him with the Northern moon, which was full and bright. Seemed appropriate. To do so, I had to get him to high ground, and far enough away from me to use a big lens. Ever try to shoot the moon? (I mean, photographically?) It’s easy to be moon-struck as a photog. This near neighbor of ours in the solar system has oozed enchantment, mystery, and romance throughout human history. We look up at this big, beautiful moon, and then try to shoot it in reference to something earthbound, and it more than likely ends up as a tiny, annoying, bright white bullet hole through our pixels. So annoying and attention-getting that I imagine some shooters—after going all out for a moon shot of a photo—then just blot it out in post-production. That sucker’s bright, hard to manage, and small, even through a decent-sized telephoto lens.

So, I knew I had to get my subject up and away, far away. In fact, this was shot with a 1,000mm lens, or the equivalent thereof. (It was a 600mm f/4, plus a TC-17E II 1.7 teleconverter, which makes the overall lens almost an f/8, effectively.)

Given the raw, rough-around-the-edges quality of my subject, I figured a raw flash would do quite nicely. Actually, I’m just saying that. When we finally hit on the fact that doing this pic was going to be possible, a simple, VAL (voice-activated light stand, i.e., an assistant) hard flash treatment was all that we could manage to throw together in time. The Norseman went up the rocks, next to the moon. Drew grabbed a flash and scrambled up there with him.


Ever go to a lecture where an utterly insufferable photog of note is showing work and waxing eloquently about the nature of the light or the camera-work, and how their wizardly, knowing touch at the moment of exposure imparted magic to the image? Thus, it possesses a certain je ne sais quoi, an undeniable power that one can’t touch or define, but is truly there, somewhere? That they are actually not wielding a camera, but instead an instrument more akin to a Harry Potter–like wand and the resultant exposure is really more of a spell than a photo?

It’s hogwash. Practical concerns, falling light levels, rapidly rising moons, and desperation drive most field asolutions. Mysticism comes later.

The one fancy fillip I did add here was to figure this as a perfect testing ground for the relatively newly arrived Flex/Minis, the radio TTL Pocket-Wizards. These promise to take the arcane language of TTL and translate it into radio waves, thus freeing the photog from the shackles of line-of-sight transmission. Great situation to try this out. Clear field from transmitter to receiver, in a remote area, pretty much devoid of competing RF. Fresh batteries, aerial exposed, good to go.

Uh, no.

It didn’t work. Tried every which way I could right then and there, but got no transmission. In their defense, the units were still in the beta stage of things, and thus shy of the myriad firmware updates still to come. We might have easily done smoething wrong, like miss a step in the powering sequence of the Flex/Minis, which is roughly akin to a shuttle launch. Or we didn’t do the secret flash radio handshake properly. Or we used the wrong incense for the burnt offerings we made to the gods of radio TTL. Or Drew didn’t rub the receiver for luck. I don’t know.

What I do know is I went line-of-sight, SU-4 optical slave mode, something that has been with us shooters for a long time. Drew just put the unit in manual, full power, and I triggered it with a flash pop at camera. Easy, and antediluvian.

It worked. Because of the distance from my camera to my subject, the flash at the camera did not affect him at all. It didn’t alter or influence my exposure. All the light on him is from the remote flash, handheld, up there on the rocks, to the right of camera. The light sensor panels on the SB-900 are quite sensitive, and very much so when in SU-4 mode. When in TTL mode, they are seeking a specific frequency of light emanating from the commander, and are thus constrained to only fire in response to that frequency. Think of it as a partially open door. When you go to SU-4 optical slave mode, you throw the door wide open. The thing will fire in response to any sudden increase of light, coming from anywhere. I’ve been on location in the big city where a passing ambulance with the gumball machine on will trigger an 800 or 900 from a couple hundred feet away. Hence, my pop from shouting distance at the camera was more than enough to ignite this flash for my subject.

The final was 1,000mm lens, D3X, ISO 500, 1/30th at f/16, tripod. I went for as much depth as I could find, as I wanted some sharpness to the moon. As you can see, even at f/16, the lunar surface is not detailed; it is more like shadows and textures.

My foreground subject is not texture, however. He’s a full-blown, hard-flashed, shotgun-toting, moon-howling man of the north, out there on the rocks.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020