All posts by Mark Wallace

Mark is a traveler, photographer, and writer.

Studio Lighting in NYC

If you’ve been following me on Twitter then you’ll know that I’ve been spending a lot of time in New York lately. A couple of weeks ago Diane and I were able to take Studio Lighting 101 to Manhattan. Here are a few shots that Diane took during the day.

Mark explains metering to the group.

Mark explaing another lighting setup while students get ready to set it up.

Caterina strikes a pose.

Students take turns shooting with the Profoto D4 and 6 foot softbox.

Mark explains a few camera settings.

Students helping each other out.

_S2B0893.jpgMark sits next to Caterina as he explains the calibration target.

The obligatory group shot at the end of the day.

On Location with PocketWizard

I’ve been shooting a bunch of tutorial videos for PocketWizard over the last three weeks. while we were on location I wanted to give a very quick overview of one of the setups. Here’s a quick one minute video that shows how easy it is to use the new Mini and Flex.

You can see exactly what the flashes are doing by looking at the shot that was taken with Ab, our cameraman, in the shot. The background was much brighter than the foreground and the flashes really make the shot.


Click here to read more about PocketWizard wireless triggers.

liveBooks Update


Last month I mentioned that I was making the switch to liveBooks. In that post I outlined my reasons for choosing liveBooks, if you’re considering a new portfolio I encourage you to read that post to see if liveBooks is a fit for you.

Several people on Twitter have asked me how the switch was going and if I would give a short update on the process so far.

Note: You can follow liveBooks on Twitter: @liveBooks

In a nutshell: the process is great. The liveBooks staff has been terrific and I’m well on my way to having a new portfolio up and running. After my initial consultation with Cory, my sales rep, I was sent en e-mail with the entire process that we’d follow:

Picture 1.png

Within minutes of signing up for liveBooks I was sent my welcome package. It contained all the information I needed to get started with my new liveBooks site, detailed information about the design process, a User Guide, and specific instructions for preparing my images.


The welcome package is pretty cool because it not only outlines everything that I get with my site but it has tons of tutorials and information about how to use the site once it goes live. I’ve been optimizing photos, preparing videos, talking to my designer, and getting very excited about my new site.

The first thing they asked me to do was tell them everything I wanted out of my site. The fonts, the colors, the look and feel, sites that I like, sites I hate, inspirations, information about me, what I do, where I’m going, how I do business, the name of my dog. These guys use every bit of information to create something unique.

Starter Site

The design coordinator took all of my information and assigned a person to work with me to design my site. The wait was a couple of weeks since the liveBooks staff is pretty busy right now. The cool thing was I didn’t have to sit on my hands during that time. Taylor, the Production Coordinator, set me up with a starter site. It’s a fully functional liveBooks site that allows me to upload photos and learn all about the editSuite. I’ve been working on my images and portfolio since day one.

Design Preferences

Brandi Mata

Last week I got an e-mail from Brandi Mata, my Designer. She told me she’d read all of the information I’d submitted in my design preferences and set up a phone consultation (I requested this). Before the phone call she sent me a clear agenda of what we’d talk about:

  • Overview of the entire design process.
  • Expectations.
  • Review Design Preferences.
  • Questions.
  • Next Steps.

When she called I was very happy to hear that she’d not only read all of the information I’d sent her but she’d also done some research on her own to figure out who I was. She’d watched my videos, looked at my current portfolio, surfed our blog, and even looked at Diane’s work as well. She wasn’t just prepared for our meeting, she was well prepared. Bonus points to Brandi!

Brandi asked me clarifying questions, offered suggestions, and then told me she was ready to get to work. She is now working her magic and creating a design just for me. She’ll have that ready in a few days. This is considered the “Design Concept”. I’m allowed four “revisions” before the site goes live. After the initial concept is ready I’ll take a look, offer suggestions, and then Brandi will go for round two. Once everything is locked in the site will be built and then we’ll go live.

That’s where I am in the process today. I’ll keep you posted as things progress.

As I noted in my last post, Corey Miller at liveBooks helped me with all of the information and spent a lot of time answering my questions. If you’d like to know more about liveBooks I suggest you give him a call: 714-408-4543 or send him an e-mail:

Trustworthy Online Stores

My iPhone shot of B&H Photo in New York City.

I don’t think a day goes by without someone asking me where I buy my equipment. I buy a lot of it locally at Photomark and the rest I buy online. Here are my favorite places to buy on the Internet. I’ve purchased a lot of gear from each of these stores and can tell you they are trustworthy.

  • Canoga Camera – A great shop in southern California. Shipping is very fast and the staff is awesome. I usually check here first because the service is top notch. One of my favorites.
  • B&H Photo Video – a HUGE store in New York City. The king of online stores.
  • Adorama – Another big store in New York City. Great deals, solid service.
  • Roberts – The place I go when I can’t find it anywhere else. This store saved me a lot of money a few years ago.
  • Calumet Photographic – Another big store with a great selection. They make their own lighting equipment – great stuff. I usually go here for reflectors, flags, etc.
  • Lastolite – They’ve got some great reflectors, stands and background systems. If you need portable backgrounds or shoot on location a lot make sure you check out their gear.

Do you have any local or online stores you want to add to the list? Just leave a comment if you have a favorite that you think others should know about.

New York, here we come!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be hosting two workshops in New York City next month. I’ll be teaching my Studio Lighting 101 workshop and introducing a new workshop called Creative Strategy.

Creative Strategy


The new Creative Strategy workshop is all about proven methods to foster creativity in individuals and groups. It’s based on methods that I’ve used for over 20 years to produce events, productions, workshops and art. I’ll show students practical ways to create new ideas, use their computers for capturing and producing those ideas, and how train your brain to be more creative.

Cost: $45
Date: Friday, May 22, 2009
Time: 6:30-9:30pm
Location: Scene Interactive Studios

Click here for more information about the Creative Strategy workshop.

Studio Lighting 101 – New York City


Studio Lighting 101 is a full-day event. Expect to learn the fundamentals of portrait studio lighting and what it takes to get professional results. The class will include plenty of hands-on exercises that will allow you to learn from practical experience.

The class will focus on portrait photography. In the afternoon we’ll be joined by a professional model. At the end of the day you’ll have enough photos for a basic portfolio.

Topics to be included in this class:

  • Properties of Light
  • Equipment Essentials
  • Using your light meter
  • Using light modifiers
  • Working with your subject
  • Lighting the Model
  • Secrets of portrait photography
  • Digital Workflow

Cost: $350
Date: Saturday, May 23, 2009
Time: 10:00am-6:00pm
Location: Scene Interactive Studios

Click here for more information about the Studio Lighting workshop.


Both workshops will be held at Scene Interactive Studios in New York City.

Scene Interactive
Studio B
601 W 26th St
New York, NY 10001

Click here for an interactive map

Scene Interactive, Studio B

Cool New Pocket Wizard stuff.


Pocket Wizard just announced some very cool new features for the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 transceivers. The big announcement has to be the new ability to adjust the manual power settings of your remote Canon Speedlites directly from the flash mounted on your on-camera MiniTT1 or FlexTT5.

Very sweet. Now we have the option of full TTL or shooting manually and making adjustments remotely. It sounds a lot like some of the features of the Profoto Air Remote I shot with last month. Being able to remotely control lights is nice if you are short an assistant or have lights mounted out of reach (10 feet of the ground on a stand, etc).

Another new feature is the Basic Trigger Mode. This allows the MiniTT1 and FlextTT5 to work as a normal PocketWizard transmitteron any camera that they will fit (this means you Nikon). Although this doesn’t give Nikon and other cameras the fancy TTL features it does allow everyone the small form factor of the MiniTT1. And since the MiniTT1 works with all of your other PocketWizards you’ll be set to go.

So when is PocketWizard going to release a Nikon version of the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5? I don’t know. I do know they are working on it and I’d be surprised if we didn’t see some Nikon compatible units in a few months.

There are many other features that PocketWizard announced this morning. Here’s the official release:

South Burlington, VT – In addition to the previously announced new features and updates to the ControlTL firmware, PocketWizard has added a new feature and this one’s a biggie. Now you can adjust the manual power settings of your remote Canon Speedlites directly from the flash mounted on your on-camera MiniTT1™ or FlexTT5™.

Working with a Canon 580EXII in the shoe of the MiniTT1 or FlexTT5, you can independently control the power output of up to three groups of lights (you can have as many lights in each group as you want) from full power down to the lowest setting simply through the user interface on the back of the 580EXII. Now you can work with total control with your remote lights, without leaving your shooting position.

Another new feature is Basic Trigger Mode. When enabled, it allows the MiniTT1 or FlexTT5 to work as a transmitter on ANY camera it will fit. Now those looking for the new small form factor of the MiniTT1 can use it on other DSLR’s, SLR’s or even medium format cameras with standard hot shoes. The MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 are completely reverse compatible with all previous PocketWizards so they will work with whatever PocketWizards already owned.

These two features join several others that were pre-announced in March. Other new features are:

  • High Speed Sync (HSS or FP Sync) Disable Mode. Now you can select either HSS Sync or HyperSync™ at shutter speeds at or over 1/640. This allows you to use HyperSync and the benefit of full power flash all the way up to 1/8000 with certain flash systems.
  • Remote flash compatibility for the Canon 550EX, 420EX and 220EX on the FlexTT5.
  • Automatic HSS Trigger Timing for Manual Flash. This allows you to mix a manual flash with an E-TTL II flash in HSS/FP Sync shots at 1/640 and above with certain flash systems.
  • Auto Trigger Select for ControlTL. The hot shoe on both the MiniTT1 and Flex TT5 will now trigger just about any hot shoe flash placed into it in addition to the Canon Speedlite’s it is designed for. Yes, you can now fire just about any hot shoe flash including Vivatar, Nikon, etc., in manual mode (max trigger voltage < 50V, use P2 port for up to 200V)
  • Continuous Remote Camera Triggering (FlexTT5 only). This allows for triggering a continuous motor drive burst of a camera connected to the P1 port on a remote FlexTT5.
  • Transmitter Only Mode (FlexTT5 only). This prevents triggering of a flash mounted on a FlexTT5 used as a transmitter by other photographers in the area using PocketWizard radios

* Please read the Release Notes (Manual Addendum) for details concerning these new features.

In addition, bugs in the first release of the firmware were corrected including:

  • 430EX full operation.
  • 580EX (both I & II) full compatibility with custom functions.
  • Shutter speed limiting has been corrected.
  • Auto-relay mode working properly.
  • FlexTT5 P2 port triggering working properly.
  • FlexTT5 test button trigger time delay corrected.

To support the new features the PocketWizard Utility has also been updated. New product shipments with the latest firmware and utility will begin next week. Current owners should visit to download both the new utility (v1.18) and the firmware (v4.10).

PocketWizard products are made by LPA Design, based in South Burlington, Vermont and sold by distributors around the world including the MAC Group in the USA.

For more information: email

Coffee and Cameras


I’ll be at Maui Wowi (San Tan Village) Wednesday April 1, 2009 at 6:00pm. Come hang out! Bring your camera, flash, tripod, or just a smile. We’ll be meeting fellow photographers for a couple hours of fun. There is no agenda other than meeting other photographers and taking a walk around San Tan Village with our cameras.

This is the perfect time to practice your photography. You can get help from me or other photographers who are there.

The cost? Just buy a coffee and you’re good to go. I hope to see you there!

Click here for a map to Maui Wowi

Fun at the On-Camera flash workshop

Yesterday I taught another session of my on-camera flash workshop. We had a blast. Here are a few photos of the field trip that immediately follows the workshop.

students experimenting with high speed shutter sync

Before the sun went down we all went outside to experiment with high speed shutter sync. The sun was getting low in the sky so students shot into the sun and away from the sun to see the different effects the ambient light had on the image.

students on Mill Ave practicing with their flashes

After we grabbed something to eat we headed out to Mill Avenue in Tempe for some fun practicing. Here students are taking photos of Melanie, a friend of one of our students. Students were able to practice balancing ambient light with the light from their flash. We also played with color correcting gels to illustrate how to fix color temperature problems.


The lovely Melanie. I didn’t plan on having a model during the field trip so it was a bonus when Melanie joined us. She’s an actress by trade but was willing to pose for a few shots during the outing. Thank you so much Melanie!


After shooting with Melanie we headed down the street and found Tom Nalley about to begin his one man show. He agreed to let us photograph him during a few of his songs. This dude was a terrific musician. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a website. I’ll try to find more information about him because his music was really great.


A few students taking shots of Tom Nalley.


With all of our flashes firing people started to gather to see what was happening. We continued to shoot until Tom had a bit of a crowd and then we quietly made our exit. We wanted to make sure our workshop didn’t ruin a night of work for Tom.


Here’s one of my shots of Tom. I was showing students how to use rear curtain shutter sync to get some interesting effects. Tom was very energetic and I wanted to capture some of that movement in my photo.

Our next on-camera flash workshop is Saturday, April 25. I hope you can join us.

Southwest Studio Lighting Workshop

On June 20-21, 2009 at Loft19 Studios we’ll be hosting a two day studio lighting extravaganza. The dates have been set, the details are in the works, but we have enough put together to give you the heads up.

Loft19 is a huge 7,000 sq ft studio and we plan to fill it with numerous lighting setups for you to use. We’ll have different lighting “stations” preset for fashion, portrait, glamour, and other lighting styles. Each station will have a lighting coach to help you as you shoot. We’ll also have models at each station.

In addition to the lighting stations we’ll be offering a morning workshop for those who are brand new to studio lighting. This is the exact same session you’d get if you attend our Studio Lighting 101 workshop.

But wait, that’s not all! We’re also offering a photo review session after all the shooting is finished. If you’d like a professional to review your photos and give you an honest critique this is the place.

We’ve created a pricing structure to keep the workshop as affordable as possible. You can shoot for two days for just $200. If you want more than just the shooting experience it’s a bit more.

Our tentative schedule looks like this:

Saturday June 20, 2009

8:00-8:30am Registration
8:30-12:00am Morning workshops (Studio lighting 101, others TBA).
12:00-1:00pm Lunch/Registration
1:00-6:00pm Lighting Session 1 (shooting at the “stations”)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

8:00am-12:00pm Lighting Session 2
12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch
1:00 – 5:00pm Photo Review/Critique Session

Admission Prices

As I mentioned, we want to make this as affordable as possible so we’re offering four different packages:

  • Bronze – $200
    • Access to both lighting sessions
  • Silver – $350
    • Saturday morning workshop
    • Access to both lighting sessions
  • Gold – $400
    • Access to both lighting sessions
    • Photo review/critique session
  • Platinum – $500
    • Saturday morning workshop
    • Access to both lighting sessions
    • Photo review/critique session

We’re working out the final details for the morning sessions and the lighting setups we’ll offer. We should have all the details nailed down early next week. We’ll let you know soon!