14 — Cuerno de Chivo

Some people buy art to hang on their walls — not Shane, he waned an AK-47 to sit above his mantelpiece. Who can blame him? It’s probably one of the most famous weapons in history, involved in nearly every major conflict world wide since it’s birth in the 1940s. You can drive over it with a tank, fill it full of mud, use it as a pez dispenser and it’ll keep on going — good work Mikhail Kalashnikov!

This shoot was not only the first time I got to hold an AK, but also the first time I got to play with my new PocketWizards. I’m probably on my 3rd or 4th set of  Yongnuo RF-602s and while I stand by them being a great budget trigger system, I have been wanting to upgrade for a while. Over the past few months I’ve been furiously deliberating want vs need with the PocketWizards. This week I made the decision and picked up a Mini TT1, 3 Flex TT5s and an AC3 Zone controller. (Blog post on these to follow soon!)

They work in perfect harmony with my Canon speedlites. The 2 features I’ll be taking advantage of the most are high speed sync & the ability to adjust the flash power output from the top of the camera. No more climbing up my boom arm, ripping open my soft box, adjusting the power, taking a photo, realising the power needs adjusting again, you get the idea…

I took this shot at about 6pm with the sun high in the sky, but shooting at 1/500th and ISO 50 meant I could cut out all the ambiant light I wanted and light the location my way. Awesome!

Image 14 of 52

Cuerno de Chivo - Cuerno de Chivo Re-edit Photographed by Rick Nunn
Cuerno de Chivo - Cuerno de Chivo Alternate Photographed by Rick Nunn

I took this shot at 1/4000th of a second… the high speed sync on the PocketWizard Flex/Mini is amazing!

Behind The Scenes

I'd been to this warehouse before, just over a year ago, & it was a lot less… erm… messy? Shame it's been abused so much, it's such a cool location.
Cuerno de Chivo - Cuerno de Chivo Setup Photographed by Rick Nunn

Lighting Diagram

Lighting Diagram for Cuerno de Chivo


Camera Settings

  • Shutter Speed: 1/500th!!!
  • Aperture: F/1.4
  • ISO: 50


  • All I can say is 1/500th!

  • BOOM!

  • Tim Lovelady

    Hi Rick, I “get” why HSS is useful, especially when shooting toward the Sun at wide apertures. But since you were in a warehouse, why not just use an ND filter or stop down a bit?

  • Hey Tim,

    Your right I could have gotten away with using an ND filter for this shot. But I’m really not keen on them. Unless you’re spending big bucks there will be, in my experience, loss of colour & sharpness, some will even cause vignetting (especially on full frame). They also aren’t as flexible as just rolling your shutter speed up or down to suit. It’s harder to focus when you have an ND filter on your camera… And on top of that, as you say, shooting into the sun, an ND will mess up the sexy flare… etc…

    I’d also have to buy one for every lens I own. Put it on/take it off when ever I’m changing setups etc… And I couldn’t use it for sports or any other shot where I wanted to freeze action like my coffee shots.

    I figure HSS is the simpler choice :)

  • Tim Lovelady

    Did you have a look at the new YN-622 triggers? £50 a pair and they do TTL, HSS up to 1/8000s, 2nd curtain sync and you can manually adjust flash output via the in-camera menu. My money’s on them when the time is right, can’t afford the Pocket Wizards!

  • Tim Lovelady

    P.S did you get to fire the AK? I had a go on my cousin’s Glock 9mm recently and it was fun but i can imagine the AK is a whole different world…

  • I have looked at them and decided against them. Few of the gripes that spring to mind:

    They don’t have a screw mount on the bottom any more, the RF-602s did, but they removed it in the RF603s. I’ll never mount any of my flashes onto a light stand without a screw mount again. Lost a 430ex that way :( No screw mount, plus the fact that the plastic 602s has gone brittle after a fair amount of use (To be expected with cheep Chinese stuff) means there is no way I’m comfortable mounting these…

    Also, adjusting the flash power through the camera menus is a hell of a task. It’d almost be quicker to do it manually.

    Few other bits too… I weighed up all the options, including the Phottix Odin and decided that the PWs were the ones that suited my needs best. And I have to say I couldn’t be happier with them :)

  • I didn’t, it’s actually completely de-activated. I added the muzzle flash in photoshop.

  • Tim Lovelady

    That’s fair enough re. the PW’s. Yongnuo stuff is very good for the price though and seem to be developing at quite some pace. My 602’s are still going strong. Good work on the muzzle flash by the way.


  • shane poole

    Great post, thanks for sharing…. now you have the pocket wizards, would you consider using ettl for the key light with power ratios for the other lights? or do you still prefer manual all the way

  • Manual all the way. Same way I’d never set my camera to auto — control & consistency.