Transform Your Self-Portraits With A Remote Shutter Controller
Have you ever made that dash from your camera to your focus point for the shot in three seconds, five seconds, or ten seconds? It doesn’t matter how much time you give yourself, it always seems like you’re making an awkward image. For the longest time, when I wanted to use my camera to make a great self-portrait, I had to rely on the built-in self-timer for my camera. It is difficult to focus on yourself as the subject and the photographer from behind the camera lens.
Smartphones are worse. Mounted the phone can be a hassle. Ensuring you have the right composition from the start is also a trial-and-terror experiment.
With both frustration and necessity, I’ve learned some better approaches that enable you get around the 10-second timer shot!
The Secret to Self-Portrait is Using Wireless Remotes
With my Sony cameras, I have two different kinds of remotes: a Sony RMT-DSLR2 Wireless Remote Commander and a Vello FreeWave Wireless Trigger. They both work differently and serve different use-case scenarios.
The Sony IR Remote is perfect when you are using a standard size lens on your camera body. The IR receiver is on the front of your camera and when it needs a line-of-sight view to trigger the shutter. If you’re using a larger sports lens or anything above 77mm with a hood attached, that line of sight will be difficult to obtain from directly in front of the camera. Over time, I have mostly abandoned the IR remote in favor of other options.
The Vello Wireless Trigger is a better option for triggering the shutter, Off-Camera-Flash (OCF), and for the adventurous a second camera. The Vello uses radio signals like Wi-Fi so that you are not bound by line-of-sight issues and the lens choice for your artistic productions. Also, you gain the advantage of mounting your Speedlight Flash onto a trigger and placing it anywhere in the range of the shot you want to create. This gives much creative flexibility for almost any scenario. I love creating scenic landscape self-portraits with using the Vello outdoors to a wide shot.
Typically, those two options would satisfy most photographers looking for wireless remote shutter options. However, I have found one better.
Use Your Smartphone for Epic Self-Portraits
Sony led the market with a full-featured remote controller iOS and Android app for its E-Mount Alpha cameras. Using the built-in camera WI-FI, the remote app connects to the camera from a tablet or smartphone. What makes this option superior to simply using the IR Remote or the Wireless Trigger is the that you also get a view finder of your scene for your phone or tablet. With this, you can change your focus when you have an auto-focusing lens attached. Additionally, I use my remote with my studio strobe light remote equipment attached. This gives me the ability to trigger multiple studio strobe lights and build a beautiful scene.
Since the camera sends a JPEG image of each shot I make to my tablet, I can immediately evaluate and reset without ever having to go to the back of the camera. This technique is such a game-changer in my production workflow that I use it in my studio portraiture. It provides a means to quickly show my talent or client the images we are making. Shooting with a tablet helps me direct and pose my subject to produce the best results.
The other benefit of using the Smartphone apps is that I can tether my camera to my laptop and also have each shot ready for post-production immediately. Any technique that can speed up your production workflow enables you to provide more value to your client and faster turnaround on your final products.
Go experiment and experience remote shooting for yourself. I’m sure you’ll find other scenarios where it is beneficial to your image to get your finger far and away from the camera.
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