Product Spotlight: iO Shutter

March 21st, 2013
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After spending years trying to figure out what I loved to shoot the most, I’ve been able to narrow it down to two basic genres: Landscapes and Portraits. Naturally, I’m going to pack my equipment based on what I’m shooting, but every once in a while I’m caught under-prepared. Of all the things I generally carry to a shoot, there are very few items that I can say have single-handedly saved the day…the ioShutter™ shutter release cable did just that. 

I had a last minute portrait session come up with an old friend. Admittedly I was caught a bit off-guard but I definitely was not going to pass on it. But now I was forced to improvise quickly; no time to get lights, no stylist, no time to find a hair/makeup artist, and no time to wrangle an assistant. Just the basics: Camera, hot-shoe flash, reflector, tripod, a few gels, my phone (which I never leave without), and the ioShutter™. Off I went with no time to prep anything else.

Fortunately, one of my favorite parts of a shoot is creative problem solving. This requires working with what you have on hand in order to get the shot you need. It’s not always easy, and things can definitely go awry. On the flip side, there is a slightly greater sense of satisfaction when it works out. However, inspiration is a hard thing to force.

I arrived at the location and promptly started going through the available outfits for her. Red dress? Done, that will work great, now on to the composition. Enter the ioShutter™, which is a multi-function shutter release cable that you can control directly from your iPhone.

I started off by taking a number of test shots, made much easier by the awesome sound activated feature the ioShutter™ offers. I was able to simply say the word “Go” and it would release the shutter, allowing me to use both hands to maneuver the camera into position on the tripod. Having the ability to get the test shots in was key because I was working around the clutter left behind by my friend’s two young daughters’ arts-and-crafts sessions. As I took more test shots an idea began to formulate in my mind. I was finally finding the inspiration that I needed despite the chaos of my surroundings. 

First off, the overhead light wasn’t going to work, so I tried to get that ironed out with my single flash. I quickly realized the Bulb setting offered by the ioShutter™ that I usually use for landscapes wouldn’t really work in this case, since any movement by the model would result in ghosting. So I used the Time Lapse feature, making it possible for me to essentially be in five places at once. This enabled me to get the cross-light effect that I love by turning on the time lapse (which my camera is without) and running from position to position, popping the flash off.

Next, I always like to have some sort of illustrative quality to a portrait rather than a straightforward headshot. Having been freed up to use my multiple light sources, I could really focus the light where I needed it to be to enhance the composition of my portrait. A mostly finished glass of wine is a great prop, and when combined with other little touches, like being barefoot next to the shoes and the stack of bills in the upper corner, it can really help create a story. Getting the wine to the mostly finished stage is a delicious way to break the ice as well! 

I had the shutter set to around 1s, giving me four seconds between each shutter click to move about. I really wanted to warm up the outside light sources, so I doubled up an orange gel and held that in front of the flash. After a bit of trial and error I realized that I needed to pop the flash a few times on those or else I would need to adjust the settings once I got inside. Since speed was of the essence, that was not really an option. On the inside lights I figured I would need two or three to get the shadows opened up and in a place where I was comfortable. 

The light was also a bit harsh, so I opted to soften it with some vellum. Having both hands occupied I never would have been able to point the flash in the right spot, pop it off, hold the gels/vellum in front, and try to fire off a shutter using any other remote. I’m not that talented. We did a few slightly different positions, and thanks to the ioShutter™ we were able to wrap the shoot in her narrow time-slot and I was able to get all the pieces I needed for the final image. 

The diagram above shows the final setup, and where I was running in between each of the time-lapse shots. The intent with this shoot was to take the best parts of each image and create a composite, giving me both the look and lighting that I needed. Since each shot was individual, ghosting was avoided and I could make the adjustments as needed if there was slight movement from shot to shot. I ended up combining five different images, blending each layer so the intended highlights show. 

In the end, I was quite pleased with how the final image turned out, and my friend couldn’t have been happier. I got my cross light, she got her shot, and everyone’s a winner.

Between the time-saving sound release and the shoot-saving time lapse, there’s no way I could have pulled off an image like this without the ioShutter™, and I barely touched the surface of what it can do! Since I always have my phone on me, and because this little gem can not only make shooting easier but also completely save it, it would be ridiculous not to have it with me for every shoot.                                                                                                                                                 

You may know Brian as one of the awesome and helpful ZenMasters at Zenfolio. Additionally, he’s a very gifted photographer. Shooting primarily aerial landscapes and illustrative portraits, Brian does whatever it takes to get the best shot possible. Often that means he is composing his work from a helicopter, but he is comfortable on the ground as well. Check out Brian’s impressive online portfolio.    
 Photo by: Rich Hockett,

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