Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Even More Wireless Photography with the Engenius 2611

In the previous two posts I have shown some typical configurations that you could use. So this post is really about the practical aspects of using these units.

There are a few things you need to be aware of.

1. The internal directional antenna has a horizontal spread of 70 degrees and a vertical spread of 35 degrees. There is signal available outside these limits and a quite usable signal even behind the unit. If using the internal aerial you can position the unit to point in the direction you are working to maximise the available signal strength.

2. An Omni-directional antenna is available for this unit. This will spread the signal evenly around the antenna but the signal range is shorter in all directions. As a rough guide you should consider the range of the omni antenna to be half that of the internal directional antenna.

3. The unit requires a 24 volt power supply. This can be supplied from batteries for the remote units. It is recommended that a DC converter is used if using batteries as this will ensure a constant and regulated 24 volt supply. Not all converters are equal. Some are very inefficient and will rapidly drain the battery. A clue to efficiency is how warm the converter gets. Solwise supply a unit to convert 12 volts to 24 volts. I have used a different unit but if you have no experience of selecting this type of unit then go for the safe option and use the recommended unit.

4. Height above ground of the unit is a big factor in getting the maximum range and signal strength out of the unit. For outdoor events I mount the unit at the server end on a 2.5 metre stand which goes on top of the van and is secured to the van with guy ropes. This gives me a total height of 4 to 4.5 metres for the unit.

5. This may sound obvious but the system should be set up and tested before you use it in anger. Document all your settings and clearly label each unit.

6. Consider the data throughput and the size of image being shot. If all you need is a medium sized jpeg then that is what you should shoot. Larger files just take longer to deliver over the system and if you are shooting rapidly you can fill the camera buffer as it backs up images waiting to be transmitted.

7. If you have multiple photographers you should consider setting up more than one network if the volume of data is likely to saturate one network.

8. Check that all files have transmitted regularly. You can do this on the camera with the Canon units. Resend those files which have not transmitted when you are back in range of an Access Point.

9. Your body is a great wifi shield. Try to maximise the available signal by not standing between the camera and the Access Point. Ideally position yourself so that the WFT unit on the camera has a clear line of sight to the the Access Point.

I'm sure I will think of some more and will add these as and when.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

More Wireless Photography with the Engenius 2611

If you followed the guide in the previous post you should have two Engenius units configured and be able to use them in two ways. The first configuration uses one Engenius unit as a simple wireless Access Point. The second configuration used two Engenius units and allowed you to set up a remote wireless Access Point for the camera to shoot to with a Client Bridge at the server end.

Configuration Three
Wired Client Bridge at the remote end and Access Point at the Server
This is a relatively simple variation of configuration two. The units can be used exactly as configured for Configuration Two. The big difference is that this time the Client Bridge will be at the remote end and the Access Point at the server PC.

Connect the Access Point to the server via Ethernet cable. Connect the camera to the Client Bridge via Ethernet cable. Set the camera up to use a wired connection (see your user guide).

This is a useful configuration for relatively static camera positions at the remote end. The transfer speed from camera to Client Bridge is fast and reliable (it is wired so it should be) and the Client Bridge and Access Point are only talking to each other so wireless speeds are usually as good as the connection allows.

Using this configuration you can also shoot wireless directly to the server if you are in range of the Access Point (as per Configuration One).

Configuration Four
Wired Client Bridge at the remote end connected to remote Access Point and Access Point at the Server

This is an extension of configuration three. Instead of connecting the camera to the Client Bridge at the remote end we connect a further Engenius unit set up as an Access Point. This remote Access point will require a unique SSID and should be on a different channel to the Client Bridge and Server Access Point. The camera will connect using wifi to Access Point Two at the remote end which will pass data (via Ethernet cable) to the Client Bridge which will talk to the Access Point at the Server. This configuration will allow you to cover the full area between the server and the remote location with wireless and select the Access Point (Access Point Two at the remote end or Access Point One at the server end) that you are closest to. The server AP and the Client Bridge unit should be facing each other. The 2nd Access Point can be facing away from the Client Bridge. This gives you coverage from the server unit to the Client Bridge and from the Client Bridge to the range of the second Access Point.

Configuration Five
Access points at Server and Remote end using WDS
This uses two units configured as Access Points (see Configuration One) both using the same channel but with unique IP addresses and a unique SSID for each unit. The units can be used exactly as configured for Configuration Two ie. one unit wired to the server and one unit as the remote unit. This configuration will allow you to cover the full area between the server and the remote location with wireless and select the Access Point that you are closest to. The advantage of this configuration is that it does not require a third unit configured as a Client Bridge (configuration four). However, it is slower as the remote unit is handling the wireless data for both the camera and the passing on of this data to the server Access Point. Also, unlike the 3 unit solution the 2 AP's should be facing each other and your working area is between them and immediately behind them.

Configure two Access points with the same channel but unique SSID and unique IP addresses. Then select the WDS option and enter the MAC addresses for both units in the fields provided (do this for both units). The MAC address to use is the second address of the two listed on the back of the Engenius units. On each unit set the Mac address of the other unit as enabled and its own address as disabled. I only enter both so that they are in the same place on the Mac address list and it gives me a convenient location to look them up.

Access Point One can now we connected to the server and Access Point Two used as the remote end. Select the SSID you are closest to on the camera. Shooting to Access Point One is exactly the same as shooting to a single Access Point configuration. Shooting to Access Point Two will start communication with Access Point One via the WDS service to pass data to the server. You can add further Access Points to create a web of coverage but each leg will have half the bandwidth of the previous leg.

This is a relatively simple and flexible way of using the Engenius units for maximum range and maximum coverage and only requires one channel. However, as stated, it can be slower due to the reduced available bandwidth and the use of WDS and MAC addresses is seen as little complex by some users.

I hope this has given you some ideas about the flexibility of the Engenius units and perhaps given you further options for their use. I have added some tips to using these units in a follow up post Usage Tips.

Wireless Photography with the Engenius 2611

The Access Point of choice for a large number of photographers is the Engenius 2611 Wireless AP/Client Bridge. This unit is originally designed for building to building wireless links but has a range of features which make it very suitable for use by photographers. These units are available in the UK from Solwise A small downside of these units is that they do not support the later 802.11n standard of wireless communications. They do support the 802.11b/g standard which is usually good enough for what we want.

When using any wireless solution the range (distance between units), obstructions, interference, transmission power and other wifi users (same or close channel) will affect wireless transmission speeds. A good general idea is to have a walk around any area you want to cover with wireless and plan how you will cover it before you start. I usually also channel scan using inSSIDer on the PC or an Android app on my phone before I set up. Remember for a clear channel you need two channels clear either side of the channel you intend to use. Sometimes you just have to go with the channel which has the weakest signal from other users.

Righto, on to the Engenius units. As the units ship the default IP address is If you are using the same address range (192.168.1.x) on your network then all is good and all you need to do is assign a fixed IP address to your PC which does not conflict with the Engenius unit and you are good to go. For our purposes we will assume you have set the PC address to If it is set to dynamically acquire an IP address using DHCP then you need to set it to a fixed IP address (plenty of guides on the internet for this one). Note: all IP masking for this configuration is

Communication with the Engenius unit is via a web browser so once you have it all plugged in and powered up just open a browser window and enter the address You will be prompted for a user name and password. The defaults are admin and admin. It is recommended that you change the password once you are happy that all is working (an option in the Engenius menu).

Once you have got this far we can run through a couple of set ups. The first part is applicable whichever configuration you later choose to use.

PC Set Up
You will need to set up a FTP file server on the PC. Filezilla Server (not client) is a good option. Create a user and set up some default FTP space (folder where incoming files will be saved). The properties of this folder (to the right of the folder name in Filezilla) need amending to allow Read and Write access to the selected folder. The defaults for everything else are fine for the FTP server. Now, make a note of your PC's IP address (if you have followed the above it will be You can find this in 'Networking' in the Control Panel (Windows) if you don't know it. As you will not be connecting to the internet you can disable any firewalls on the PC. Disabling the firewall avoids a lot of problems when testing your FTP access. At this point your PC is ready to accept incoming FTP requests and to save transferred files to the folder you designated.

Configuration One
Single Engenius as an Access Point
This is the simplest configuration you will use.
From the Engenius menu select 'System Properties'
Set the 'Device Name' to something that makes sense to you. 'AccessPoint1' for example.
Set the country code to UK.
Select Access Point from the 'Operation Mode' options and click 'Apply'.

From the Engenius menu select 'Wireless Network'
Select the b/g option.
Select a channel (6 for starters).
Create a unique SSID and enable it. Go for something simple when naming the SSID as you are going to have to enter this to the camera and complex SSIDs are a pain.
At this stage do not set any encryption. Once all is tested and you are happy the basics are working you can set encryption on the camera and the Engenius unit.
Click 'Apply'.

Set up your camera WFT unit to use the SSID you have just created. Refer to your camera manufacturers manual to do this. It is reasonably straight forward for most cameras but the menu and key combinations for each camera and WFT unit are generally unique to that combination so (call me lazy if you want) you will have to dig these out for yourself. You will need to set a unique IP address for the camera and you will need to enter the IP address of the FTP server (IP address of the machine running Filezilla, You will also need to enter the user name you created in Filezilla.

Check the FTP server is running on your PC and fire a shot on the camera. All being well you should see the image appear in the folder you specified in Filezilla.

Configuration Two
One Engenius as an Access Point and another as a Client Bridge
This configuration is designed to allow you to have an Engenius at the PC and an Engenius out in a field next to you. The PC Engenius will communicate with the field Engenius and the camera will also communicate with the field Engenius. The purpose of this configuration is to extend the range at which you can work from the PC. In a traditional networking set up the Client Bridge would be the remote end of the link and the server machine would be connected to the Access Point. However, we need wireless at the remote end so for our purposes we will reverse this and set up the Access Point (as per Configuration One) as the remote end and the Client Bridge at the server.

The Access Point should already be set up as per Configuration One. If you need to then go back and follow the instructions for Option One to set up the Access Point. Once set up the Access Point should be powered but no cable should now be attached to the LAN connector on the POE unit.

Plug an Ethernet cable into the server PC and into the POE unit for the Engenius which will be the Client Bridge.

Open the menu for the Client Bridge in a browser window -

Set up a unique IP address for the Client Bridge Engenius (the default is but this will conflict with our Access Point). Set the IP address for the Client Bridge to by changing it in 'IP Settings' and clicking 'Apply'.

Set up the Engenius as a Client Bridge by selecting 'Client Bridge' from the 'System Properties' menu. Set a Device Name and select the correct country code and click 'Apply'.

Select the 'Wireless Network' menu and set the SSID to the SSID you set in the Access Point. Click Apply.

Select 'Connection Status' on the Client Bridge Engenius menu and the status should show it is connected and using the SSID you specified.

At this point you should be able to shoot an image and it will be transferred from the camera to the Access Point and via the Access Point to the Client Bridge and then from the Client Bridge wired to the server machine and appear in your images folder.

You may notice it is a little slower (about half the speed) to transfer than using Configuation One (a direct connection to the Access point). A simple explanation is that the Access Point is doing two jobs. It is talking and listening to the camera and talking and listening to the Client Bridge. It cannot talk/listen to both at the same time so splits it time talking/listening to one or the other.

A limitation of this configuration is that you cannot shoot directly to the Client Bridge and must be in range of the Access Point to transfer images. This can be a limitation if you want to cover both the area around the server PC and the remote area with wireless cameras.

I have also posted some further configurations which will allow you to shoot at either end of the wireless system and/or are more suited to static remote cameras.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Creating a photographic style

At some point I am sure we all wished we had 'style'. I probably think about it once a week and my partner probably wishes I had style a few times a day. Anyhow, having style and creating a photographic style are two different things. If you are lucky you have both and the world is at your feet.

For our purposes I'm not going to worry about whether you have style but will concentrate on creating a style. One you are born with and the other you can develop. So, lets look at creating a style largely aimed at 'black tie' or social event photography. Whilst there is some opportunity to create a unique style for other types of event photography this is probably the genre which has the most opportunity to do this. Unfortunately, it also seems to be the genre in which individual styling is least applied. The primary reason for this is probably that Social Event photographers usually work under pressure and there is little time in the process to adjust lighting etc. for each couple or group being photographed.

As a social event photographer I will usually opt for the generic, tried and tested set ups and poses which work and which sell. This usually uses standard back drops, flat lighting, simple posing and easy processing. However, I don't need to change a lot to add an element of difference.

If we identify the elements that create the style of an image we can quickly see how we can change these elements to uniquely style our images. This in mind, lets look at these elements of style.

No backdrop, single colour (black, white etc.), standard mottled, lit backdrop, environmental (uses a feature of the venue), themed, green screen etc.

The choice of backdrop is probably the easiest starting point and will lead us naturally into how we light both the subject and the backdrop. Your photography can feature a specific type of back drop. For example you can use a grey backdrop and light one area with a gelled strobe with a snoot. The basic concept is then consistent throughout your images but the individual images can be posed to vary the effect of the coloured splash.

Soft lighting, harsh lighting, flat lighting, shadowed, sculpted, sharp fall off, separation light. Like backdrops we are spoilt for choice here. You can choose a painter style (Rembrandt lighting for example) or you can go flat (generally safe for events) or you can be a little less soft with the lights and make it your own. The number of lights, the size and type of light modifiers (bare bulb, umbrellas, softboxes etc) and the distance between subject and lights can be used to create a look which is different to the standard two lights at 30 to 45 degrees event set up. I regularly use a single large umbrella set about 20 degrees off centre. Big enough to give lots of even light but offset enough to create some light shadows on one side of the face.

There are as many poses as there are people. The standard poses have been developed over the years to cover singles, couples and groups. Yes, you can do something different but be sure that whatever you do is in keeping with your subjects tastes and expectations. Putting a wind machine on and having your subjects pose like they are head on into an Arctic gale is not likely to be popular with an elderly crowd at a black tie awards ceremony. Posing also opens up another variation which is where do the subjects look. They can look at the camera, at each other, into the distance, dreamily at some spot over the photographers shoulder etc. Wedding and fashion magazines can be a good source of inspiration for new poses. Don't be afraid to try something new or if you notice a look between a couple to recreate it.

A quick aside. Look at features which the subject will not want exaggerating (or even in the picture). A woman with wings under her arms is not going to thank you for shooting her side on with her arms draped over her partner and her wings swinging in the wind.

Close crop, wide crop, landscape, portrait, use of space. Whilst you can and will vary the crop significantly in event photography you can make a particular crop a feature of the image collection. Shooting or adding empty space in processing can create a very different look to an image.

The camera height and angle with respect to the subject will alter the perspective of the subject in the image. Feet will be smaller and heads bigger if shot with the subject looking up and the camera above head height and tilted down. This is the extreme but when you vary height and angle then you vary perspective. I usually try to shoot at a height relative to the subjects height. For children it does mean I kneel and then promise to diet as I get back up.

Focal Length
The choice of focal length should not be determined solely by how far away you are and how much you are trying to get into the image. We can take a close crop at 17mm and stand 4 feet away or move back and take the same shot at 50mm. In the 17mm shot the foremost facial features will be exaggerated and in the 50mm shot the features will look far more natural. We could take the same shot with a 300mm lens and compress the features. You can use focal length to manipulate perceived distance.

Depth of Field
Shallow, deep, face depth, eye only. Depth of field is one of those variables were it is easy to go for the safe option (set lights and camera to F8/F11 and stand 7 feet away) but can make a huge difference to the image and is not that difficult to adjust on the fly without having to adjust the lighting. When you set up your lights set the ISO on the camera to allow you to back off a couple of stops so you can go from F11 to F4 on the camera by just adjusting the aperture and ISO and not having to adjust the lights. This will allow you to do groups and selective focus single person shots quickly. Like the crop you can make a particular depth of field a feature of your photography and whilst it will not be a part of every image it can be dominant in the collection of images. Be careful with very shallow DOF as some will see the out of focus areas as a failure on your part.

Distance affects your Depth of Field and selection of focal length. Combine distance with crop, Aperture and Focal Length and you have a huge number of variations at your disposal.

Camera Rotation
Look for lead lines in groups and individuals. Lead lines will usually be formed by dress (a strong pattern or style) or pose. Rotate the camera to the line and shoot. The angle can be varied to make this bolder or weaker. Be careful though as it can make you look like you would not know a straight line even if you fell over one.

Sharpening, cropping, exposure, black level, grain etc. You can create an unlimited number of variations by adjusting these variable after capture. The style of processing you use is usually related to the lighting style. Hard lighting with strong sharpness and black levels is very different to soft lighting with no sharpening and a standard black level. A level of vignetting in post processing can be a subtle feature.

Colour White Balance
Warm, cold, creative. Colour White Balance can strongly affect the look of an image. In general for social event photography the colour balance should be set in camera and should be slightly warm. However, it is an element which you can change and changing it can be part of your style.

Colour or Black and White
A pretty fundamental one this one. You may choose to only print in B+W and make this part of your style. Not one to use at Proms unless you enjoy being beaten up by mothers.

You could add other elements but I hope I have covered the major ones here. Don't be afraid to try something different. A couple of small changes may well be enough to create enough of a difference without drawing any attention to exactly what is different.

Any variation of any one element has been done many millions of times over the years but put all the elements together and we have many millions of unique combinations and variations. Developing your own style can be an evolving process. You don't need to set a date and change all elements at once. Gradually change one or a selection of elements until you have a look you are happy with and that sells. Don't forget this is a business so having a unique look and style which identifies you is great but if no-one buys it then maybe that is not the style for you.

A parting thought. Style yourself. The most successful event photographers I know have something in common. Well groomed and well spoken. Remember that when you uniquely style your images the client is buying into you and your values and style. You are selling this concept from the moment they first set eyes on you and with the first words they hear.