This weekend is the 25th Anniversary of Labyrinthe, a Live Role Play organisation that runs events in a number of locations in the UK. The CMT (Cave Management Team) use part of the Chislehurst Caves, almost on my door step! I’d visited the caves as a child and had missed the fact that Labyrinthe had set up there since. I’d picked up a copy of the Metro paper Friday morning and spotted the article on the weekends event. I thought it might make a great place to try out the Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 + Flex TT5 to see how well they performed and what issues I might face. I’m shooting a wedding and reception party next weekend and wanted to find out any “got-cha” issues before the big day and shooting with flash off camera in the evening. I put the softbox, flash and light stand mount together and put it on top of my monopod. My own Wizards staff! 😉
There are over 20 miles of passages in the caves, of which Labyrinthe have access to several. I was given a quick guided tour of the playing area and told some simple rules that would ensure players would “not see me” and pass me by unharmed. People from all walks of life come to play the games and I was told some are quite shy and wouldn’t want photos taken, I must ask first. Having done the 100Strangers project this felt quite normal.

Graham of Tallows FX was there with an impressive range of swords, daggers, axes, war hammers, shields and other weapons. I was most surprised to find out just how light they were and the construction methods Graham used. When you’re playing these games in confined spaces getting hurt for real is the last thing anyone wants. His creations were getting quite a lot of interest.

Jo, one of the staff, asked to see the initial images I’d managed to capture and took it on herself to round up willing players for some more. I could do with someone like Jo as an assistant at some of the parties and weddings I shoot, she’s quite a persuasive person! Many thanks for your help!

There was what is to me a massive issue with using the PocketWizards and I’m glad I had to deal with it today. The 580EXII’s Focus Assist doesn’t kick in when the flash is taken off camera. When on camera the flash projects a red light pattern that helps the camera detect phase changes as it gets close to the perfect focus and lock on. Without it the lens continuously hunts from near to far, not getting the lock. We tried using the light from an iPhone to help get a lock but the focus didn’t hold. In the end we had to sit people at the tables of the tavern, a candle light being enough to get a lock. I’m finding a number of contradictory blog posts on it working or not for others with a 580EXII, so will have to get onto the phone to the PocketWizard staff Monday to confirm when the AF-Assist feature of the product is expected to function. If it’s a “no” unless the flash is on top of the Mini TT1 then an ST-E2 might be needed just to project an assist beam. The ST-E2 might come in handy when shooting in churches without flash too as the light levels are often low making autofocus hard.

Many thanks to the players and staff for letting me experiment! Images that made it pass the focus check sorting can be found here

Proceeds from the event go to two charities the team support, one of which I was told takes problem children to South Africa to help look after children with Aids, which helps both groups of children. Having fun playing games that helps a worthy cause? What a great way to spend the weekend!