Bokeh Monster. The Nikon 105mm f2.0 Defocus Coupling Lens. Wanna see the background disappear into a luxurious blur? Maybe get one...

 Two interesting tools. The Kodak DCS 760C camera with its amazing 6 megapixel CCD sensor and the Nikon 105mm DC lens. I photographed this person for an ad campaign for the Austin Lyric Opera. The background is way, way far away. It's lit with a 1,000 watt tungsten light shining through two layers of 6x6 foot silk on a frame. The background is also lit with a tungsten light. 

It's a nice look even now. Today's highly corrected lenses are too linear in the way the background focus falls off. It looks too "cookie cutter" even with (or maybe even more!) with today's highly corrected lenses. The sharp is too sharp and the transition to "blur" seems too obvious.

The Nikon 105mm and 135mm DC lenses had it just right. Designed at a time when unique-ness was more highly valued? 

Essential Flash Trigger Trick for the Godox X1T Wireless Trigger.

Radiologist in a reading room.

Shot quick with totally manual, battery powered, hot shoe flashes.

I struggle when there are too many options on a flash or a flash trigger. I guess it's from coming of age in photography during a period when the biggest control on a studio flash was "on or off." I mostly buy "dumb" flashes for everyday use and I'm generally confounded when I'm setting up a monolight or battery powered flash on a location, under a deadline, and my hand accidentally brushes against a button and all of a sudden the flash throws itself into some mode where it triggers five times at some weird power whenever I hit the camera's shutter button. I race through the menus trying to figure out how to turn off all the weird menu features that I can't imagine any photographer actually wanting, just trying to get back to a fully manual configuration. Sometimes I just can't seem to persuade a unit to relent and let me have some say in its settings. 

Where am I going with this? Well, I have two flash triggers that vex me whenever I use more than one flash at a time and use the Godox X1T trigger to fire the flash. What I want to do is set each flash individually and have them stay where I set them. I guess I can do exactly this if I sit down, read the manual, then put each flash into a different group, set each group to manual on the trigger device, and then adjust each group to a manually set power output. But it seems far easier to me to just reach up and set each flash to the power I'd like it to put out as I set each flash up by using controls on the flash itself. Sure, doing it all from the trigger on the camera's hotshoe is probably easier than going to each monolight and setting a dial with one's fingers but in the middle of the shoot knowing which flash is in which group can get fuzzy. I just want them to stay set in the mode and power output I've chosen and to stay there. I know that's not au courant or cool or particularly efficient but can't a trigger be just a trigger?

Well, apparently it can. After owning these things for years and cursing them repeatedly I've finally decided to find a solution. As it would turn out, if I had just read the f-ing manual I would have already known. 

There is a procedure that will allow you to render your trigger into a dumb, one trick pony. You can go into the custom functions, go to custom function # one and turn off all the electrical contacts except for the actual, standard triggering contact. The big fat, center contact that works on almost all cameras. Once you do that you can ignore all the other stuff (as long as you match the channel settings on the flash and the camera). Now you have the equivalent of my ancient, Wein, infra-red trigger. There are no settings to think about, you push the shutter button and the shoe-mounted device sends a radio signal to the receiver unit in every flash set to the same channel and just makes them trigger. No ever-changing settings, no fuss.

I understand that you might want to control everything from camera if you are working in a situation in which you need to change ratios all the time (although I can't imagine the scenario off hand). Then, I guess it makes sense to have the control from the camera. But being fluid in that methodology requires you to practice using the gear this way more frequently than I do.

There are a couple of benefits to turning off all the unnecessary electrical connections and just having signal at the center post. 

I bought one trigger when I was using a lot of Olympus cameras. That trigger is dedicated to that system. I bought another trigger to use the flashes with Fuji cameras and that trigger is dedicated to the Fuji hot shoe configuration. There's a chance, when using a trigger made for one brand on a camera that has different signals at different contacts, of either messing up your exposures and settings or even frying the tender electronics in mismatched cameras. And that would be really bad. Especially on a quick action shoot.

By turning off all the automatic contacts on each trigger and allowing only the simple, universal contact that allows the camera to trigger the trigger, each X1T becomes a safe, universal trigger across all the cameras I own and use. 

By turning off the automatic stuff I can use either trigger on my Leicas, Panasonic S series cameras or even my Fuji X100V's. No excess brainwork required. All concentration can be centered on working with the subjects and working on composition. I wish every flash device had a big button on it somewhere that hapless photographers like me could just push and go straight into a "bulletproof" manual mode; no questions asked. Till then, at least with my X1T triggers, there's always FN 2.