My friend, Dave Monsees, decided to host another Strobist Meet-up at his photography studio, and I was definitely up for that. I like trudging around photographing snowy scenics, but, the thought of spending a photo-filled day in a warm, wood-heated studio was enticing, and when he extended the invite I didn’t hesitate to accept.
My request to the other photographers was to continually change the two lighting setups that we were using. I had participated in past meets, and, they were fun and photographers got to make lots of pictures of models; however, even though the resulting pictures were great, the lighting remained basically static for every image. For this day I wanted to change the modeling lights and modifiers every hour.
That meant photographers and models had to rethink what they were trying to do, but after the first change everyone got into the swing and began to get really innovative. Photographers changed lenses, shooting angles, helped each other out by moving the lighting around, and our models went through several clothing changes and were as involved in the creative process as the photographers.
The studio had lots of lighting equipment set up with wireless camera connectors for each photographer. There were two different backdrop set-ups, and we had our choice of lights and modifiers like softboxes, umbrellas, snoots, barn doors, and reflectors.
When I wrote about the last studio meet-up I attended I said that photographers always need to explore and experiment, and get-togethers like this are perfect for practicing off-camera lighting in a studio (that most photographers don’t have access to) without the pressure of actual clients, and it is a fun way to refine one’s skills. Monsees commented that he liked being around fun people with a true passion for photography, and dedicated to off-camera flash. He also said that he enjoyed himself so much that he intends to try to have photographer and model get-togethers in his studio every month if he can.
Although photographers have been using off-camera light nearly as long as they have been making portraits of people, that practice has really been limited to a few that owned studios. Recently all that has been changing what with quickly advancing camera technology, and the word “strobist” now refers to a photographer who uses off-camera flash to take pictures, instead of the usual pop-up flash, or hotshoe flash attached on top of the camera.
I am often asked, “Why use off-camera flash?” Instead of using just a camera, one must lug around a light stand and a flash. That means carrying extra weight. Sometimes a photographer would require an assistant since weather conditions might knock over the light when shooting outdoors. My response to the question is, “Better pictures.” Light is the language of photography. Without light there are no photos. With off-camera light one adds light and control over the final image. Adding light might introduce drama in a picture and can increase detail or hide it. The extra work greatly affects the output.
I like quotes and here is one regarding light from George Eastman, American innovator and entrepreneur, who founded the Eastman Kodak Company and invented roll film. He summed it up for me when he said, “Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”
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