Leading a Photography Lighting Workshop   

getting-ready

photographers

reflector

modeling

having-fun

checking

American photographer David Hobby, author of the lighting blog Strobist that promotes lighting techniques, wrote about learning to use flash, “You may not realize it yet, but you have just stepped through a door that may change your photography forever…Photography is literally writing with light.” And he continues, “…you’ll learn how to take control of your electronic flash. If you can imagine it, you’ll be able to create it.”

I like using flash, and in my many years as a working photographer I rarely photographed people indoors or out without using a flash; and last Sunday with Hobby’s words in mind I led yet another interactive lighting workshop.

Actually I wonder if “study group” might be a better description of what happens when several photographers get together to experiment with flash. Nevertheless, these sessions are always an enjoyable whirlwind session for me as I try to present as much information as I can without reaching information-overload for the participants.

As photographers in the workshop begin to realize how much better, and more creative, their portraits are when they begin taking control of electronic flash they get excited. That excitement is contagious. So much so that I have to remind myself to slow down and explain what I am doing and why I am doing it when I add lights to a portrait setup.

Sunday’s group of photographers were quick learners and were demanding as they pushed limits and exhausted the model, then without skipping a beat, when our ever-so-patient model needed a break, one of the photographers took her place and the group kept on going.

I remember reading a book entitled, Teaching as a Subversive Activity, about student-centered learning over teacher-centered teaching. Sometimes one has to step back from being the center of attention and let people learn by themselves.

When I realized those photographers had reached the point where they were beginning to understand where I was leading them, I just got out of their way and let them be, besides that gave me some time to wander a bit and take some pictures of what was happening.

This first of two sessions, Modeling with Lighting in the Studio is now over.

Next Sunday we’ll be braving British Columbia’s cool October weather as we take our model outdoors to pose in several different locations with different lighting conditions in each. I entitled that, Balancing Lighting Out-Of-Doors.

In the studio we used large and powerful studio lights that recycled instantly. Next Sunday we will use much less powerful, small wireless speedlights that require waiting for batteries to recycle. The quick recycling studio lights are grand, but I like the slower speedlights because they force photographers to think about and plan their next shot.

Last weekend was a lot a fun. It is great being with other photographers and watching them get excited about learning something new. Saying that, I will add a quote by French photographerJacques-Henri Lartigue that I have used several times before, “It’s marvellous, marvellous! Nothing will ever be as much fun. I’m going to photograph everything, everything!”

 

 

Photographing models at a Strobist meet.

Stephanie4 Molly 2 Monica 1 Stephanie 2 Molly Monica3 Stephani 3

Last Sunday I joined six other photographers and three models at photographer, Dave Monsees’, rural studio for what Dave organized and referred to as a Strobist work session.

The rustic studio, nestled beside a stream in a picturesque treed valley, is a short ten-minute drive from city center to the rural community of Cherry Creek, British Columbia. I had heard about it from other photographers and was looking forward to his Strobist session so I could check the studio out, and, of course, spend the afternoon with like-minded photographers. Now what could be better than that?

This Strobist get-together was the third held in my area that I have been fortunate enough to attend, and as with the first two, it had its own uniqueness.

Some of the participants had experience using off-camera lighting and got right to the business of arranging lights and posing our three models for the day, Molly Lampreau, Stephanie Johannesen, and Monica Nicklas.  I had agreed to begin with a mini lesson and to be available to answer questions for those invitees that were just beginning to enhance their portrait photography with artificial light, and with a few minutes of instruction and a bit of prompting before long everyone was in the act of portrait photography.

The word, Strobist, and gatherings like the one I was invited to have become popular because of American photographer, David Hobby’s, Strobist.com lighting blog that promotes off-camera lighting techniques among photographic enthusiasts, with an emphasis on the practical knowledge rather than just the gear. Those that think our meets in Kamloops are unique should try searching Stobist meet on the Internet. There will be page after page featuring Strobist meets all over the world.

My regular readers know that I rarely make a photograph of people, indoors or out, without using a flash. So getting together with other photographers, experienced or not, that like to use off-camera light for their portrait work is fun. The studio was jam packed with lighting equipment set up with wireless camera connection. There were two different backdrop set-ups and we had our choice of several larger studio type lights in the larger space, and some smaller hotshoe flashes on stands in the more intimate space. There were also lots of light modifiers, softboxes, umbrellas, snoots, barn doors, and so on for us to employ.

How a person in a portrait appears does have a lot to do with how the subject(s) are posed, but I think light and how it is applied is just as important. Using flash, on or off camera, to modify light gives a photographer more control than just using the sun, or relying on a high ISO.

In addition photographers always need to explore and experiment to learn how to balance the background, or ambient light, with flash, and get-togethers like a Strobist meet are perfect for practicing off-camera lighting in a studio, with willing subjects without the pressure of actual clients, and watching other photographers work is always fun.

I was in a hurry to download my images from that day and began sorting, editing and optimizing as soon as I got home. As I opened PhotoShop and began, I thought of a quote by American supermodel Tyra Banks that fit the day of photography from beginning to end, “There are three key things for good photography: The camera, lighting, and…PhotoShop”.  In my opinion there might be a few more important things for good photography, but to a model the final picture is everything.

I appreciate you comments.

My website is at www.enmanscamera.com