After the past three or four days, I feel like I did sitting in the school principal’s office, waiting for the imminent whipping. It is in those times that you would do anything to avoid what is coming, and it is not so much the physical beating as much as it is the emotional tension of having to look your bad decision in the face.
My current humbling experience all started a few days ago with a wonderful meal and talk with a photographer friend of mine. It was not him, but just watching some of the videos he has produced recently really reminded me what a two-bit punk hack I am. It was not the technique, but how he captured the power of the story.
Then today, I shot a very “ok” family portrait session. That is “ok”, as in, I do not want to say more of what I really think. The harsh sunlight made things tough, not only for lighting, but for the quickly wilting subjects. Excuses aside, though, I really want to know what happened. How do I improve? What can I learn here?
I have been trying lots of different flash setups lately (optical, radio, bounce, etc), but I tend to fall back on optical triggering because it is the most trustworthy and versatile of my options. Of course, I would love to grab a pair of Pocket Wizards, but hey, you donate a pair, and I will certainly put them to use!
If you have a normal flash mount (just found out Sony uses their own “standard”…punks), you can easily buy a little optical trigger for no more than $15. You slide that baby on the bottom of your flash, and then when any other flash goes off, it will trigger that flash. So, the pop up flash will trigger it, or hey, I have even used my point and shoot flash to set off my speedlight!
But that is not the end.
Want to move into the world of flash and do not know where to start? What flash should you buy? Where do you even start learning how to use the flash? Do you just clip it on and set it to automatic, or do you dare explore the beautiful and expansive world of off-camera flash?
A couple days ago, a friend of mine mentioned (just in an off comment, he probably did not think I would blog about it) that his next purchase was going to be a flash. For me, that set off all kinds of alarms. I know he is just an amateur working on a budget like many of us, and I also knew a little knowledge about flash photography could easily save him a couple hundred dollars.
How did the masters use light? Painters, I mean. I had not really thought about it. I mean, I knew folks like Monet (I think it was him…I cannot quite remember) actually moved house to a new village just because the light there was better. Still it is easy to think, “Hey, it’s paint, they can make whatever light they want!”
Well, I just read a great (mock) Rembrandt interview over at the Strobist. That is right, Rembrandt, in the not-so-flesh, is going on record to help us understand how he controls light to achieve his desired results. Warning: the Strobist is all about off-camera flash photography, so if that is not your thing, it might be too photo-techy. Of course, if photography and lighting ARE your thing, you might hurt yourself laughing! A work of genius! Laugh and learn.