Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Following the Light


"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.”        - George Eastman


Photography itself means writing with light, and those of us consumed by photography are hell bent on an endless quest of finding or creating the perfect light. In that quest, I wake up at ungodly early morning hours to find the magic light for a landscape and I try and study the Masters for how to utilize flashes and modifiers to create a beautiful light when the ambient alone isn't enough. 

Went to Photo NorthEast Convention two weeks ago and got inspired by several good speakers  - all whom made me painfully aware that I need to market, set firm prices despite "friendships", and get a better handle on how to light my subject. 

Got up early on a bitter cold Sunday morning to go out on a sunrise shoot. It being the last weekend of March, the world was still mighty brown and ugly and unfortunately I got separated from the leader, so never learned what he might have offered to the landscape. This was my best effort.
At least I've learned to find some light.

Learning how to light your subject was reinforced and focused on at the Flashbus Tour last Thursday in NYC which was AWESOME!!! I felt like I was at a Rock Concert, watching two of my favorite photojournalists talk a mile a minute about the different ways to enhance the image of the person you are shooting by using 1 or 2 speedlights. David "The Strobist" Hobby has been a total source of inspiration to me over the past few years, as he writes a daily blog and freely shares tips and techniques to lighting a subject.  A former Baltimore Sun photographer, David, like me, likes the story behind the photo and likes to present each photo in "a different light," which is to say that you have to determine what you are trying to say with the image and determine how best to light it. He showed an image of a female opera singer he took recently, singing in the shower, fully dressed with the water pouring down on her. He wanted to show her singing in the shower but still show her as a dignified, talented woman and he discussed how he got her to "get wet." And how he set up his lights to best capture that.  Really cool!!!

I lunched with a very nice couple from NJ who are totally getting into better lighting because they had their first granddaughter. I can relate to that! Really nice people and he was as crazy about reading Hobby and McNally's blogs and books and trying to figure out new scenarios for lighting.

Then, the dessert of the day was having Joe McNally talk all afternoon, while showing how he determines the lighting in similar situations. Joe comes with a crew who pose for him and hold his lights and generally just help him show himself off with a lot of fun. I've loved Joe for years. He is an incredible photographer, having shot covers and centerfolds for Life, National Geographic and Sports Illustrated, as well as a terrific writer and a humble, sweet human being. Once again he impressed me and taught me and entertained me - and a slew of other folks. At the end, both Hobby and McNally sat in chairs up front and took questions. Really an incredible day! Catch the FlashBus if it's coming your way.

Now I'm psyched. Bought myself a ring flash and Pocket Wizards and I'm dying to get out and find some folks to shoot.  Stay tuned!

Happy shooting!

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