Thursday, November 12, 2009

Old Toys and New Obsessions

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

I'm glad that I stirred up some curiosity. But, Earl added an element of urgency by claiming that he was turning blue and passing out from holding his breath. He is a big kidder; still, just in case, I thought it would be better to quickly spill the beans. Besides, I have another shoot scheduled for tomorrow afternoon and some preparations to handle before then. Today, the fog is thicker than the proverbial pea soup. Tomorrow could prove very interesting. I'm sure there will be lessons to be learned.

I hope you didn't have your hopes up for something truly exciting here. I think you know me better. This isn’t really a big deal—just something new to me. First, I have to say that there are a gazillion things wrong with the photos here. They pretty much stink in more ways than I can count. For example, don’t you just love the line cutting through The Husband’s head? And that shadow into his camera right eye. Wow! Charming, no? No. I was thinking only about exposing for that sky and a certain kind of light on his face. It would have been nice if we had had a ladder handy to get his head up in the clouds. The second photo? Another long list that I won't start on. Still, you have to crawl before you can walk, right? Maybe this lighting business is ho-hum old hat stuff to most of you, but there are plenty new challenges in it for me.

The idea of working with more than natural light has been rattling around in the back of my mind for some time. The problem was that it was way back in a well-hidden corner and, mostly, I ignored the rattling. Probably close to two years ago, I bought a 580EX flash. Then maybe a year later, I got the 430EX. I was curious and was certain that, eventually, I would fully explore studio lighting. From time to time, I did play around a bit with both flash units, but the whole notion of using anything other than natural light just never quite took. At one point, I briefly considered selling at least half of my lighting equipment. However, before I could act on that thought, I would always have a flurry of interest that lasted a minute and a half. Long enough to put off selling—not long enough to develop any expertise. What it came down to was I didn’t have that much interest in shooting things that you could bring indoors. Horses and landscapes in the living room? Probably not. Don’t ask why that obvious disconnect didn’t stop me up front. Sometimes, I’m just slow.

Finally, I have gotten a glimmer as why those speedlights have been taking up space and have begun to investigate, with some seriousness, using supplemental light outdoors. It’s not something I have grasped readily, unfortunately. Rather, it has been a major challenge. Still, if you aren’t terribly smart and you lack talent, the next best thing is being stubbornly persistent. I have read I don’t know how many articles online in an attempt to cram some of this information into my brain. Yes, it still feels much like trying to jam a square peg into a round hole, but I know a little more now than when I started. I have photographed the strangest things in our house and burned up more than a couple of AA batteries. But, I am beginning to get a sense of where I want to go with this.

The next steps include a great deal more experimentation outside, because that’s where I really want to work. Moreover, I have to catch The Husband with spare time and in a willing mood. (Tomorrow I have another subject and The Husband is going to be provide me with a voice-activated lightstand.) Getting a handle on this new thing is going to take quite a while and yes, the delay of winter will exasperate. This is a lousy time of year to finally figure out where I want to go next. But, it's comforting to know that I have that stubborn persistence thing on my side. Because, there are images in my head and, by gum, I want to see them on my monitor someday.


  1. Anita, Thanks! It was well worth holding my breath. ~grin~ Your new direction is wonderful and I'm sure it will give you a whole new dimension to your photography. Best of all, you sound excited!

    I've long thought of exploring artificial or supplemental lighting but have thus far avoided it like the plague. I'm just not at that point yet but I believe I'll go there one day in the future.

    As they say, even the longest journey begins with but one step so go at your own pace and don't feel you have to meet anyones goals.

    I hope you'll share your experiences so that we may all grow richer.

  2. I had a horse as a kid that we had to lock the back door or he would be in the house when we returned, so not out of the relm of possible for photos.
    Glad to see you are finally getting the off cam lighting thing going, believe me it isn't rocket science, just total control over the light and mood and story. If I can help or clear anything up or if you need links to help with the learning drop me an email. I actually have as much invested in lights as cameras. The VAL is a good idea it speeds up the "lets try this" of lighting.
    Above all have fun, digital learning is not that expensive as film. It looks to me like you have a pretty good handle on it as it is.

  3. Experimentation is a great thing. I can't wait to see some of the images that are awaiting to escape from your head!

  4. I've toyed with the lighting issue myself. My flash sits in my bad and always has. Seems kind of cumbersome to learn all that jazz--but I do think about it and toy with the possibilities in my head. Glad this is something that grabs you and Earl is right--best of all, you're excited about it. Have some fun, will look forward to watching the experimentation!

  5. Great start and you are to something that spins your prop and adds a new dimension in your work.

    You are be a bit over critical on the your Husband's portrait. 95% of the people who see it will not think twice about the ridge line running behind his head. It looks natural and places him in his element. After all you do live in a valley. You got his eyes in the light with great catch lights and the shadow of his nose could be brought up a bit in PP. To me it is a striking portrait and if I were him I would be proud of it.

    I do not know if you enjoy reading, but one of my favorite books on small flash work is "The Moment it Clicks" by Joe McNally. He has a ton of equipment, so I have to put that aside and use the parts I can with what I have. His stories, examples and explanations are worth thrice the price of admission.

    You are off to a wonderful start and don't forget to have some 1/4 cut CTO to warm it up a bit.

    My best,

  6. Carefull now soon you'll be going down the same road as Hollywood.

  7. But what about the rock band???


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