Being a self taught photographer, I lack some basic technical skills in lighting. Jene had given me a pair of old hot lights, some defusion material, I bought another light on a boom stand for hair/head light and that’s what I worked with for a couple of years. Prior to that I shot with natural light. Yes, some of my images are stunning in spite of my lack of softboxes, umbrellas, beauty rings, flashes etc. BUT it limits the effects I can get. A year and half ago had gone to a seminar in the city hoping to learn how to use a speedlight. I learned more about what it can do than how to actually use one. I went out & bought a Canon 580EXII speedlight which pretty much sat in its case.
I have this overwhelming fear of playing with expensive toys that stems from childhood. “Don’t touch that, it was expensive, you don’t know what you’re doing” echoes in my mind. Eventually I do learn and sometimes master a skill, it’s just a more painful process than it needs to be and I tend to learn by being shown how to rather than reading an instruction manual. This is a personal issue and at my age, I really need to put that behind me.
The thought of having a piece of equipment and not using it is stupid, not to mention wasteful so I dashed over to Unique Photo, Fairfield, NJ last Thursday for a Speedflash Class given by Canon expert Rick Berk. Rick gave some basic information on flash exposure compensation – stopping down in increments, yadda, yadda, yadda. Things I know about but never felt comfortable enough to try on my own. When to use average flash illumination or when not to and showed the differences in the slide presentation. Simple stuff. He even gave us tips on which settings to use for our different camera bodies.
Now what I need to do is hook up my flash and see if anything he mentioned stuck to my grey matter. Trying to take notes and look at the illustrations on the screen is hard for me since I use two pairs of glasses – 1 for distance and another for reading. Yes bifocals should remedy that problem and I tried to get used to the pair I purchased but found myself falling over my own two feet. Which brings me to another topic, why are they called corrective glasses when they don’t actually correct anything. They just magnify and bring the image closer – throws off the peripherial vision and DOF.
Jene Youtt is my mentor of sorts… his years of lighting won him 2 emmies and his skill is evident in his photography. He reminds me that I won’t necessarily break something just by playing with a few dials and so I played around this afternoon. Mostly using the ETTL setting on my speedlight. Changing distance, zooming my light beam, angles and power. It wasn’t as bad as I thought and I might grow accoustomed to experiementing. Nothing to lose and a wealth of knowledge to gain.
Basically I bounced the light off the ceiling or wall to avoid harsh shadows or any shadows. I really liked the natural colors in the flowers that without blowing anything out. I’ve gotten some very nice images just using ambient light but had to open up my ISO and graininess is not always the effect I want.
One day of playing doesn’t make me an expert but I will continue to experiment and see where it takes me. All it can do is add to my creative energy. If it wasn’t raining, I would head outdoor to shoot using the flash as a fill light.
Two different power settings were used on the tulips.
The class was $45, with a $20 UP gift card, the ability to overcome my fear of screwing up – PRICELESS! So glad I decided to head out last minute and take the class. Learning something new is always a good thing. With time and practice I will become proficient.