"Capturing Life"

Lighting Workshop

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Lighting Workshop, a set on Flickr.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop on the subject of studio lighting. It was presented by Brian Morris, of Morning Star Creative Group in Renton, Washington.

Held in his studio, Brian spent the first half of the day discussing all forms of light, how the different characteristics of light impact a picture, and how to modify light to create a desired mood. He stepped through a vast array of lighting options, from hard light to soft light, and physically showed the impact of the different sources of light.

After the morning session, it was our turn to play. He has created a seamless white backdrop in his studio by using plywood and building an incredible structure that wraps from the floor up towards the ceiling. He uses fluorescent lights that he has modified by building a PVC frame with white ripstop fabric acting as a diffuser. He set up a high key lighting area and, in another studio space, he also set up a low key lighting area. He brought in 3 models for us to work with as well.

I must admit that it was intimidating in some ways, yet immensely exhilarating in others. Brian did all of the set up of the lights so none of us were put on the spot trying to determine proper set up. That is a good/bad thing; it’s great to not feel on the spot but I probably would have learned more about the relationship of light location to lighting results by having to work it through myself with guided help.

However, when it was time to do the photographing, standing in a group with people you haven’t necessarily met before, thinking about what to do with the models, the light, and camera position felt a bit intimidating. We passed the trigger that activated the studio flash lights from camera to camera, taking turns practicing with the lights. I stood there for a bit waiting for my turn, then decided to just switch my camera settings so that I could work using the available light and not rely on the studio flash. When the trigger would come to me, I’d make more adjustments to my camera, and then shoot away with the studio lights activated by my camera. I think I took more pictures using the available light than I did using the triggered studio flash.

I wouldn’t say I captured any over the top grand portrait shots. I did come away some nice basic shots that helped me to gain more insight into how light works, how it affects the final outcome of a photo, and how I can work to apply what I learned to the various scenarios I encounter.

I would encourage anyone who desires to grow their photographic ability to attend a few workshops led by people who have grown their knowledge in an area you desire to learn. Even putting yourself in a learning situation with someone who is drawn to a different style than your own can grow your skill. Don’t be satisfied with just the everyday photo your cell phone can produce; learn to use light to make those photos better, learn a few basics of composition so that your photo makes more sense, and soon you’ll be drawn to your own photos, stopping to gaze at them thrilled that you produced a fantastic lasting memory.

As a side note, if you are interested in viewing part of the workshop I attended, you can do so by going here. The video quality is not fantastic but the audio worked pretty well for the most part. They were doing a trial run of streaming the workshop. Not all the videos are labeled so note the time stamp on the posting so that you can figure out the proper order to view them.

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One response

  1. Wayne

    Sounds like a great workshop to help expand your portrait shooting abilities. One thing nice about seeing a professional’s studio is checking out the equipment and arrangement…and possibly putting the husband to work to replicate it at home. You’ve been growing by leaps and bounds and I look forward to more great portrait (and other) work.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:40 pm

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