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My First Photo Workshop

Stephanie - Casual

So a few months back I was alerted to a few photography lectures and workshops that Canon was running. Decided to sign up for the "Flash Demystified" workshop with Bob Davis since I figured it was high time I actually learned how to use my flash. Unfortunately, by the time I had decided to sign up, the workshop was already full but I was waitlisted anyway. A few weeks back I got an email saying that I was in. So, on a brisk Saturday morning I made my way into the city to join 15 other lucky individuals to learn and practice our flash techniques. Well, in my case not really techniques, more like just fumbling around and doing a lot of "well let's see what happens if I set it like this."

Catherine - Glance

Not having ever been to a workshop, I was pretty surprised to discover that we'd be shooting models. So this was turning out to be an interesting experience already. ;-p Thankfully, the models knew how to, well, model which made my life easier cause I really suck at asking people how to pose for me. So anyway, here are some shots that came out all right (and a few not so good) from the time spent there. But it was definitely quite an experience and I did learn a lot. Namely that I really need to practice shooting more often cause I was making mistakes left and right.

So anyway, since there were 16 of us, we were broken down into groups of 4 and then sent off to different areas of the studio to experiment and practice. Besides Bob Davis, there were a couple of Canon company men (and women) there who would flit between the groups, answering questions and checking on our progress. This included the illustrious Chuck Westfall, Canon's tech guru. The guy everyone pesters (or wants to pester) when any perceived problem with a Canon camera is brought up on photography forums. Very nice guy. I assume the reason he was here is because this is only Canon's second such workshop so while they're still getting this new "Live Learning" initiative off the ground, he'll be on hand to help keep an eye on things.

Catherine - Looking Up

The workshop took place in some photographer's home/studio it looked like, and a really nice one at that. Lot of open space and nice furniture and wall patterns. This shot was taken with one off-camera strobe in ETTL mode behind a half-white/half-black umbrella flashing right into her face. Composition not ideal with that tube in the wall behind her but there was space constraints. Plus I guess if I was a Photoshop guru I could seamlessly wipe out that little bit of tube but I'll leave that for another day.

Catherine - Seated

Same setting as above, probably should have lowered the light a little to better illuminate her eyes and lower half of her face.

Stephanie - Bathroom

The lighting in this one isn't that good. Rather harsh and one directional but I like the pose. =p

Stephanie - Glow

Canon also had a PIXMA Pro9000 printer set up on site where we could pick out one photo to print out. This was the one I went with. Just like the glow around parts of her.

Stephanie - Wicker Chair

This one I like as well but I was standing a bit too far off to the right so got more bleed from the flash behind her in the picture as can be seen from the lower right hand side of the photo and the edge of her blouse.

Catherine - Right Gaze

In this shot I believe we were testing out two bare strobes on either side and slightly behind the model. My on-camera flash was on and was bouncing forward but it doesn't appear to be strong enough. This was before we were taught how to work with ratios or shoot manual and set the power of each flash unit.

Catherine - Over the Shoulder

Same parameters as the photo above. On a bit of an aside, being a model for a workshop probably isn't one of the easiest gigs one can get as a model. You have to continuously strike new looks if not poses for each shot and there's going to be a lot of shots being taken. Since a fair number of workshop participants aren't pro and/or have no or few experience working with models, they get almost no direction from us besides "stand/sit here and do your thing." Not very helpful I must admit. But Catherine and Stephanie were very gracious about it all and very good at what they do.

Stephanie - Bad Lighting

Alright, this odd looking photo was taken during our group's last assignment which was to use 2 strobes with different colored gels aimed at two different walls in the bathroom setting and still try to get a natural looking skin tone. Obviously failed miserably on this one. We had a blue gel on one flash and an orange one on the other. On-camera flash was on but was being pointed behind me to bounce off the white ceiling and surrounding walls. Was shooting in manual so spent a lot of time tweaking the power settings to each flash, taking the shot, and tweaking again. With this one you can obviously see the blue on the left with the orange being more overpowering coming from the right. So the colors are junk but hey, at least the eyes are really sharp. ;-p

Stephanie - Orange/Blue

Same deal with this last shot. I think we may have been better off illuminating just the walls with the gelled flashes but we placed them too far in front so that they caught too much of the model as well. Ah well, that's why we go to these workshops right? To experiment, fail, and practice some more.

So overall the workshop was definitely very helpful and interesting to me and I wouldn't hesitate to attend one again if it was covering a topic I'm interested in. Shooting with multiple flashes is fun and definitely lets you get pretty creative but man, setting the lights up and getting everything dialed in correctly takes up more time than the actual shooting. I guess mainly since we were all mostly amateurs at it. I'm sure the pros are a heck of a lot quicker and better at it. Attendees ranged from pro to beginners (with a healthy mix inbetween) with some coming from as far away as Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. Bob Davis was a very good instructor as well as photographer; he took some fantaaastic shots of Stephanie with a softbox and red-gelled back light that I wish I could have smuggled home with me. ;-p You know how some people may be superb in their field but not very good in teaching? Well, he isn't one of those. If you ever get a chance to learn from him, definitely take it. Anyway, kudos to Canon for setting up this experience. As far as I'm concerned they're off to a great start.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 7, 2008 11:09 PM.

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