Flash Lights

August 27, 2011

Over the past 2 years I’ve worked hard on finding and honing my style of shooting. Its an ongoing process, but I constantly seek to challenge, push and improve myself as a photographer. I love to shoot natural light. In my opinion its the prettiest most flattering way to capture your subject. And while it definitely took me a lot of time, a lot of practice and a barrage of mistakes, when I finally built up my knowledge and confidence, when I was able to get it right and use it to my advantage, it had the effect of illuminating a subject in a way that is warm and soft, or if you prefer, added a little pop of drama. However, having said all that, there are definitely times when it is not possible to work with natural light. Day has a habit of turning into night and not all rooms can be radiated by a wall of windows. So in situations like that, its best to bust out your flash.

Now here is where it got tricky, at least for me. The principles of flash and all things flash and light related, just felt so complex and intimidating. It was partly the math. Yes, working with flash requires a math brain, I on the other hand, do not have a math brain, hence my feelings of complexity and intimidation. But I eventually got tired of the intimidation and the discomfort. I got tired of the average photos I captured when I needed to bust out my flash. So I decided it was high time I man’ed up and learned to better use my flash. As luck would have it, this week the wonderful Brett Jarnagin, a master of all things flash, was holding a workshop here in Atlanta and with absolutely no hesitation, I signed up. I was so excited. I felt like I was going to a place where I’d be handed the answers to life’s deepest questions. Goodbye flash complexity and intimidation. But it wasn’t easy. My head was definitely spinning as Brett talked distance, degrees of placement and fractions of light power, but once we got out onto the Atlanta streets to shoot, things started to slowly make sense.

We took turns shooting. And each time it was your turn, you had to come up with not just the pose for your model, but the flash set up and creative ways to illuminate the model based on everything we’d just been taught. It was a total pressure cooker situation that elicited my inner fight or flight response. Mentally I was choosing flight. Get your purse Shinks, and get the hell out of here, but I stayed, pushing through the fear and discomfort. And I learned. Some of my images were awful, like straight up AW-FUL, but as the day progressed and things started to click, my images got better. Here I’m choosing to share just the better. Cos trust me, you don’t want to see alternative. In my next post I’m going to be sharing some behind-the scenes images, that way you’ll get to see the struggle and various flash set-ups that went into capturing the images your about to see.

This is the wonderful Casey, Brett’s wife who doubled as our model and assisted with any and all of our questions and queries. This was one of the first shots I took. Not bad.

Here I got a little braver and set up multiple flashes to capture this image.

This is little Billy and she was such a trooper. She stayed with us all day and well into the evening, rocking a full-length wedding dress in almost 100 degree heat. She worked it like a pro and held pose as I moved flash stands and adjusted light levels to capture this image.

Later in the day the fabulous Tina arrived and at this point I was getting a little more comfortable with the equipment.

I think this is my favorite shot from the day. Now I just need to remember how I set it up.

Bringing in some night sky.

This was shot under a highway over-pass next to a very busy road. Scary, but I like how the image turned out.

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