…which is German for Flash, because why not.

A small note. There are several spaces open still for Saturday’s hands-on flash workshop in Brantford. A great opportunity to learn how to use flash. TTL. Manual. Speed lights. Strobes. Whatever it is, we’ll talk about it and you will get to do it.

Read all about it here. You have just a few hours left to benefit from the low price.



Little trick.



Outside my Sheridan classroom, Monday night.

So. I am curious. How fast was the wind blowing?

snow speed

Based on that, I estimate with a fair degree of accuracy, based on the light stand width, that those snow trails are 5cm in length (that’s about 2″).

So. Snow (and thus, the air) travels 5cm in 1/125 second.

That is 625 cm in a second (5 x 125, since the shutter speed is 1/125 sec). In other words, 6.25 m/s (metres per second). That’s how scientists and engineers express speed.

That is 6.25 x 3600 m per hour, i.e. 22,500 metres per hour.

In other words, 22.5 km/h. (=14 mph, or 12.5 kts).

That is a Beaufort scale force 4 wind, or “Moderate breeze”.

And all that because I have a camera. A curious mind is, well, fun.


Why a MUA is needed.

[a repeat from 2014]:

I generally recommend doing things only if they need to be done. And one of those things is a make-up artist (a “MUA”). You can be pretty sure that TV producers, for example, would not use make up artists if they were not necessary. But they are.

Witness this “before” and “after”:

Make up artists do not just fix blemishes. They also shape the face so it is suitable for the shoot. Here’s MUA Melissa Telisman doing her thing:

And here’s what that results in:

Glamour and perfection without “photoshopping”, which I am not a fan of. But make-up is not just for glamour; not at all. I recommend a MUA and a hair stylist for corporate shoots, too, especially—but not only—if women are involved. If TV shows do it, you can be sure it is necessary, and not a luxury.

Incidentally: do we need the entire person in every shot?

Decidedly no. You get a much more intimate feeling when you do an extreme close-up (an ECU, in movie terms). Try it; experiment in your next shoot and do some shots like the one above. You’ll love them.


Why I…

…don’t live in Europe anymore.

Don’t get me wrong. Europe is great. History, culture, art; pragmatic politics; liberal philosophy; well-educated people; intellectual discourse on TV rather than clips for 11-year olds. All good.

But then this, at my local 24-hour supermarket:

23198938856_3315d50d25_o Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 19.27.23

A typical Reuben sandwich. Has half a cow on it.

And in Europe, the Europe I remember, this would have one slice of meat. One. Not two.

Imagine a lunch table in The Netherlands, or an Autobahn restaurant on Germany, or any hotel with a “continental breakfast” pretty much anywhere in Northern Europe. One slice. If you take two, you are a waster, a bad person. One is plenty for a good person; two is for bad people. A 24-hour supermarket or two in every small town in Europe? Yeah. ten centuries after hell freezes over. Wasteful “American nonsense”. And it is “unnecessary”.

Like drive-through ATM machines (why park and waste time lining up?); drive-in cinemas; easy Internet banking; cheap commoditized goods; lower taxes; and much of what makes North America great. After all, we are here for a few decades and then we are gone. Why deny ourselves everything that makes life easy? We should try to make things easy. In Europe, it is my impression that the intention is to make life as difficult as possible. Here we say “Yes, unless”. There, they say “NO, unless you can show why it should be allowed”. NO, unless you can show why it is “necessary”.

Another example. Here, to get a personalized car number plate (mine are “MVW1” and “CAMERAS” (!) ), you look up the available names online, pay the government a couple of hundred bucks, and you’re done; your plates arrive in a few weeks. In Europe it is impossible to, because GOD FORBID that we make life more fun or easy for people. No, we can’t allow such :”American Nonsense”.

I wonder what those Europeans would make of a sandwich with about 40 slices. Heart attack, probably.

And photography has many parallels. Until not many years ago, photography was a “protected” (i.e. regulated) profession in much of Europe. Here: do what you like. Which is how it should be, however difficult it is for established photographers. Let the chips fall where they may.

And who wins, in all these circumstances? The consumer!




A student asks.

Here’s me, teaching a Sheridan College class just the other day:


My student asks:

How did you know you were ready/good enough to charge for your service?

You are ready when people think it worth paying you. Period. Of course yes, you should have the standard technical skills: know about exposure, focus, colour, metering, all those basics. And the basic composition rules. But that is not indicative of a successful photographer; those are merely “hygiene factors”. Like saying an author needs to own a pen, and paper, and know the alphabet. Well, yeah, d’oh! If you are not 100% sure you have all those skills, get my camera books from

But as said: you are good enough when you manage to make people part with their money. In other words, when people want to pay for your work, your work is good enough to be paid for. A truism, but a true one. :-)

Would you say there is a specific set of equipment you need to be able to charge for, say, a wedding shoot?

Yes. redundant equipment.

Lots of lenses, several cameras, lots of flash gear: all that is good but not necessary. Depending on your style and your clients’ wishes, you COULD shoot a wedding with just one wide angle prime, for instance. Or a 35 or 50mm prime. The equipment expands your possible styles, that’s all.

But redundant (spare) equipment and at least some form of flash is necessary. It is irresponsible to shoot a wedding if you do not have backups for everything. Because anything that can fail, eventually will. Count on it. And it will be during the ceremony, in the middle of the most important part.

…Or for a portrait shoot?

No. A digital Rebel with a 50mm prime lens is enough if you will. Sure, the more the better, but by no means is that necessary. Sure. Headshots: nice to own a 70-200. Environmental portraits? a 16-35. Available light? a prime. But all those are just means to an end. If you do one type, have one style, then you need only one lens. And an affordable prime is enough. For studio, even a kit lens is fine.

Then you do need a range of flash gear and modifiers. See my flash book, and my portrait book, from