Flash—Change

I have made a change to the Hands-On Flash Workshop schedule (see two days ago): Oct 2 is cancelled and is added to Oct 14.

(Re-?) familiarize yourself with flash and come to the Sunday afternoon workshop in my studio in Brantford, Ontario:

  • Sunday Oct 14, 2016, noon-5pm: HANDS-ON SESSION: Master On- and Off-Camera Flash, Manual & TTL. $199, Limited to five students; there are only three spots left. View details/reserve your spot

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The Workshop Program:

Prerequisites: You need basic camera knowledge and a DSLR camera. Bring that camera, and IF you have it, your flash. I supply all studio equipment, snacks and drinks. If you have a Sony camera, you may need a converter to standard flash hotshoe.

What we do: In five hours, in a combination of lecture and lots of hands-on, I will free your creativity by showing and teaching you:

  1. The minimum required technical knowledge. This includes a quick review of camera basics and flash background knowledge.
  2. How to think about a flash photo. My unique method suddenly makes it simple!
  3. The four (and only four) types of background exposure.
  4. The Three Magic Recipes: “studio”, “event”, and “outdoor”.
  5. How to fire remote flashes using your camera’s system (Canon, Nikon).
  6. How to fire remote flashes using Pocketwizards.
  7. TTL or manual? How you decide.
  8. Strobes or speedlights? Pros and cons of both.
  9. Alternate radio triggers: Yongnuo.
  10. Bouncing a flash.
  11. Lighting a portrait.
  12. Using a flash meter.
  13. Using modifiers: Beauty dish, softbox, snoot, reflector, grid, and gel.
  14. Special techniques: ring flash, etc.

Bring a camera, and a flash if you have one, and the rest is provided. You will leave with knowledge and real life, confidence inspiring, hands-on experience.

A basic bit of knowledge.

One of the many things your camera indicates is its remaining image buffer space. Buffer space means “how many pictures will fit in the camera’s buffer until it slows down”. You see, the pictures are first written to a fast camera buffer, and then, more slowly, to the memory card.

If your camera indicates this buffer, it indicates it in the viewfinder by way of a small number (like “9”, “09”, or R09″) that decreases as you fill the buffer.

If you set your camera to take continuous pictures and then hold down the shutter down (click-click-click-click-click-etc), you will see that the buffer eventually fills up; at that point, the camera slows right down, until the buffer has once again been part emptied.

There are several ways to get better performance/more images until you slow down:

  1. Buy a faster memory card
  2. Shoot JPGs instead of RAW images
  3. On some cameras, shoot medium-sized or small RAW instead of large RAW.

Normally, I would prefer option 1, since the others involve downgrading image quality, but on the other hand, it’s not REALLY a problem to shoot JPG, if you know what you are doing.

More importantly. If you shoot professionally and you are not fully familiar with your camera’s functions, displays and controls, consider taking a refresher course or doing a couple of hours of consulting one-on-one. You will be surprised how much you’ll learn, since these sessions are highly individualized. See http://learning.photography/collections/training for some more information on options, etc.

 

Flash, Hands On.

With the dark season ahead, but with plenty of sunshine yet, it may well be time to (re-?) familiarize yourself with flash. In which case you may be interested in an upcoming Sunday afternoon workshop, and a repeat of the same, both in my studio in Brantford, Ontario:

  • Oct 2, 2016, noon-5pm: HANDS-ON SESSION: Master On- and Off-Camera Flash, Manual & TTL. $199, limited to three students. Only two spots left. View details/reserve your spot
  • Oct 16, 2016, noon-5pm: a repeat of the same workshop. $199 if you book soon, limited to five students. Only four spots left. View details/reserve your spot.

The Workshop Program:

Prerequisites: You need basic camera knowledge and a DSLR camera. Bring that camera, and IF you have it, your flash. I supply all studio equipment, snacks and drinks. If you have a Sony camera, you may need a converter to standard flash hotshoe.

What we do: In five hours, in a combination of lecture and hands-on, I will free your creativity by showing and teaching you:

  1. The minimum required technical knowledge. This includes a quick review of camera basics and flash background knowledge.
  2. How to think about a flash photo. My unique method suddenly makes it simple!
  3. The four (and only four) types of background exposure.
  4. The Three Magic Recipes: “studio”, “event”, and “outdoor”.
  5. How to fire remote flashes using your camera’s system (Canon, Nikon).
  6. How to fire remote flashes using Pocketwizards.
  7. TTL or manual? How you decide.
  8. Strobes or speedlights? Pros and cons of both.
  9. Alternate radio triggers: Yongnuo.
  10. Bouncing a flash.
  11. Lighting a portrait.
  12. Using a flash meter.
  13. Using modifiers: Beauty dish, softbox, snoot, reflector, grid, and gel.
  14. Special techniques: ring flash, etc.

Bring a camera, and a flash if you have one, and the rest is provided. You will leave with knowledge and hands-on experience.

Lightroom Rocks, But Get The Right One

Lightroom is the core app around which my business revolves. I love it; it quadruples my productivity; the math they did to make it work is incredible, and frankly, if they charged $1,500 instead of $150 I would still buy it.

The caveat? I have said it before: I am not a fan of Adobe CC. “CC” stands for “Creative Cloud”, and it is a suite of products for a monthly fee. Great technology, wonderful, and worth a lot—but not that much.

First, even with upgrades over the years, that monthly fee works out much higher than the stand-alone product, if Lightroom is all you use, And most photographers do not need Photoshop. Illustrators do, but we’re not illustrators.

But that is not my main gripe. My main objection is: I buy a product that is completely essential to my company and hence to my income. And now when I have the CC version, Lightroom “calls home” at regular intervals to check whether I am allowed to use it. Didn’t pay bill? No Lightroom for you. Bank screwed up? No Lightroom for you. You’re in Africa when it’s time to call home, so no Internet connection can be made? No Lightroom for you. Database problems? No Lightroom for you. Account hacked? No Lightroom for you. And so on. And these things really happen—they are not mere theoretical possibilities.

I simply cannot allow mission-critical software that necessitates me asking politely for permission to please use it.

So I, and you too may want to, buy the stand alone version for $149 once only, instead of the CC version for the “introductory” (i.e. will-go-up) fee that starts at US$9.99 per month.

But how?

Good question! It takes me 15 minutes each time to find it. Eventually by listing all products, you get a screen like this:

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And you see, at the bottom on the left, the tiny, tiny “Products” link?

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Yeah, that one. That takes you to this page:

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-16-41-27

..which contains:

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-16-41-50

That is, as far as I have been able to tell, the only way to get to the non-CC product. While it is still available. Which will not be forever.

The link above is for Canada, but there’s similar pages for others.

You may also be able to buy copies in a box, in stores like Henry’s. But that too is very hard to find.

Back to regular business. But if you have not checked out Lightroom: go get it. Free 30 day eval, after which you decide to buy it—or not.

And if you have bought it, do consider having me help you set it up properly, and fix any errors. Good news: anything you get wrong can be fixed later. Lightroom really is a fantastic app, but you do need to put some thought into how to organize your files. A few hours of private consulting and you too, like me, will dramatically increase your productivity. Drop me a line or give me a call to explore the options, and see http://learning.photography.

 

In Real Life

..In real life, you only have so much time when shooting an event. So you need to be quick, and you need to really master a bunch of little things.

Take this picture, taken with a wide angle 16-35mm lens at 800 ISO, 1/40 sec, f/4, with bounce flash aimed behind me. . Attentive readers may recognize the Willems 400/40/4 formula in that, modified slightly (800 ISO instead of 400) because it was so non-reflective.

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Nice, but why are the verticals tilted inwards toward each other at the top?

Because the photographer was aiming the camera upward! That results in this tilt.

If the camera had been pointing downward, you would have seen this instead:

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And it is only if the photographer aims the camera straight ahead, parallel to the horizon, that we get the proper picture:

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And now a little secret: that one, the third, was in fact the actual photo taken by the photographer, Because the photographer, and that was me, knows to hold the camera parallel to the horizon. Check the verticals before you click!

So how did I create the other versions? Simple, by using TRANSFORM in Lightroom. And just like I can make a good picture bad, I can make a bad picture good.

So why not just shoot as you like and fix them all later? Mainly because this takes that most valuable of all commodities, time.

So. Last question. Flash you say. Really? How do I know this isn’t just ambient light?

Well, let’s take one with the flash OFF. Here we go:

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Now, we could have used ambient like this but just increase the exposure by three stops. That is true (higher ISO, lower f-number, and/or slower shutter). But then two things would happen: a) you would notice the drawbacks of those actions (e.g. more motion blur, less depth of field, more grain), and b) the picture would lose its magic. You would get this:

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Well, de gustibus non est disputandum, but I prefer mine:

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Isn’t this “creative” stuff fun?


Want to learn from me in person? 5 hours in Brantford, Ontario, on Sunday Oct 2. With a maximum of 5 students. Sign up tonight and save big: 

HANDS-ON SESSION: Master On- and Off-Camera Flash, Manual & TTL

Sunday, Oct 2, 2016, 12:00 PM

Michael Willems Studio
48, Wilkes Street Brantford, ON

2 Emerging Photographers Attending

UNLEASH YOUR CREATIVITY, LIKE THE DUTCH MASTERS, AND BECOME A FLASH PRO!This unique small and intensive hands-on workshop, held in my fully equipped studio, will be both practice, for those who know a thing or two about flash, and a revelation, for those who do not.I took this picture  two days ago, on Friday. In a dark Niagara Falls restaurant …

Check out this Meetup →