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2008/03/15

My Name is Jeff, and I am a Strobist

After reading the famous Strobist Blog for more than a year now I got the chance to attend a lighting seminar taught by Mr. Strobist himself – David Hobby. No, I really didn’t have the spare time to go, after all we are just wrapping up the New Mexico high school basketball tournaments. Also, the five hour drive to Phoenix is costly these days; gas is $3.25/gallon around here. Then there is the cost of the hotel…. and the fact I just attended the Southwest Photojournalism Seminar two weeks ago. All these things could have stood in my way, but even with these challenges I went, and am glad I did.

A lot of the lighting things he talked about during the first part of the session I already know – in theory. Like how to make a background turn white just by applying a flash to the background. Applying them is another story. I am such a visual learner that I needed to sit down and actually watch how things were done and see how lights and Gobos and snoots and grids are all applied in a working situation. Yes, I have read the books with the lighting diagrams, but seeing a diagram for me is not as useful as actually witnessing the height, the angles, the instant feedback of the effect on the light.

I’ll save the ethics debate of using flash for another time. I listened to Dave Black a couple of weeks ago and his statements that clients expect things to be lit, and by not lighting things a photographer is not giving the best product. Then today reinforced the idea that a lot of images would benefit from lighting. David Hobby’s comment today about the pretentiousness off those photographers who claim to be purists and only use the available light is likely a code for that photographer having no clue how to actually do lighting just sent me into a fit of chuckles. So true. Photojournalists that do not light a scene because they do not have time are not thinking things through. You may save a few moments on the front end by not working with the strobe, but on the back end, when it is time to edit and color correct, you end up leaving a lot of work for yourself in Photoshop. And you also have lower quality image data in the camera.

Both of the Phoenix seminar dates sold out. Previous dates have sold out as well (one weekend sold out in something like 20 minutes). If David is coming to your town, or even remotely within access to you, I recommend that you pony up the conference fee and go. The one day seminar was informal and comfortable, and David is very easy to talk to and loves to hear questions. The session in Phoenix was limited to about 45 people, so the group was small enough to be able to have some dialogue.

Finally, let me end by saying that I am not a paid endorser for Strobist (but if David wants to slip me a few cans of Diet Dew I won’t object…. Grin)

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