Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Picture... uhhh... Tuesday?

Yayyyy is picture Tuesday…. Umm… I mean Wednesday? Alright, so I was really tired yesterday and didn’t post, so my picture day has been pushed back to Wednesday this week, but I am still calling it picture Tuesday because this here is the interwebz and I can do what I want, well, almost. One thing you are going to notice right away is the lack of a picture in the context of this posting, and that’s kind of the point for me today. I’m getting ahead of myself, let me explain.

Flashback to this past Sunday, relaxed, nothing out the usual, Christie and I decided to venture to the downtown center of Montreal to do a little bit of shopping and to return a book at Chapters. Turns out the weather wasn’t so great, it was cold damp and rainy, not a fun day to be strolling around. Now Chapters isn’t exactly my favourite place to find books, I am one of those guys that prefers the second hand, musty disorganized type over the latte serving sort (not that there is anything wrong with that, I’m just a sucker for that old book smell). I seem to be like that with most things, and very much so with photography. I prefer my old, clunky heavy metal film cameras over digital, heck, I have a Mamiya M645 medium format camera that is in amazing shape, and this includes my flashes, old, battery heavy, and in need of large cables and plungers to get it all going off camera. This is why this recent upgrade to a Nikon D80 has been such a breakthrough for me, for the first time, I am embracing the technology, and that means learning all the things I can do with it. When I was avidly running around with my clunky Pentax KX, off camera flash meant studio lighting and equipment that was far financially out of my reach, but suddenly, for a nominal fee, I can have a high end flash, and it can be used off camera wirelessly, without any accessories… OMG. Seriously, to most of the photographic world this is now the normal, expected with almost all “Pro” Nikon digital SLR camera bodies, and this is just amazing to me. 10 years ago I would have needed long cables and diagrams and… ughhh… tons of expensive equipment, now you just need a good Nikon and a Speedlight or two or three. Amazing.

So, going back to Chapters here, I decide to take a little peak at the books in the Photography section while Christie is shopping about, and I stumble upon something totally unexpected. As you may have read previously, or assumed by now, I have become quite a fan of David Hobby’s blog, Strobist. On this site a few days or so ago, I read an article about a book that was reviewed and highly recommended, “The Hot Shoe Diaries” by Joe McNally. I was pretty surprised to find it, and had to pick it up to take a peak. Two flips later and I had to have it, I swear I put it under my arm and rushed down two flights of stairs to find Christie and show her my prize. I lied to myself for a minute that maybe I wouldn’t get it since it was 47.99 Canadian, but something told me I found it for a reason, so of course I got it.

Now back full circle to why I am not putting a picture here that has been specifically made with today’s post in mind. I know diddly squat, nothing, nada, about lighting. Really, I thought I was learning pretty quickly and getting on well enough, and honestly, I was seeing the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Did I mention that this book showed me that I know nothing? Yeah, I did, but wait, hold on here, it’s a good thing. I’m on the right path, and already I’ve learned that I am using wild light, not directing it or shaping, or even coloring the light. Damn. Be warned, if you are a Canon camera user, this book deals specifically with Nikon camera equipment as far as the setup is concerned, but it is a valuable tool nonetheless. My plan? I have a lot to learn, and I am in the middle of drawing up plans to make some of my own equipment to help me, such as diffusers and softboxe(s), snoots, grids etc. That’s a lot of jargon, but go ahead and do a quick search on Flickr for any of those terms and put “DIY” before it (ie DIY softbox), and you will get tons of results showing you completed plans and sample pictures of the results, you will be amazed at what a few pieces of plastic and cardboard with tape can do for your photos if you have a flash. You can also get a pretty nice bit of the book for free in PDF format by going to this site and clicking on “sample”, and there is always the completlely free lighting course on the Strobist blog, just click on Lighting 101. Go ahead, check Flickr, get the sample, read the lighting 101 course, you wont regret it, and I will keep everyone here posted with my results and my builds as I go.


The Hot Shoe Diaries (click sample):
Some amazing DIY equipment made by a very talented Flickr user:


Junglefrog said...

That sounds like an amazing book Ian! Maybe it is in the book as well but a tip from me to create very soft and pleasant light using a strobe of any kind is tracing paper. Fairly cheap and you can buy it by the roll to shoot through. I use it for a lot of my productstuff where I need a huge softbox (and don't want to pay for one!!) I just hang it from anything and voila... It's even more versatile then a true softbox as I can put the lights further away or closer if I want to, directing the light more. Anyway, I seem to be always very lengthy with my comments, sorry for that...:) I still miss the picture though...:(

Ian said...

Hi Junglefrog!:D I love using tracing paper, my first Macrobox was/is actually made out of cardboard and tracing paper, it works wonderfully :D. I never thought about using sheets of it as gobo's, Im going to try that out for sure! Thanks so much for the tip! As for the picture, I actually have some for the posting, and was going to put it up about an hour or so after the post as an April fools kind of thing, I even had Christie going. I stayed up playing with the CLS (Creative lighting system) built into my Nikon and make a few pictures for the article, and then I couldnt connect to my wireless internet all of a sudden... bleah, so I went to sleep. Im going to update this post with them when I get in tonight from work :D

I have been collecting some odds and ends to try some things out and I will post pictures as I go and experiment with new things