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Learning to Light

nikon, wedding, photography, strobist

Blog Update

I’ve been off the grid lately, not gone, but off to the sidelines learning new tricks. Yes, an old dog can still learn a few new tricks with patient and practice. I got the lighting bug, its more like an addiction now I tell you. Before this new genre, I was mainly a quotidian photographer in natural light, seeing frames, framing frames, and shooting them all around. It was a blast and I still enjoy it but frankly, not as much. I’ve been getting immersed in the world of light which is all around us and now, finally, my neurons are wrapping themselves around this topic and pardon the pun ― seeing the light all around. Once you get it, its truly magical because you see a whole new world, filled with colors and let us not forget ― shadows.

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Where I started

First off, I didn’t figure all this out by myself. Like anything in life you one has to study a bit, then practice, and then practice some more, and then a go at it. That “go at it” for me came on December 2, 2012 my first official wedding shoot. But before this date I was deep in the waters of learning to light. I began with Zack Arias’s One Light Series DVD which is simply amazing. Zack has a great teaching style that comes across as humble and yet very informative I’ve probably watch those dvd’s about 50 times or so. There is so much information to absorb that it really warrants multiple viewings, I always learned a few more things every time I watched them.

Zack gave me the primer. He talks about all the gear necessary to begin, shortcuts, saving a dollar or two on pieces of equipment and avoiding some basic pitfalls. Starting with one light is absolutely a must in my opinion, its hard to grasp all the concepts on lighting when multi light setups are involved. As Zack himself says,

Learn one light, and then go two, and so forth.

It really does work out that way folks. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense, just following that advice. I did and I’m glad I followed it. Today, I’m on a two light setup that can handle a lot of lighting situations. Everything from a portrait, to sunset shooting, action, early morning, night out and about (one light here is so freaking cool) and so on. I hate to go to the gear side of sides but it truly is inevitable and its something I think I’ll probably write another post about perhaps a “what in my bag” type of thing, but basically, grab yourself a manual flash of some sort, a light stand, a 43″ convertible umbrella, a flash bracket with a good mount (use the stroboframes, just trust me), oh and I almost forgot, some kind of triggering mechanism ie. Pocket Wizards, Yongnuo RF603, Cactus V’s, etc.

Back to the theory

I then graduated to Joe McNally’s “Learning to Light” dvd’s which are truly amazing. Everyone knows Joe and he’s the man, enough said. His series is didactic and simply said, worth every penny I spent on it. ( We’re 2 for 2 already because Zack’s is a must as well. ) One thing I must say is that Joe uses the best gear around, there are no shortcuts here and all booms, light stands, and accessories are top notch but having seen the One Light series before I knew where I could skimp and get more cost effective gear. If you’re into Nikon, you’ll love to see Joe using the Nikon CLS systems but the same can be applied to Canon’s as well.

After, this Joe’s series, I was gunning but I needed more lights, so I added another stand and another strobe to my growing lighting kit. If you told me a year ago, Jorge, you’ll be spending money in light gear towards the last quarter of the year, I would have said ― no way, but truth be told, it is that way. I’ve pretty much settled in my Nikon glass, a simple setup a good zoom with a very usable range and a fast 50mm prime. I’m still decided which way to go with a telephoto lens but that can wait, that in no way curtails the shots I can make with my current gear.

The Strobist ― David Hobby

The one and only David Hobby from the best online resource for lighting aficionados and professionals as well. David, is one cool cat. I’ve read from head to toe and finally decided I need to see him in practice so I picked up his Strobist Lighting Seminar DVD. I just finished it watching it today and wow, what a knock out folks. Its absolutely awesome, step by step into various shooting scenarios, diagrams and all. Go figure, I’m now going to build my own snoots and I”m still debating if I want to do the same with grids spots lol. Its so great I’m definitely getting his 2nd series titled Lighting in Layers ( its in my Christmas sock 🙂 ) and take it from there.

Well, I’ve just about run out of digital ink for this post so I’ll catch you sometime before this year comes to a close with a few post and my final Weekly Project post.

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