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Old 03-21-2012   #11
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Default Re: THE TRUTH ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHIC LIGHTING- new!The Truth About Photographic Lighting

Excellent!!! To my mind lighting is EVERYTHING!!! It is what separates a snapshot from a work of art.
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Old 04-06-2012   #12
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Default Re: THE TRUTH ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHIC LIGHTING- new!The Truth About Photographic Lighting

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Originally Posted by Brooks View Post
It's always amused me when people, with cameras and lenses that cost literally thousands of dollars, decide they want to do portraiture, product, food, interior or any type of professional photography that requires lighting without spending more than $300 for lighting equipment.

I'd much rather have a $500 dollar camera and several thousand dollars in lighting equipment.
... and then we see people like Sue Brice, that absolutely refuse to use **any** form of artificial light, no speedlights, no studio lights... nothing but windows and whatever the ambient is along with a few reflectors at a cost of under $100 total... get top awards at events like WPPI 3 years in a row... lol

Please Brooks, do not think that was a jump on you or your comment, I also want you to know I admire a lot of your work that you show here... but fact is that she proved to me yet again, it's not the hardware or how much it cost, but it's all about the person behind the camera once more.

Her photos humbled me, her posing skills are simple yet profound and her understanding of how to bring out the best expressions in any person in front of her... I have not seen her equal anywhere. Her knowledge of lighting is impressive, it just doesn't involve any electrical devices, period.

Now, that said, would I ever stop using my speedlights and studio heads? Not on your life. For as good as she is.. I feel she is a victim of her environment, and on days that it is raining outside or it is after 5:00pm and there is no sun shining through her windows... she cannot shoot, and she has said as much too.

Knowledge of lighting is a given, and in photography it **is** everything. If you do not know, you cannot shoot good shots, period, but is that $25,000 Broncolor head going to make me any better? Not really... well at least not initially... lol All it does is let me shoot 24 hours a day and truly take control of my environment.
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Old 04-06-2012   #13
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Default Re: THE TRUTH ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHIC LIGHTING- new!The Truth About Photographic Lighting

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I have met many photographers who are dismissive of the importance of lighting management and love to say that “lighting is not rocket science”. I, for one, beg to differ with that attitude.
Love all your posts Ed, but just to play devil's advocate, I was watching Creative Live today and Don Giannatti (aka WizWow) clearly stated that it is not all that hard, that it is simply a learned skill that anyone with the interest could learn easily enough. And then he went and pretty much proved it.

I tend more to agree with that than to imply that good lighting takes half a lifetime and two master's degrees to learn.

In the past, most photographers were fairly secretive about their techniques and all of them had to process that roll of film to see the results and if you weren't good at documenting what you were doing at the time you took that pic... it well easily could take you decades before you learned what worked and what didn't.

Today those 500 shots that took a week to take and process take an afternoon and one can instantly see the results, and just that one small factor alone takes into consideration 75% of that time difference it takes to grow and learn.

I'd like to add that there are thousands of good sites on the internet that for all intents and purposes have endless supplies of videos and documents and of course professionals like yourself with decades of experience (though admittedly, few are at your quality level), and all out there willing to share their life's knowledge and this takes out another huge chunk of time and a real flattener of that once steep learning curve.

What took decades in the past takes years today... or months, if you are dedicated and ambitious enough. And then there are those small things like technology. This little beast never stops rolling, indeed every month it picks up more speed and the quality and complexity of those huge and mega-dollar cameras of yesteryear are today almost being packaged in iPhone sized containers.

I am 100% in agreement with you when you say it is ALL about light, don't get me wrong, it's not easy, I am not saying it is a simple 1+1=2 kinda thing, but if it really was as hard as that, dummies like me could not do 1/100th of what is happening out there right now, everywhere all around us.

And guess what? YOU are to blame for that!
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Old 04-06-2012   #14
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Default Re: THE TRUTH ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHIC LIGHTING- new!The Truth About Photographic Lighting

If you shoot only available light. as you often must do at a wedding, you are at the mercy of your environment. I have seen lots of good wedding photography shot in available light but that's not what I was talking about. Finding and recognizing good existing light is a great skill to have but it's not the same as being able to create good light on demand when there is none present.

I was talking about the types of professional photography that requires lighting which is why I specifically said "any type of professional photography that requires lighting"

I was speaking about the people here who spend thousands of dollars on their cameras and lenses, or "glass" as they call them, yet when it comes time to purchase lighting they ask about cheap Chinese lighting or junk from Cowboy Studio because they only have $300 budgets.
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Old 04-06-2012   #15
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Default Re: THE TRUTH ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHIC LIGHTING- new!The Truth About Photographic Lighting

Well again, there are different levels in everything, and that company that sells thousands of Kia cars and makes huge profits are just as viable a resource to many as those that sell Ferrarris.

There is a market for all levels, IMHO and that guy with the speedlights that does weddings may again not need that 2400W/s pack and head unit.

Lately, is it me, or am I seeing that a vast majority of what I formerly saw as rock solid "musts" are slowly morphing into "nice to have if you can afford it" or "it depends on the specific situation" more than anything else?

Knowledge is the important part... the rest, a few dollars can fill in the blanks, depending on your needs and requirements. Where studio portraiture relies more heavily on good lighting, wedding photography relies more heavily on the camera and fast glass, yet both benefit from the other, and none can do without what is between the person's 2 ears.
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Old 04-06-2012   #16
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Default Re: THE TRUTH ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHIC LIGHTING- new!The Truth About Photographic Lighting

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Originally Posted by jerryph View Post
Love all your posts Ed, but just to play devil's advocate, I was watching Creative Live today and Don Giannatti (aka WizWow) clearly stated that it is not all that hard, that it is simply a learned skill that anyone with the interest could learn easily enough.

I tend more to agree with that than to imply that good lighting takes half a lifetime and two master's degrees to learn.

In the past, most photographers were fairly secretive about their techniques and all of them had to process that roll of film to see the results and if you weren't good at documenting what you were doing at the time you took that pic... it well easily could take you decades before you learned what worked and what didn't.

Today those 500 shots that took a week to take and process take an afternoon and one can instantly see the results, and just that one small factor alone takes into consideration 75% of that time difference it takes to grow and learn.

I'd like to add that there are thousands of good sites on the internet that for all intents and purposes have endless supplies of videos and documents and of course professionals like yourself with decades of experience (though admittedly, few are at your quality level), and all out there willing to share their life's knowledge and this takes out another huge chunk of time and a real flattener of that once steep learning curve.
I love a good Devil's Advocate as much as the next guy.

Good lighting is not that difficult to learn. It's like everything else in photography. If you have an eye for it and an interest in it, lighting can be learned in a relatively short time.

Like composition, you do have to have an eye for it and that's what stops many people in their tracks. Not having an eye for lighting (and photography in general) is also what makes most of those on-line lighting videos less than inspiring.

I think you're mistaken and somewhat inexperienced in the ways of commercial photography when you say that in the days of film photography there was no immediate feed back on lighting or composition.

I never had to wait for film to be developed to see whether the exposure or lighting was good or that the composition fit the elements of the layout as needed. I'd shoot Polaroids, sometimes dozens of Polaroids, before even one sheet of film was exposed. Those Polaroids were at least 6cm square or more often 4"x5" and 8"x10" in size so they were much easier to evaluate than that tiny lcd on the back of today's digital camera.

We had BW polaroid film that you could look at with light passing through to see shadow detail and before large format Polaroid was available, I used BW photo paper loaded in film holders to judge exposure and composition and acetate overlays taped to ground glass camera backs for layouts.

I used to have a client who was a silversmith. They sold silver products, silverware, plates etc. They ran a full page BW ad in the Sunday newspaper. Their agency would provide a detailed layout that had to be closely followed of their products arranged with call-outs in an overhead table top shot. I'd tape the layout to the 8x10 ground glass, shine a 500 watt fresnel spot through the back of the camera, focus the camera and project the layout onto the table where the products could be easily arranged in their correct location. There was no waiting for film to be developed to check that stuff.

The commercial photography film world wasn't all that primitive before digital. It's easier now to get feed back with tethered shooting and some of the software available today. I haven't taped an acetate layout to the computer screen, not to mention ground glass, since I started using Phase One's Capture One. Capture one has a great translucent overlay feature that lets you superimpose an image over your captured image, re-size it, move it around and change its opacity all while seeing your shot underneath.

So yes digital is much easier now, but you still need the eye to see the light and the technical knowledge and equipment to make good light if you want to work in commercial photography.
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Old 04-06-2012   #17
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Using available, existing and natural light only is a great philosophy but in professional photography there is another problem that hangs over the head of every pro like the Sword of Damocles- that of creativity on demand and creation of images on demand. Oftentimes we are forced to do a shoot on a tight last minute deadline where the right weather conditions that enable good lighting are simply not present indoors or out-of-doors. We have to plug in otherwise the volume, quality, or direction will just not work without some for of artificial light either as a main source or as a fill-in source.

In wedding photography, this is especially true because a wedding assignment can not be postponed or re-shot at another time. There are times when you must employ additional lighting equipment just to come up with a body of work that covers the entire affair regardless of the lack of ample or aesthetically pleasing light. Not every shot will work well with wide open fast lenses, high IOS settings and out of focus backgrounds due to lack of depth of field.

It is also a fact the photographers who create masterpieces under strictly available light conditions surely know their lighting and can produce studio-like high quality images with widow light, candle light or a lit match.

No matter what method you prefer SEEING light, manipulating light, augmenting existing light are required skill sets, especially on jobs that offer only a restricted windows of opportunity to get things done right and on time. No matter how skilled a photographer is the always has to be a plan B to fall back on in order to complete the assignment at hand under all circumstances that may occur.

With lesser “deadline stress” the photographer can plan for locations and times of day where the lighting will most lightly be available. Alternative shooting days can be planned to accommodate inclement weather conditions.

Ed





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Old 07-07-2012   #18
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Default Re: THE TRUTH ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHIC LIGHTING- new!The Truth About Photographic Lighting

I only became better using available light when I bought my speedlight....
This way I had "total" control, and by getting used to this control, I became more aware of the light, and thus better at using available, natural light.

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Old 07-07-2012   #19
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I used to be "afraid" to step outside. It was always easier to get the light I wanted with my Elinchrome, Speedotrons and all the heads and grids I wanted or needed.

I can not get this level of control using natural light.... but since I have given up the studio and have to use what is there, I think I have learned how to see better.

It is all about seeing the light.

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Old 07-07-2012   #20
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Great article Ed. How do you suggest I go about gaining this knowledge and understanding? I've gathered together 3 AB 800's, 1 WL 1600, 3 different size umbrellas, 48" stripbox, 36" stripbox, medium soft box, 5 light stands, a couple of booms, a dark grey backdrop. I would really like to gain the knowledge that you speak of, and want to go about it in the right way.


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