This is a lengthy post, intended for photographers. If you just want to see the images...scroll on down!
I believe in learning all you can. Every year I try to do something that will further my education. Sometimes this includes reading books/blogs/discussing ideas in other industries that have nothing to do with photography. Sometimes this includes the same within the industry. I've attended seminars, and subscribe to educational DVDs several times a year to help open my eyes to new ways of doing things, better ways of doing things. This year I attended WPPI in Las Vegas (which I'm still in awe over), and I've signed up for two workshops this year to push me and help me learn more. The first was held last week, and here is my review.
Workshop: Turn Your Light On
Hosted and created by Ryan Christensen of Innovative Photography
Promises: A one day workshop to give you a hands on approach to lighting both in studio and outdoors.
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
What I expected: Off-camera lighting has started to become quite the rage with photographers, so I expected this to fill up pretty quickly because of that. Ryan is a good photographer, with obvious solid skills in lighting, and the price cannot be beat. I expected it to be a little hectic, but instructional and possibly splitting off into groups of three to help each other with set ups and experimenting.
What I hoped for: Solid studio lighting techniques, and figuring out better how to effectively use my flash outdoors.
My level with lighting before the workshop? Reasonable. I understand some of the basics and use lighting in studio, but didn't feel I had a grasp on utilizing better dynamics in studio. I've ventured into off-camera flash more recently and understand how to manipulate the settings somewhat, but again, would like a broader depth of knowledge to help me conquer that even more. I have been looking at getting more solid studio lights (I've been using Alien Bees in studio, and while they are decent to use, I've felt the need to get something better, and use the Bees for on-location work.) I've also recently invested in Radiopoppers (PX units) for flash lighting.
How it played out: Details were not sent out until the week of the workshop. I did get several emails from the Facebook group page ahead of this, pumping up the workshop and telling people to sign up. I was a little worried that no one else was signing up, but figured for the investment, it didn't matter because I'd still be able to learn a lot. When the details were sent out, we were planning on having a meet and greet for dinner the night before the workshop, but last minute that was changed to breakfast the day of. This was due to the fact that some of the other workshop attendees lived an hour or more away, and would be inconvenient for them. He did ask our opinion on this and I had none. I was happy with either.
We met the morning of the workshop at the Park Cafe in Salt Lake City. We had an enjoyable breakfast, and Ryan immediately put me at ease. I was the only person of four that had not met Ryan before, but I didn't feel like an outsider in any way. He was very easy to talk to and seemed confident, not nervous. Ryan picked up the tab for breakfast, which I thought was nice, and was not expecting.
After breakfast we headed to his studio space a couple of blocks away. We had a short slide-show presentation discussing the different aspects of lighting, and he asked questions to gauge how much we already knew.
When the slide-show finished he showed us a few examples of his work, but not in a gratuitous fashion. He simply was showing some of the different lighting set ups we could try. He had arranged for a morning couple to come and model for us, so we talked about what we wanted to do for the lighting set up. Ryan had us put together the equipment and told us what he liked and disliked about the equipment he was using.
One of the models showed up and we found out that the other half of the couple was not able to come, so it was a mad dash to call around and see if someone else could join us. One of the workshop attendees ended up bringing in the model. I wouldn't say I was really upset about it because model ended up being great to work with, but it was a time take-away, and that was a little bothersome. But we ended up shooting the female model while we waited. She was sweet and really tried to take direction. She normally does a different kind of modeling than what we were doing, and I think she might have felt somewhat out of her element. However, she was beautiful and worked with us to the best of her abilities.
It was interesting working in a new studio space, with new lighting set ups, and having everyone hovering around, but after the second model showed up I felt more at ease with what I wanted to do with them as a couple. We had free reign to pose how we wanted, and Ryan would help us to work through the poses in relation to the lighting. I would take a shot and he'd look and offer feedback on what way we'd need to move them in order to achieve more pleasing lighting.
We went to lunch as a group, where we were responsible for paying. It was fun, and the models joined us.
After lunch we went back to the studio where the rest of the models for the day met us, and we split up. I wanted to take some of the little girl in the studio, and one of the workshop attendees wanted to as well, so we stayed behind while Ryan took the rest of the group to a location not too far away.
When we'd finished doing our thing at the studio we called Ryan and met up with him and the other models and attendees. Ryan had to run back to the studio to grab some equipment, so we were left to our own devices for a bit. One of the attendees had already been instructed on how to use the ring light that Ryan had brought along and he was the one that showed me how to use that initially. Those were the shots of the blond girl below. I'd never used a light like that and was having some trouble getting enough light in her eyes and exposing for the background, so I felt limited in what I could do with the model for the time I had her. I decided I'd get out my flashes and do some practice with my own work and set up while he was gone, but unfortunately my batteries were dead and I didn't have extras. My bad. I knew I should have checked first.
When Ryan returned, another attendee had taken the model to do some stuff with, so I moved on to the couple, and had Ryan show me how to use the ring light with the soft-box attachment. I was happy to see that it was how I would typically use my own, similar lighting set up in the studio, so I just ran with it and had so much fun working with this couple.
It started getting windy and cold so we decided to end our shooting and head back to the studio for the last hour and talk workflow. Ryan showed us his and answered any questions we had regarding it. We ended things about 7:45 that evening, and by then I was tired and ready to get home. :D
Would I recommend this workshop? Absolutely and without hesitation. The price alone is worth it, but the hands-on approach was really, truly the best part of the workshop. It helped solidify ideas in my head because I could combine what I was doing with what I already knew about lighting. I loved that we had free reign to set up our models how we wanted to and to try new things. If I had to make a suggestion for future workshops, I would like to see the workshop split into two days. One day focusing on studio and one on outdoor lighting, with perhaps a price increase. It was pretty hectic with only four people trying to get all the shooting done, and I cannot imagine what 15 (the limit Ryan gave) people would look like. I also would have liked a little more background on studio lighting set-ups and what is typically used for what. I have a general idea, but would have liked a little more education on this. I did tell Ryan both of these, and felt comfortable with doing so. He took the feedback well.
So, without further ado, here are the images I produced for the day...I had some fun with the post processing in some of these, since, hey...this was all an experiment, right?