Saturday afternoon and evening saw Glynn and I back at the Abbottsford Convent running our first Advanced Flash Photography workshop. Having spent the past year running our Creative Flash Photography workshop, we felt it now necessary to build a workshop event that could take students from previous workshops another step forward in their understanding of light manipulation in the camera. Our Creative Flash Photography workshop begins this wonderful process by removing the distaste and fear of flash that many photographers start with and revealing essential principles that make flash a more useful tool in their everyday photography. The afternoon ends with off camera flash and strobist techniques. But there is much more to still learn after that. Our Advanced Flash Photography workshop was an obvious next step and a necessary addition to our workshop repertoire.
Our models for the afternoon and evening were Sophie Van Den Akker of "Emerging Nymph" workshop fame, and a newcomer to our workshops, a lovely German tourist, Stefanie Walther. Both models brought different qualities to the workshop which rounded out the experience for all and provided different looks and faces to the photographs. We even used the infamous host of Shutters Inc, Bruce Williams, as a model for one of our setups. He was actually quite willing! Considering he had flown down from Sydney to come and take photographs -as against being in them, I can only say "Thanks Bruce" - you were awesome, dude!
The workshop began with several studio strobist lessons, enabling those who attended to take beautiful portraits using very basic equipment. Starting with just one small flash through an umbrella and then building into two and three flash setups, we ended that session with the addition of Honl gels, snoots and grids. This 'studio' session was a great lesson for those who attended as it proved that beautiful portraits can be achieved anywhere if you know how to use the equipment you have to its complete potential. That learning curve never stops, but it needs to start somewhere. Our opening session was intended to point that out.
After Sophie left, Stephanie stepped up. Well, actually, she sat down. Placed cross-legged against a plain wall in a room filled with window light, we started another session using one flash and a Honl 1/8th grid to prove a point. We showed how with just one flash and deliberate exposure for flash only you can again create an image so completely unseen to the human eye and available only within the camera. This simple setup yielded so many variations of photographs among our customers and friends that I must admit to having been a little astounded. In fact, having completed the studio session, my good friend Scott remarked that of all the photographs he had taken so far, this was the lesson he was taking home with him. Its simplicity impacted upon him heavily and encouraged him with its potential.
The evening continued well after our 8 o'clock intended finish. We like to overdeliver I suppose. But as the sun set and dusk fell into night, the structures within the convent area became our new playground and new images were slowly established, taught and taken. I have to admit to being very tired at the end of this workshop and yet nonetheless typically excited by what we had achieved. Not only were some beautiful photographs taken but there were some wonderful lessons and lighting principles learned by all - including me. There is nothing like teaching photography when it comes to learning. I have learned more by teaching than I ever did by doing. I think the process of articulation reinforces what you subconsciously do in your daily photographic process that it enables you to grow exponentially.
At least that has been the case with me. But I would recommend it to every photographer out there.