Saturday, 22 August 2009

How to get the most from your Optical slave- OUTDOORS!

When I was 'breaking out' of photojournalism, what i knew about lighting could be written on the back of a very small postage stamp.

Yes, I had read a few bits and pieces but they did not quite hit the spot, I just did not grasp it

My good friend Dave Beck had just joined the Flash Centre in London and I started to visit him and his colleagues and to be honest that is where my learning began in earnest

Now, photographers in the pre internet days were VERY secretive to say the very least, and to hang out in one of the main hire centers in London to see what was the most hired equipment for what kind of job was an eye opener

We live in an age where knowledgeable retailers are a threatened species, where people shop on line to save a few quid.

Money is saved but who do you call for vital advise when things don't go to plan

I was shooting some time lapse photography with a Pocket Wizard Multi Max in North Yorkshire and I just could not quite work it out. I could have resorted to the manual (heaven forbid!) but I had lost that years ago...

One phone call to Alex Ray at the Flash Centre and he talked me through it for 10 mins until I had sorted the issue.

Try that with your box shifter types......

These guys know some great 'Sweet cheats'

Tricks which help you save your skin when you have really messed up

Some years ago when I was shooting the 'Guinness World Record' series I had travelled down to deepest Devon along with the long suffering Clare (who is now my producer) to photograph Anne Atkin who has the Worlds biggest collection of Gnomes

Now Devon is a long way from the Midlands where I lived at the time, and seems even further away when you have 6 lights to trigger outdoors and have only 1 hard wired sync cable.

Yes folks, I had left all the Pocket Wizards 300 miles away

I was in quite a pickle in deepest Devon

Optical slaves work by detecting the flash from another unit and triggering the unit wirelessly, all well and good but there was so much ambient light they were not detecting the 'trigger' flash

We were lighting such a large area that the shoot was in doubt, not helped by a colony of crows messing on us.....oh the misery....the tears...

So how did I get the shot?

I spoke to Sav at the Flash centre and told him my plight...

'Oh have you tried covering the optical slave receptors with something like cardboard or gaffer tape?'

Here is the optical slave uncovered

And with Sav's gaffer tape modification

By doing this the slave only 'sees' the flash and not the ambient light

Go try it yourself

Now, there is no way I could have got the shot without Sav's help that day

This is not meant to be an 'ad' for the 'Flash Centre'

What I'm advocating is forming relationships with your knowledgeable dealer, no matter who it is, you support them and they will support you

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Descendants- An Appeal for HELP from you guys.....

Those who follow my blog will know all about The Descendants'

Well I'm trying to get a TV company to make the a program or even a series about it

Believe me I have THE most exciting subjects in the pipeline

As they say its not what you know but who you know

So does anyone have any links to a TV station anywhere on planet earth who might be interested in making this with me?

Perhaps the 'History Channel' even?

If you could help me I would be VERY grateful and the finder would be most welcome on one of the descendants shoots...

Over to you

Maine Media Workshops '09

The Maine media Workshops, set in the picturesque town of Rockport, have always been very kind to me, providing nourishment to my creativity, while sharing my knowledge and experience with my class.

This was a vintage year indeed however, very special to me

The idea was to to split my class of nine willing and eager students into three groups of three and over the course of the week work on an epic photo of their own, under my watchful eye, advising them on lighting and production of the shot.

The results were outstanding

Have a look at the Facebook page the class created

Keep your eye out for for more updates as the class post them

Of course as tutor I can have no favorites, but I do love this shot by Claire Folger

A composite, following THE golden rule of the locked down tripod which I have covered in previous posts

It was put together by the talented and all round great bloke Andy Bloxham

We rounded the week off with a grand soot of girls in bikinis with a herd of goats (see top) and my good friend Jonathan Zuck shot a short silly video of the proceedings

And if it looks like we had a ball, we did!

Come and join me next year to join in the fun or check out the other classes there in 2010?