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Photography School

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#1
I just got back from four days at the Golden Gate Photography School that was held at Mills College in Oakland, CA. My boss sent me to a class on lighting and posing and it was amazing. We learned from a Master Photographer named Mark Allen, who works out of Michigan. I'm still in the process of sorting through all my notes and photos, but I thought I'd share a few of the shots that jumped out at me. Each day started with lessons in the classroom, which led us to afternoons filled with outdoor shooting.

We started out learning more about studio lighting techniques and then worked on window lighting, which I thought was awesome. When you treat the sun as your primary light you can achieve a lot of the same lighting styles that you can in the studio. We then moved outdoors and did lots of shooting with natural light. I didn't use flash on any of these shots. The only illumination was the sun and a single reflector (either silver or white).

We did a lot of work figuring out proper exposures to eliminate blowing out highlights (I still blew out a few, though). Overall it was a fun, educational time. I recommend photography courses to anyone that wants to get better with the camera. I've got lots of ideas for new things to do in the studio as well as on location.

So here are a few of the natural light shots I took over the course of four days. Oh yeah, professional models are great (to look at) :)
 

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#2
I also walked around the campus after the class and shot stuff I thought looked interesting. This is my favorite.
 

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Chili

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#3
Cool, I'd really like to take something like that in. This winter I'd like to work on my exposure control under difficult circumstances.
 
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#4
Chili said:
This winter I'd like to work on my exposure control under difficult circumstances.
Interesting. :laugh: I usually just lose my temper under difficult circumstances! ;)

I'd love to send my daughter something like this.

Do you have
any more pics like the spindle photo, Kawidude:
?
 
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#5
olderndirtmom said:
Interesting. :laugh: I usually just lose my temper under difficult circumstances! ;)

I'd love to send my daughter something like this.

Do you have
any more pics like the spindle photo, Kawidude:
?
I don't have any more that are like that shot. I took a few shots of a really nice set of arches that were on the school campus, but they didn't turn out the way I'd hoped.
 
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#6
Chili said:
Cool, I'd really like to take something like that in. This winter I'd like to work on my exposure control under difficult circumstances.
Exposure still baffles me on some shots. Like the first one I posted here. We metered for the highlights on the girl, but you can see that some highlights are blown on the trees in the background. I have no clue how to get around that. Any tips on that Chili? I'm guessing I could stop down a bit for the background and just use a little fill flash to keep the model illuminated?
 

XRpredator

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#7
and Mrs. Dude looks as good as ever :)

well done.
 
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#8
XRpredator said:
and Mrs. Dude looks as good as ever :)

well done.
Actually, that's not Mrs. Dude. Although she'll be flattered that you think she looks like a model. Funny story about the girl in the first picture though. It was our last day of sessions and we were supposed to work on posing "Plus Size Models." So our class door opens up and THAT girl appears. The instructor had her wait outside while he told us that we'll need to imagine that she's much heavier than she really is. I guess the girl signed herself up as a Plus Size Model. She had a nice caboose, but I don't think she's anywhere near Plus Size.
 

Chili

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#9
Kawidude said:
Exposure still baffles me on some shots. Like the first one I posted here. We metered for the highlights on the girl, but you can see that some highlights are blown on the trees in the background. I have no clue how to get around that. Any tips on that Chili? I'm guessing I could stop down a bit for the background and just use a little fill flash to keep the model illuminated?
That would be my guess as well, but like I say that's why I'd like to take a course. The general rule of thumb is you can't recover what isn't there so if you blow out the highlights there is no data to "save". On the track it's more of an issue because I hate using flash, I generally just try to move to a different shot to avoid the situation, not the best approach I suppose but I'm already lugging two camera's and L lenses all day the last thing I want is to add a flash or two to the weight.
 

Rich Rohrich

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#10
Kawidude said:
Exposure still baffles me on some shots. Like the first one I posted here. We metered for the highlights on the girl, but you can see that some highlights are blown on the trees in the background. I have no clue how to get around that. Any tips on that Chili? I'm guessing I could stop down a bit for the background and just use a little fill flash to keep the model illuminated?

These are the situations when you bust out the Sekonic 558R light meter with the 1 degree spot meter and see how much dynamic range is really in the scene. I've found it to be much more accurate than the histogram in my Nikon, and the spot metered area is smaller than my camera's meter so I get a more accurate picture of what the camera will see in a specific area.

As good as the meter is in my camera (and it's REALLY good) I've found the handheld meter to be money well spent in the tough situations.

More times than not I realize that without fill flash I'll never be able to capture the full range of the scene when there is lots of contrast and strong natural light. I use my flash in places I never would have a few years ago. I'd say 98% of the pictures I shot at the Mods vs Rockers motorcycle show outside in the sunlight were done with fill flash after walking around for a bit with the handheld spot meter and looking at the range of exposure present.

http://www.shutterbug.com/equipmentreviews/accessories/0206sekonic/index.html

 
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#11
Rich Rohrich said:
These are the situations when you bust out the Sekonic 558R light meter with the 1 degree spot meter and see how much dynamic range is really in the scene. I've found it to be much more accurate than the histogram in my Nikon, and the spot metered area is smaller than my camera's meter so I get a more accurate picture of what the camera will see in a specific area.

As good as the meter is in my camera (and it's REALLY good) I've found the handheld meter to be money well spent in the tough situations.

More times than not I realize that without fill flash I'll never be able to capture the full range of the scene when there is lots of contrast and strong natural light. I use my flash in places I never would have a few years ago. I'd say 98% of the pictures I shot at the Mods vs Rockers motorcycle show outside in the sunlight were done with fill flash after walking around for a bit with the handheld spot meter and looking at the range of exposure present.

http://www.shutterbug.com/equipmentreviews/accessories/0206sekonic/index.html

Thanks Rich! That makes a lot of sense. This course was actually the first time I got to take a look at the Sekonic Spot Meter. It seems like a great idea when compared to my basic Minolta light meter. I noticed the use of flash on the Mods vs. Rockers thread and loved the results you got. You pretty much sold me on the Sigma 24-70 lens as well!
 
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Rich Rohrich

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#12
Kawidude said:
Thanks Rich! That makes a lot of sense. This course was actually the first time I got to take a look at the Sekonic Spot Meter. It seems like a great idea when compared to my basic Minolta light meter. I noticed the use of flash on the Mods vs. Rockers thread and loved the results you got. You pretty much sold me on the Sigma 24-70 lens as well!
There were a number of places while shooting Mods vs Rockers where I should have done bracketed shots with and without a flash diffuser dome. I have a lot to learn about effective use of flash, but at least it's starting to make some sense to me. One thing is for sure, I carry a couple of flash heads (Nikon SB800s) with me all the time now, and use them in places I never would have imagined a few years ago.
 

Rich Rohrich

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#13
This one is a perfect example. The fill flash helped out a ton, but I failed to use a diffuser dome on the flash so the light seems way to artificial and ruins the picture.

Like I said, I still have LOTS TO LEARN about flash. ;)

 
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#14
I've got the 4th of July biker rally coming to town next week, so I think I'll bring my flash with me this year. It would have never occured to me, but I can see that it's helping out in your shots. I've got a Canon 430EX flash and I just got a Stofen Omnibounce diffuser. I've only used it a few times but it's been great. It's great for bounce flash indoors and it smoothes out the harsh flash really nicely.

I just checked Stofen's website and they do indeed make a diffuser for your SB800's.
http://www.stofen.com/Products/Index.html#Nikon
 

Rich Rohrich

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#15
Kawidude said:
I've got a Canon 430EX flash and I just got a Stofen Omnibounce diffuser. I've only used it a few times but it's been great. It's great for bounce flash indoors and it smoothes out the harsh flash really nicely.

I just checked Stofen's website and they do indeed make a diffuser for your SB800's.
http://www.stofen.com/Products/Index.html#Nikon
The SB800 comes with a wide-angle diffuser that looks similar to the Stofen, but I'm guessing they probably have different characteristics. Time to do some checking. Thanks for the tip. ;)

I've been using the Lightsphere CLOUD diffuser with great results, but I didn't think it was necessary for this type of shooting. After I got home and looked at my shots I did some tests shooting pictures of my Bonneville in the sunlight and found out the Lightsphere would have been PERFECT for the street shooting . :bang: Oh well I figure old Soichiro Honda was right, “Success is 99 percent failure”. :nod:

http://store.garyfonginc.com/licl.html
 

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