Working the learning curve – My latest experimenation

Richard Charpentier Canon Cameras, Notes from Rich, Photography, RLC Design, Tech Tips 4 Comments

Test firing the 580EX II in group A. Didn't care what I shot, but hey, it looked kind of cool.

For weeks I’ve been mentioning a project that I’ve been working toward. I know, I haven’t given you too many details or bread crumbs to work with (although, I have given a few). Sorry about that. So many distractions over the past few weeks…… sometimes you just can’t help them.

Finally, the time has come to talk about the big project.  It’s all based on inspiration.  And all the inspiration is of course, from outside sources.  What sources?

Well, has played a big role.  Then there’s Joe McNally, another source of inspiration and instruction.  Whether or not he knows it, he’s found a new fan in me.  Then there’s Syl Arena and his new site, Speedliting.  Finally, the major inspiration to start all of this “new project” stuff lies with several of my friends.

A 430EX II fires in group B. Full CTO gel explains the color in the Airstream.

Who am I blaming for this?  Well, Josh Gosell, Rob Jamason, and Bert Gildart.  I’ll start with blaming those three.  See, each of them have taken photos with “strobes” that have inspired me and made me say, “Hmmmmm, I think I might like to do that.”  Bert, for instance, has taken many inspiring flower photos outdoors where the image actually looks so nice you’d think it was taken in a studio with a black back drop.  Josh has taken some pretty cool images over the course of our knowing each other, and has mentioned strobist web sites often.  Finally, some of the cool work Rob Jamason has done since I met him several months ago has also inspired.

So thanks for giving me a new project guys!  Forgive me, I’m still learning…….and will be learning for some time to come.

Alright, we’ve talked about the reasons behind what I’ve been working on, now lets talk about what the heck I’ve been working on…….

In a nutshell, I’m learning how to deal with portable Speedlights.

About time.

For a while now I’ve wanted to become more knowledgeable about using Speedlights.   But there’s never been enough time, or available models, or one of 6 dozen reasons.  Just like years ago I never found the time to toy with Photoshop…..  and that whole sour grapes thing that went along with that!

Well, if you recall this year’s resolutions, one main goal was continued photographic learning.  And I’ve stuck to that goal with some major determination.  I want to improve my skills each day.  What have I done to reach my new level of “flash” understanding?

Jantina volunteered for some fun shots at the Airstream

The starting point was  I’m glad to be a member, and I’ll tell you, the price is so cheap in comparison to what you learn (provided you make use of your membership).  Over the past few weeks I’ve done the following courses:

  • Scott Kelby’s “Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It,” installments 1-3.  Yup, Scott has 3 new videos up that are great.  Lot’s of fun to go through, and after watching all three I want a studio to work in now……  Why is it everything Scott does, books / videos / classes, makes me want to spend money?
  • Joe McNally’s, “Creative Lighting” & “Photographing with One Light.”  After watching Joe’s videos I decided to check out his book, “The Hot Shoe Diaries.”  Great stuff.  No reviewing it here, I’m so far behind on this bandwagon.  But the good news is, great instructor on line, great book to boot!
  • Dave Ziser’s: “Wedding Photography Rapid Fire Tips and Tricks.”  I figured that on the fly lighting and portrait work with a well known wedding photographer couldn’t hurt.  Sure enough, I enjoyed the class and I’m now reading through Dave’s book, “Captured by the Light.”  I got it free after renewing my KelbyTraining subscription for one more year.

Jantina laughing as I work on getting two strobes out the window to fire on would help if the batteries were charged fully!

So, 3 Kelby Classes, 2 McNally Classes, 1 McNally book, 1 Ziser class, and one Ziser book.  That’s an awful lot of learning over the past few weeks.  Fortunately, it’s all been fun!

Why dive into flash so fully?  Simple, I want to expand on what I do.  See, I love landscapes.  I really dig ghost towns.  Route 66 and all things “throwback?”  Yeah, I’m there too.  And I’d love to improve each and every image I create in those genres.

So, what about an amazing landscape with someone in it to give perspective and additional drama?  How about a person fitting right into a ghost town scene?  And finally, what’ Route 66 without folks getting their kicks?

Clearly, getting into shooting people (with the camera, not the Glock) could lend to the types of images I want to make.  Even more, I could find a whole new way to entertain myself when taking pictures.

And all of this leads up to the project I’ve been working toward.

Months ago I was asked to help with a new album cover.  And I’ve been learning my butt off.  Could I have done the cover before this learning binge?

Yup, sure could have.  And I’m willing to bet the folks would have liked the results.

Will they like the final results better after this wholesale immersion in new techniques?  I think so.  See, here’s what I’m thinking.  I’ll still shoot the way I always have.  And I’ll adapt.  But now, that portable light coming along can really help me go even further.  And it just might help the images along the way too.

So, today’s pictures……they’re not the final culmination of the project, right?


They’re simply me toying around with a few ideas.  Jantina Russell popped by this morning to help out with one fun side project that’s been in my head.  We’re going to have to take a second run at the side project because the sky didn’t cooperate.  Why the clouds stayed west when they should have been east is beyond me…….

The 580EX II is camera left, pumped up pretty high for the daylight. Inside, a 430 EX with a full CTO gel giving the very warm lighting from inside.

What was the side project?

Well, I am an Airstreamer, right?  I live in an RV park, right?  So, what visions does that conjure up?  How about the pink robe, fuzzy slippers, big hair curlers in front of an Airstream?  Yeah, that’s the side project……….

I’m still working on it, and still learning of course.  Big thanks to Jantina for popping over this morning and letting me experiment with a few flash ideas.  She was a great sport, even when only one flash was firing while the other was recovering!

And just for fun….. the last photo in today’s post is a total mix of a ton of stuff.  What’s gone into this?  Well, here’s the short list:

580 & 430 Canon Speedlights.  580 outside and immediately off camera (left).  Zoomed to 105mm and punched up +2EV.  430 inside with a full CTO gel, clamped to my pull out table and firing at the ceiling to give a super warm interior look.  Shooting Aperture Priority with a -2EV selection to get the deep blue skies.  That’s just what went into shooting the scene.  Afterward I took a few new post processing steps I picked up in Kelby’s “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it,” series.  Is this the final image I was after?  Not yet, but give me time!  🙂

Comments 4

  1. Conjure up? Hmmm… Sounds like a Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadors song.

    I am still getting over the thought of a female in a robe in your trailer!!
    .-= Roger´s last blog ..Finally, some life! =-.

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    LOL Roger! Jantina is Ian’s wife (my business partners). So, nothing funny going on with women in robes in the Airstream. 🙂

    Hey, I like the Trailer Park Troubadours. Let me think…what fits my life…..? Ah, maybe KOA Refugee?

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