Last year I attended the ‘Off camera flash’ photogym run by the London Photographers Meetup Group (LPMG) and found it really interesting and good value. I’ve since had a small amount of practice using my trusty speedlight (though maybe not enough) but the chance to use ‘proper’ studio lights was too good an opportunity to miss.
Eleven of us met in a small meeting room in fashionable Notting Hill and things started with a short presentation of the theory of studio lighting. This was quite handy for me as I knew almost none of it. We were warned beforehand that we should know how to use the manual features on our cameras or at least bring the user manual. I regretted not bringing mine as it would have told me the ‘flash sync speed’ of my camera. I had to guess (more of this later).
Following the theory, it was time for some practical. Each of us paired up with another photographer with the idea that we would shoot each set-up together. I got on very well with my pairing, Eric, but at least one pairing didn’t get on.
We had a model (Rosie) who posed for us and was quite happy to be directed, however, to start with at least I so preoccupied with trying to get to grips with the technical side I just left her to it. I did get a bit better at this later on.
The equipment was, in theory at least, very very simple. One main light to be used with a soft box and a smaller light for other angles. We did four different set-ups, the first two with black backgrounds and deep shadows (one very high contrast).
We then tried a set-up with the model in front of the softbox with the idea of a pure white background. The theory here was good but the soft box was a bit small for the lens I was using and you could see the edges. Also on this shoot I failed to realise that the sync speed was incorrect and I was getting a letterbox effect as the shutter was in the shot. A bit annoying. Lastly we tried to beam a gel coloured light onto a background wall behind the model. Ths would have worked but again my sync was out.
A really interesting evening which has now given me at least a basic introduction to studio lighting. As ever with these things the time you actually get shooting is really small so there is really not much chance to correct mistakes. Ideally of course it would be nice to have a studio to yourself for a few hours. Having said all that it’s hard to complain when all I paid was £10. I would definitely like to have another go.