One thing I’m very grateful for is good friends who invest in me. Sure, I love all my friends, even those who don’t invest. But the ones who have really didn’t have to… I love that they believed in me, and still do.
In the realm of photography, I have had several friends volunteer a lot of their time to help me learn the craft of taking photos. Without them, I would not have come as far nor have reason to aspire to go even further.
The sceneries I’ve done photos in, the conditions of light testing, and the ideas tested are quite varied. I remember times when it was really cold out… I’m bundled up… and the modeling friend is dressed all chic so I can get good use of the light and outfit. I can’t thank them enough.
Elizabeth graces the lens
Today, taking a trip down memory lane to visit one of those cold near winter nights of testing lighting. I had learned that certain fabrics bounce back light in such a way that the image does not come out as I’d like.
Meaning… the glossy reflective fabric often bounced light back such that the camera thought there was way more light than there was… and the image would come out very dark. (sparing the technical jargon for why the images came out underexposed)
This was a serious problem for me in the early days. Especially for weddings. A lot of the gowns just reflected light right back and I was left with darkened images. This threatened to derail my wedding photography career before it had a chance to grow.
On impulse, I asked my friend to allow me to do a light test. It was cold out. It was getting late. She had a date to go to. But her outfit was not only festive, it was the exact material that was tripping me up badly.
Did I mention it was cold out?
When she heard how I was struggling with the material, she agree to do three photos. They came out really well. It helped that I was using the ambient light to my favor instead of using the flash. The only photo with the flash came out way too dark. My friend saw my dilemma.
Her date texted her asking for a few minutes of delay, as he was stuck in traffic at the time. With time to spare, my friend offered a deal I could not pass up. A night light test close to her place so that she could get ready for her date after the light test. (I’m making myself look good by not mentioning how I put the idea out first… to be totally transparent)
Sure, it was out of my way, but when one is getting a model for free, it’s a very small price to pay for the opportunity.
The short test proved to be anything but short. I tested the native flash of the camera. I tested two slave flashes, I tested single slave flash, I tested bounced flashes, I tested combination of setting sun and flash, as well as street lights with the flash.
It was the single most comprehensive light test I ever done to date. And, to my grave chagrine, I didn’t think of writing notes at all. A habit I’m still struggling to overcome. However,the settings were not lost from memory. I learned so much that night.
I think by the time she was done warming up on the trampoline, she was also plum tired from all that jumping about. I learned how to capture motion in night using my flash… all by how I set up the camera before the shot… so in motion, there is nothing to adjust for.
I had no reflectors at the time and am half tempted to redo this light test one day with reflectors. It’s the best education I could not afford to pay for. Plus, this afforded me a lot of time in post production editing. There was no pressure to turn the images around and deliver them. I could test and tweak to my heart’s content.
Looking back this many years at these images, the lessons still floods me. I use a lot of these techniques today to get much better photos.
She did not have to stand in the cold that many hours to help a friend out. I will forever be grateful for the sacrifice she did that launched many years of happy photography. Plus so grateful she didn’t get sick from being out in the cold that long!
For those who don’t know and are curious, I had to take a bit of leave from doing the art I enjoy to address the complexities of work-life balancing. Photography was always an income producing hobby. Now, it’s one I miss and wonder if I still can covert it to a full fledge income stream. But that’s for another time, another thought, another blog post.
Thank you very much Elizabeth for your time, your feedback, your many many hours given. They’ve changed my career path.
Until next time, keeping that lens well focused on learning.
Below will be a few other photos from that long night test. Others will be shared on my social media. Don’t worry, you’re seeing the best of the set…. you’re not missing out at all.
There were many photos that just weren’t good enough to post anywhere. Those had a lot of valuable lessons. Especially when it came to the trampoline. What was learned on the trampoline later came in handy for other “action” shots in the test… and later in other shoots I’d end up doing.
Some of the shots were outtakes between tests sessions. Moments of adjustments for the camera and for Elizabeth to warm up. Some were good enough to share. Enjoy the outtakes