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The Lighting Workshop…or, John Starace is a Beautiful Man

Jan 24

In Seminars & Workshops at 10:10am

He paid me to say that. Kidding.

Veteran firefighter….

Budding actor….

John just retired from FDNY, as did Joe Hodges, who will join us later today. Great guys, great subjects in front of the lens.

For some reason, workshop participant Keith wanted to have a pic of John and I with his very well traveled Scooby Doo….

Photo by Chris Hountas

We keep rockin’ the pixels in Dobbs. Martina came back. Obviously because of Andrew’s magnetic presence. Yowza!

With Martina, we did some interesting mixes of big flash and small flash.

Above is an Elinchrom 27′ beauty dish, with a floor bounce from another Ranger. Also, though, in the interests of keeping it simple, below is one SB-800 unit through a tri-grip diffuser panel.

Physical trainer, and as far as I’m concerned, a hugely talented presence in front of the lens who should be snapped up by one of the big agencies in NY, Valarie Wong, also came back, and given her physicality, had a different feel under the same beauty dish setup than Martina did.

She was also extremely patient in the cold basement as we spritzed water on her.

Now, the above is all done with small flash. Four in the background, 2 gelled red, 2 gelled blue. I had ’em each to their own side, and Drew came up with the very good idea of mixing them. In other words, cross light with red and blue each going to one side. Mix it up. Nice result. Overhead is the infernal Ezybox hotshoe softbox. Man, that thing is getting to be almost like cheating, the light is so simple and good. On the floor we have two SB-900 units, bouncing into a Lastolite silver reflecting panel. And then Will is following Valarie’s face with a Honl-gridded SB-800, worked to a low power and warmed up with a bit of CTO gel.

Then we got a little nuts with the water.

I noticed the speculars that popped up on the plastic sheeting when we sprayed Valarie. Made me think of looking at Times Square through the windshield on a rainy night. So Leah sprayed down the entire backside of the plastic and we let fly, in a fairly uncontrolled way. I say that cause having Martina explode in front of the lens is definitely one of those hang on to your hat moments you have as a shooter. She is physically expressive and exuberant, and yet she is able to maintain a calm, lovely elegance to her face while her considerable arms and legs are busy whirling about in beautiful fashion. Quite remarkable. She is also completely sweet, but will throw you a zinger now and then. A native of Slovakia, she got in front of the camera in a Slovak army jacket, shouldering John Starace’s halligan and she looked at me with kind of a Clint Eastwood glint in her eyes and said, Vaht do you vant?” Oh my. This is where confidence is required at the lens.

Dawn came back. Physical trainer, mother of three, friend of Lynn, beautiful and down to earth. A pleasure to work with. She’s been with two classes so far, and they have all loved her. We did a high key feel with a red outfit and sunlight that stayed with us surprisingly long.

SB-800 through an Ezybox, and another bounced off the floor. Shot at 250th at f/14. Obviously fighting the volume of sun. My bud Matthew London was in the class and asked about wrestling down the wall highlights. Hmmm…problem. Enter high speed sync. More SB units. Gotta get more power. Out goes the light shaping tools, and enter–hard light. Auto FP is a great tool, but you gotta dipsey doodle with it to make it work. You gotta push the lights close and double them up, or triple them up or….you get the idea. The flash pulses during the exposure, so you lose power, and you have to take steps to get power back.

The above is 1/8000th at f2.8. Got the background down, and a different feel up front. More tk…

Rennan says:

on January 24, 2009 at 10:37 am

The workshop was a jolt of light and energy that I needed.
What can I say? Amen!

Michael Reinhart says:

on January 24, 2009 at 11:15 am

Joe, I can’t thank you enough. Yesterday was the best day EVER! Seeing how you interact with your subjects was inspirational. You and your team, were a delight to learn from.

And John Starace IS a beautiful man.


Matt Bamberg says:

on January 24, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Great portraits and use of light in the background.

Matt Bamberg

Mark K. says:

on January 24, 2009 at 1:56 pm

What a week, what a cast…can only imagine how much fun it was.

But really, Scooby doesn’t hold a candle to Flo, though. :-)

Thanks for sharing all this!

Mat Hayward says:

on January 24, 2009 at 2:02 pm

The shot of Valarie Wong with her arms over her head is very cool! They are all cool of course (shamelessly sucking up to veteran photographers has never been beneath me) but that one really stands out. Talk about some serious abs! Oh yeah, the light looks good too :)


Shaun says:

on January 24, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Each day seems to be getting better, that means Monday should be great! I really wish I could make it with Jenn on Monday!!! Thanks for adding another class!

Richard Cave says:

on January 24, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Looks like you had a good day, if you come to the UK we sometimes have nice days here. I promise to buy you a beer and pie if you come and visit….


Chris says:

on January 24, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Hi Joe and gang. I would like to thank, you, your team and the talent. It was truly an inspirational workshop. The techniques that were taught within this one day will be used by me for a lifetime. Keep up the great work and workshops, I would sure like to participate in another one.

Dave Hutchinson says:

on January 24, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Wow..what a great portraiture lesson. Thanks for sharing! -Dave-

Jay Mann says:

on January 25, 2009 at 2:31 am

Hey from Libya,

Joe, you realize that you have been spoiling us this week. A post EVERYDAY? This is getting to be a habit. Jeez, now we are going to expect this everytime:{)

Gotta order one of those Ezy Boxes next time I am in North America.
Workshops look and sound like a lot of fun, educational, always inspiring.

Looking forward to your next post,

Seshu says:

on January 26, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Joe –

Would love to be a part of your next workshop. Please let me know when and hopefully it is again within driving distance. Wish I had made this one, though. Sounds like it was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to learn and share from each other.


Simon says:

on February 5, 2009 at 11:54 pm

whalie c is so faaat

Simon says:

on February 5, 2009 at 11:54 pm

so is whalie e

TJ Herrlich says:

on July 5, 2013 at 11:17 am

Beautiful? Handsome, maybe. Funny, sure. But….Beautiful??

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