Enjoying Dubai, as always. Mohamed Somji and Hala Salhi always put on a class act of a photo program in this wild city. Today was the last day of a four day lighting bootcamp I taught here at Gulf Plus Photo, 2012. The group of instructors here is just a marvel of photographic diversity and experience. I could sit and listen to the wit and wisdom of the likes of Greg Heisler, David Burnett, Zack Arias and the whole group of shooters here literally all day. This has always been a “pass it on” industry, and one of the wonderful givebacks for me has been watching our young guys at the studio, Drew Gurian and Mike Cali, soak all this up. Drew has been a regular here now for three or so years, and this trip, a first for Cali, was his Christmas gift from the studio. I can see them just soaking all of this stuff in.
(Typical exchange: I was telling Greg about Drew shooting an impromptu head shot of the legendary and formidable John Loengard of LIFE magazine. John just needed an updated photo, and Drew, making conversation with John, inquired as to who shot John’s last head shot. “Eisenstadt,” Loengard airily replied. Drew of course at camera tried to suppress the onset of the shakes. Greg laughed and said to Drew, “Whoa, Eisenstadt, huh? Those are little shoes to fill!”)
Ah, the diminutive Eisie. Small in stature, huge in talent.
I had a great group of folks in my class, and we had a lot of fun pushing lights around in the sand and the intense sun of the Middle East. High speed sync, anyone?
Our last location today was a marble and tile manufacturing plant, and, much like New York City, you could definitely see the air you were breathing. By the time I left, I felt like Pig Pen. But it had, as they say, character, which made weathering the dust storm very worth it. Most reasonable people look at a place like this and go, “Yuck!” We as photogs charge in with a mad gleam in our eyes shouting, “This place is fantastic!”
Whenever I teach, I try to find even a brief time to shoot. Win, lose or draw, I just feel better getting my eye into a camera, even for the briefest of encounters. (And honestly, if you’ve survived in this business for any degree of time, you are no stranger to fast photo sessions.) But, shooting and continuing to breathe are closely aligned activities for me, so I always try to conjure something. At the end of the class today, when the bus was being packed, I asked the lovely Samar to step into an ancient bay that is often filled with tiles, but today, was completely empty.
This is a pretty typical situation for me to rely on TTL. I used a rotating tri-flash attachment with three SB900 units firing into a Lastolite 8 in 1 umbrella, which is a super simple light shaper I’ve come to really like. You can pull a center window out of the middle of the umbrella in shoot through mode, which produces a controlled light flow that is damn close to a soft box. Last thing I wanted was light to leak sideways onto these wall, and light them up with flash. It was important they stay looking like they’re being hit with only daylight. Hence the corralled but soft quality of light from the 8 in 1 was perfect for this situation.
Scoped around on aperture priority, and decided minus one EV worked. Had Cali suspend the umbrella just out of frame, and directly over her face, with a paint pole. Three units, all with dome diffusers, all in group A, all running at minus 2.3 EV. Cloudy balance, tweaked to A4. No gels. Hand held D3X, ISO200, manual focus. 14-24mm lens at f4.5 at 1/4 second. 16mm lens throw. Was lucky with the color and flow of the dress. First frame, at 5:10:45. Last, 5:14:05.
Even a couple minutes behind the camera can make you feel better. More tk….