As I believe I said to Jason, who was sitting in the crowd for the Moment It Clicks tour stop, Nashville edition, “You didn’t think you could leave here without me photographing you, did you?”
The how of lighting is very much in evidence during this seminar, but actually more prominent is the question of the why of lighting. “Hey, I got high ISO. Why light anything anymore?” That’s a question that is asked a bit, now that we have all collectively gone to high ISO heaven. But, as I mention from the stage, ISO, high or low, is generally determined by quantity of light. How much or how little? It has nothing to do with the quality of light. And quality of light is where it’s at, generally speaking.
We work quickly during these days. The first hour is a show and tell about the nature and quality of light, and how certain kinds of light–backlight, hard light, soft light, soupy light might work to evoke a thought or a feeling. We talk about how light drapes itself on a scene, infusing it with charm, poetry, and perhaps, even, the power of memory. Under discussion is the simple fact that despite all we chatter on about the craft of light, meaning the light shapers, the distances, the f-stops and the relationship between the light you apply and the light that is simply there, the real question is about how the light limns the emotional core of the photo. Does the light speak to the viewer of the photo? Is it evocative, or appropriate? Is it right for the face or the situation at hand?
During the day, I show examples, such as FDNY firefighter Mike Morrissey, seen below, who lost his cousin, also a firefighter, on 9/11. The cross he holds honors his cousin’s memory, and is made of WTC steel. It is the emotional core of the photo, hence there is a small bit of additional light on that cross. It makes picture sense, as you want to gently, subtly, move the eye of the viewer to an area of the photo you want them to encounter. It shouldn’t be screaming, abrupt or exclamatory. The light should be effortless, like a languid current that ferries a a leaf afloat along its way. You want them to think it was their idea all along to spend some time with your picture.
With Jason, up top, it was about a five minute photo session. Two Speedlights, each through a tri-grip diffuser, on either side of him. D4S, 70-200mm lens, f8 @ 1/250th of a second. TTL. You have to find the picture, or in this case, the face, first. Then comes the light. More tk….
Next week, the Canada leg of the tour! Three dates in Ottawa, Calgary and Toronto. Hit this link for locations and details.