Saturday, November 10, 2007

Brussels Strobist Meeting - 3rd Nov.07

Brussels_Strobist_Meeting_001After a long week of editing videos (sorry guys but I'm a photographer and this things takes time to edit and render afterwards) and images from the meeting in Brussels I can honestly say that it was a MAJOR success.

The planning took me more time and effort that I could imagine but in the end it was very rewarded for me and to the people who attended.

If you want to know a little bit about the story:

I started this with a simple Flickr photo add on my stream and started a discussion thread here so that I could get some feedback from the people interested. I did not had, at the beginning, 100% sure if this was to be happening in Luxembourg or Brussels and since I did not know any good places to put all people together I was hoping that more photographers could be available from Luxembourg than from Belgium.

My idea was to get something started in this part of Europe. I already know that in the US they are making a blast all over. Also in the UK people are now getting together and sharing the Strobist knowledge more often and creating different challenges each time they make a new meeting. At the moment I’m writing this the UK Strobist people are gathering for a Strobist sports challenge, I was invited but due to some unfinished dish washes could not make it to this one, sorry lads.

Also because there were none available by these parts I decided to venture myself into organizing one.

This would be very simple (my first thoughts) and what I was trying to start was some of the more basic stuff so it could call upon arms the young Strobists and can also make it interest to the more experienced one’s to have some new ideas and fun along the way.

"Think balance..."

This was intentionally to be a meeting and not a Strobist workshop so no money should be involved (then again me and my good reasonable thinking).

But after consulting the gurus on these matters at the Florida and Seattle Strobist guys they advise me on making some kind of admission fee to guarantee that people would show up and that models could be rewarded somehow with that money.

"Hey guys you got to agree with me on this... sometimes even people paying they do not show up" :)

So the small admission fee of 30,00 euros was then introduced on the Flickr discussion page and started to generate some more attention to the ones who would like to attend, (so, if it's not for free then some value must have) more emails were starting to arrive from Belgium and a lot more people were interested on making this happen in Brussels than in Luxembourg so I decided to take the risk and make it happen in Brussels.

Here goes the add just in case you want to start something like this near by your place:

“Number of people will be at most 10 photographers divided in 3 groups of 3 photographers where one will photograph and the other 2 will assist in a rotation basis. All photographers attending will be able to rotate through all 3 sets and making their own shots always assisted by me or by other nominated photographer.

Good self motivation is needed and knowledge of Strobist methods. At least one trigger flash with remote trigger (PW or GI or other) is required. This would make things much easier on exchanging gears if needed.

I can supply 2 triggers for Gadget Infinity and 4 receivers as well as Pocket Wizards 1 Trigger and 2 PW2 (Triger/Receiver). 2 Nikon SB26 with power packs and 1 580EX with power pack as well as hot shoe connections, stands, clamps, umbrellas and other DIY gadgets.

Any suggestions on renting a roof or a quite place (maybe some old houses) in the surroundings of Luxembourg or Brussels, for 10, as long as some models for TFCD with a released signed for each participant would be more than welcome.”
This would make people know that at least I could support some gear and were willing to travel from Luxembourg to Brussels to make it happen.

I then got the 3 models for the event. They simply were great people and seemed very fond of this kind of shooting when I called them so I decided to pick them up.

Tebrina, Mike and Gracia.


The location was Didier Jouret who got it. An excellent location at Tour & Taxis and this one was free for the group even though the place is pay for these kinds of things. THANKS Didier for getting us such nice and fine place.


The group has quickly reached 10 people and I was more than anxious that this could finally take place in Brussels, the group was formed by - Rui M Leal (Organizer), Ken Crites (Ken Crites), Claude Piscitelli (Blog), Michele Jamrozik (web page), Alain Reyers, Richard Jungschlager (o7photographs), Peter Reinders (illogical42), Jeroen Janssen (Jorren), Didier Jouret (Didier Jouret) and Walter Vaesen (wava_123). Check their Flickr pages for some more photos of the sessions and models.


So for the setup plans I sent to everyone in the group some setups that could be recreated in order for us, at location, would not look at each other and ask - what the hack are we gonna do now?

The plan was simple… people just needed to go into the Strobist blog, prior the meeting, under the Lighting 101 and check the links for each subject that we were exploring that day and get some ideas for some setups they wanted to test out, also with simple the setups that I had printed and gave them on location would provide a good start up point.

Take a look at some videos from previous meetings so you can also get some ideas:

Schedule for the day:
09:30 - 09:45 - Morning check-in at the front door of Tour & Taxis. People arriving by car can use the parking lot for 2,00€, after all it seems that the park was free that day.
09:45 - 10:00 - Models & photographers meet and greet, sign of release form. Brief introduction to the sessions and organizational procedures as well as setting the setups, organization of the 3 groups with 3 photographers each based on experience and Strobist techniques and knowledge’s and Q&A.
10:00 - 13:00 - Shooting 3 Models in a 3 different environmental situations in a Strobist context.

- Bouncing off of walls and ceilings with model Mike
- Hard Light with model Gracia
- Head Shot in a Corner with model Tebrina

13:00 - 14:30 - Lunch and some talk about (lunch time could be shorter if the location has good accesses). If time will permit, we will be looking the images produced on computer and discussion matter concerning the setups, Q&A briefing and suggestions.
14:30 - 17:30 - Shooting the 3 models in another Strobist context.

- Cross lighting with model Gracia
- Using Gels to correct Light with model Mike
- Snoots, Gobos and Grids with model Tebrina

So I had almost everything covered and all people were confirmed including the models so I was good to go to Brussels and get things started.


Well after arrivall we all signed a simple release from in order to give some guarantees for the models and to us photographers and I briefed everyone so that we would not have too much mess since as upon arrival I saw that the place was huge and the possibilities for creating beautiful photos were more than what we would came for.

This for sure would make some people wishing we could made different setups and so on… you catch my drift ;)

So that no one would come with extra ideas I decided to brief and give print copies to all about what we all suppose to be doing there on that day. I was the organizer and would not participate in any shooting except taking a few shots of each of the sets so I can fill my part on delivering the photos to the models.

Let the fun begin!!

We setup the groups by putting a more experienced photographer (I mean a photographer that at least would have some previous experience with Strobist lighting) and also getting someone in that group who would not be very familiarized with the techniques so he/she could be receiving some input from the others and get help if needed.

Well, this is all very nice when someone is writing it on a paper but on location everything turns out differently ;)

We arrange the groups in 3 and checked which gear should be used.

Then came in the Canon—Nikon matter so we put the Canon’s in groups and Nikon’s in another group expecting that this would make things easier.

Damn, I did not noticed any difference in lighting when I saw the final results… but then again the power of the masses speaks for itself :)

My idea was to have the 3 setups assembled and people would only have to change positions leaving the gear at site for others to use… OH WELL this was my main idea but when it comes to gear everyone wants to photograph with their own gear so we opted (in my opinion badly) that we should shoot with the gear from one guy in that particular group and carry it with the group each time we change the theme and model.

In my umbel opinion, and if you are planning on making one meeting like this, choose one equipment assembled at that place and do not move it from place to place.
We lost too much time carrying the gear from one place to another and also assembling it for each of the positions. People should get used to this kind of things I shoot Canon and Nikon flashes with no problem… isn’t that the same lighting or what ?

This caused that some people got less time (and now we got into the problem of time) with certain models. I do not know why but every time there’s this kind of meetings (photography or not) there’s always someone complaining about the time.

OH well, if I think better I did not had any time with the models… ahahahahah!!!

Even after giving everyone the pages with setups I had created for the effect I noticed that I had to explain to everyone on almost each group what they needed to do… Hey didn’t you read the pdf I sent prior and check on the Strobist pages for some more info ??? Guess Not!!


And there was me explaining each setup carefully so that everyone could understand what is a Bouncing of walls and ceilings means or a Hard Light or even a Head Shot in a corner techniques.

For me it was very good since I had time to visualize my lighting setups and explain them to the guys.

Like David use to say "Visualize the light before you shoot, be the Light!!"

I was expecting that at least the leader of each group would give some directions and help out but soon I realized that people would have come into a Strobist Workshop instead of a Strobist sharing meeting and the objective was to get at least some decent shots of the models, but then again I had to give a discount since this was our first meeting and I wanted that everything will go smoothly.

We agreed at the beginning to start with only one trigger by group since this would make things much easier for the one who was photographing and less painless for the model… again I got a group shooting with 2 triggers and complaining that everyone should get their own so it could be easier and faster to shoot the model (note: wasn’t this supposed to be a meeting so we could also share some knowledge? Where does faster fits in?).

So I noticed that while some people in that group were trying to figure out the lighting situation others were simply shooting the model ?!, they were shooting with the setup made with available light, with nothing… oh!! Well !! The important thing here was getting shots from the model… any way… let them work :)

Brussels Strobist Meeting model Gracia 1

I moved into another group to find out that they were shooting the Portrait on a corner subject with 2 umbrellas and not using the technique that were supposed to be happening. Then I had to explain what should be done to accomplish that kind of light and would people should be looking for.

But not everything is bad… at least the models were having fun and so the photographers and me… ahahahah!!!

Brussels Strobist Meeting model Mike 1

Lunch time was on the way and since we previously did not had agreed on bringing something to eat (Blame on me for this one!!) we decided to get into a restaurant that Didier made some reservations for us. I decided to pay the the models lunch it would not be very good having them eating some pork sandwich after all that work :)

You know how lunch hours can be, and better you know how after lunch hours can turn…

David is quite right about this, just a quick snatch and get back to work.

So we took too much time for lunch and instead of coming back to start at 14h30 we only started at 15h45. Everyone were with a sleepy face because lunch was very good at the Italian restaurant. This kicked us out into an afternoon very busy and lazy.

Next time I think it's better that everyone should bring their lunch.


We still had some time for a quick view of Richard's DIY gear. On top the dual flash adapter and on bottom the strobe barn doors that we use on one of the setups in the afternoon.


Cross Lighting was the theme and then again I noticed that people in that particular group were doing something different from what agreed… I know that people tend to be driven by the ambient and themes could turn out to be dull sometimes for the more experienced one’s but we should keep with what we have came for meeting not Workshop… so they agree and redid the setup and shooting.

The afternoon took us much more time wasted to assemble everything and again the factor of carrying all the gear from one place to the other were having its consequences, the behind schedule were also affecting everyone and the great lunch.

Brussels Strobist Meeting model Tebrina 1

Some of the guys were really getting it with the Model Tabrina and getting some cool shots in the corner that turned out very good.

I was having so much fun just by helping the guys to visualize the techniques and getting some shots, in betweens, of some of the best setups they were setting up.


I know it doesn’t seem like that when you are reading this from the beginning but believe me this was a great day and a great experience that I share here with you in case you want to make one meeting like this near your town and you can learn with some of the mistakes we have taken.


Well the day was almost at the end and the group shot must be taken.

The setup was already there so we made this with 2 shot through umbrellas one at each side.

Brussels Strobist meeting group

I was so busy that I did not get any setup shots of the groups (Shame on me!!) but I used my new Powershot G9 and got some cool small videos (you can see them at the bottom of the post).

Some things to have in mind next time:
-Some food and water near the location
-Lunch break too long
-Setups should be fixed and not traveling around with people
-1 shooter and 2 helpers in each group (only 1 transmitter this will cause less interference with the model)
-Groups should have people from same Strobist level of experience
-Some kind of time measurement ;)
-Reduce the number of setups and create some free style one’s so people could experience more
-One group leader
-More time to discuss subjects and clarify things
-People attending should know at least what we will be talking about

You can see the follow up discussion in here.

Final remarks:
This was a very good!!

As a 1st Strobist meeting around these places, people were having fun and the models also loved it.

Me? oh well I was tired at the end but also happy that all went well besides some bumps along the way.

Brussels Strobist Meeting model Mike 2

I would love to make another one but have to rethink the subscription fee so we could get more options and maybe a free meal ;)

But then again everything is open… maybe next time I will organize one in Germany since a lot of people has been asking me to make one there.

Only time will tell what will I do next and where.

Brussels Strobist Meeting model Gracia 2

I would like to thank the entire photographers involved in this meeting as well as the models for their time and patience.

Here is the part One of the videos.

And the Second part.

Until next meeting keep practicing and reading the Strobist blog.

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