This was not the first time I was asked to make a Strobist Workshop in Luxembourg but time was not on my side also availability has been less to none over these years so I thought this was a good time to make this thing happen sooner than later.
The last one I did was in Brussels a couple of years ago with some excellent photographers. Although the approach had to be a little different from the one I did in Brussels this was also a good starting point to all the local photographers present.
The idea was to put, local photographers, in touch with Strobist gear and also create some simple setups so they can try out and share their questions with all in a one full day workshop.
The commune of Differdange got us a place in Oberkon called Espace H2O is an old water reservoir from 1912 that has been renovated into a cultural space.
We started out by filling in and signing a photographer's and model agreement concerning the photos to give to models and also the Make-Up Artist. Sticker with names was also available so that everyone could talk to each other without having to always ask for their names.
I started out by giving a quick view of the gear they can use for a specific kind of light, although I did not have brought a lot of gear has of airplane restrictions I kind of had more than enough to show all the essential pieces that you should not forget to bring with you when you travel abroad.
From DIY (Do It Yourself) snoots, grids to the more commercial and expensive ones through the 25,00 euro triggers to the more expensive Pocket Wizards, the Westcott small foldable umbrellas, ball bungees and some of the on location techniques and tricks I use with that gear.
I also wanted to point out the basic of the basic and why the use of the flash outside your camera can bring you benefits that some may never have heard.
I decided to include a 30 minute Make-Up lecture with a local make-up artist so that everyone could have a contact with preparations for a shooting.
On this 30 minutes MUA Tania Tinor with the help of Mary Kay cosmetics created 2 looks with 2 models one for B/W and another for Color photos as many of the photographers love B/W this was an important thing to get included in the package of this workshop.
Wrap up and Lunch afterward...
We began in the afternoon with the practical and technical part of the equation.
We started out with direct on camera flash.
On these example shots I use the flash on camera direct to the model "Shari" on Landscape mode. You can see that there is almost no shadows behind the model has they are covered by her face and go behind her. Still the light is very harsh on her face producing a hard light photo. Typical for the on camera TTL flash situations.
If you turn your flash to Portrait position, has you normally would in a single shot photo, you will get a awful very dark shadow on the left side of the model "Shari" (Right side of the camera) produced by the direct TTL flash. The light is still very hard on the model although well exposed.
Using the same principle has previous photo, except on this one I got the Gary Fong LightShpere with the flash turned upwards to try and soften the shadows a little.
Well in a visual way it did a fairly good job on the model "Shari" has it softened a little bit the shadows but not with much drastic difference from the previous direct flash.
Let's take it to Portrait mode...
You can still see a dark shadow behind the model "Shari" but comparing it to the direct flash photo you will also notice that it's much softer and not so much pronounced. This could be a pretty good solution for some occasions but as previously nothing much has changed on the model "Shari".
Side By Side (Direct TTL flash on the Left and Gary Fong LightShpere on the Right).
See what I mean on the shadows? Direct Flash=Deep Dark Shadows; GF LightSphere=Softer Dark Shadows (This could be interesting if you are looking for this kind of look, in your photos, in a particular situation).
Now I brought in a small 43" Westcott Collapsible White Umbrella with a Manfrotto 001B stand, a 580EXII and a pair of Pocket Wizards to trigger the camera and the flash. A very affordable and portable solution.
As you can see light has change dramatically. Now it's much softer on the model's "Sari" face... but hey... what's that shadow on the top left side of the frame??!!!
Ah!!! that, well that is the reflection of the umbrella light spill.
Pay attention to where you put your umbrella has it spill light out of the edges it can also get into the picture.
This was made on purpose so that photographers could notice it and start to be careful to where they put the model in relation to the umbrella.
I moved it a little bit more to the front of the model "Shari" and grab another quick shot.
Has you can see now you have a more soft image and almost no shadows behind the model. This could be a no front cover model photo shoot but it shows what you can do with just one small strobe and one umbrella.
Let's move the umbrella around and see what we got...
Right in front of the model like if it was on the hot-shoe only this time a little bit upper from the camera axis and with a big soft umbrella on it.
Doesn't look nothing like the straight on camera flash does it?
Let's move the umbrella a little bit more to the right side of the frame left of the model.
This is what you will get.
Don't judge this images as the perfect lit photo or the best model pose or whatever you may think it would be better or missing. The idea here is just for demonstration purposes on how the light interact with model "Shari" using different positions and maintaining the distance from the light to the model "Shari".
This was created for simple and usable photos, not my idea to create a super production photo with just one umbrella (you can, but not at this moment), I also use no photoshop on any of the photos I present here. Clean and simple!!
The first setup I created was a very simple one that any of the participants could have done at home with their strobe.
I use the Lastolite softbox (in this case, because of lack of umbrellas) on top of the model "Viviane Poensgen" and a big reflector under her to create that Beauty look photo. Simple but efficient for when you need to create that Beauty look.
And here are 3 examples of what you can get with that setup. Left Model "Viviane Poensgen", Center model "Sandy Burger" and Right Model "Lynn Jungels".
Next was time for participants to try out.
As this makes things much more funny and interesting ;)
On the next setup the idea of having 2 strobes and could control the light separately was my main goal for the participants. This way they could have a very good control over light either on top of the model and even in the bottom.
This is David Hobby idea and he calls it Clam Shell light. With this kind of light you have a total control over each one of your lights and also how each one will influence the model and the shadows.
(model Samantha Berna on the Left and model Sarah Teixeira on the Right)
Here are a couple examples of the light you can produce with it.
Although they look similar to the ones you can accomplish with the Softbox and Reflector (Beauty Light) here you have a much more controllable light either on top or bottom part of the model.
We also had time to experiment with hard light as one of the setups was intended to be just that. How to work with hard light and mix it with ambient light.
I use a DIY Grid direct to the model and made all participants take photos with it with no extra light. This as became a very difficult test as most of the participants never had use this technique for their photos.
I use the wall on this passage as a background and made this simple pictures of the model "Shari". You can even notice the hard shadow on the back wall, that i tried to conceal, and on the left side of the model's chin (right side of the camera).
I also showed 2 examples of what you can do when you mix the DIY Grid Spot with the ambient light to create a more pleasing image or to mix the model "Dina Freitas" with the environment that was surrounding her. This is that good example when you shoot a corporate photo where you would like to have some of the environment mixed with the person you are photographing and still give some accent to the person.
This was lit from the above, maybe not the right choice, but has I said before this is just a practical example of what you can accomplish with this kind of light.
Some more photos of the setups and the participant photographers "working" on the setups.
On the last setup I wanted that the participants could move the main light around and have a more freely style to photograph the models and create a more distinct look to their photos while maintaining the background light and by only moving from one side to the other the main light that was an white umbrella with a strobe.
First I setup the background light, but in the end I add a red gel to the strobe to make it pop a little more. As you can see on this photo the background is a little orange and I needed it to be more colorful to go with the white skin, blond hair model "Viviane Poensgen".
And this is more or less what you will get with this kind of setup. A very soft light around the models face and a quick fall off on the shadows.
BTS (Behind The Scenes) shot. You can see that the face and the upper body part are soft illuminated and the legs and bottom part are in the shadows, this was intentional has I was only making the picture for half body length. Notice how close the umbrella is to the model "Viviane Poensgen". You also notice, on the floor, the small stand for the background light.
Final shot. Pretty good for a quick one... ;)
Here is the same shot but this time only with the background light.
I also had time to grab a quick one of model "Viviane Poensgen" and her mother under the same set of lights.
And with this we ended the 1st Strobist Workshop in Luxembourg.
It was a very good experience to everyone and all of the participants grab good photos of all the setups. Some had some experience in photography but never had tried the Strobist technique.
I would personally would like to thank all the participants, models, MUA Tania Tinor and Mary Kay Cosmetics GmbH for all the work they've made during the workshop.
Also thank you to Ville de Differdange for getting us the place (Espace H2O) and warm welcome of their village to the Strobist Workshop.
Last but not least, my sincere THANK YOU to photographer Claude Piscitelli who lend most of the gear and all the connections for making this happen and to photographer Jose Cravo also for the connections and contacts locally without whom this would never ever been possible.
I also made a BTS (Behind The Scenes) Video so you can peak ;)
Hope to see you on the next one...
Meanwhile have fun and take lots of pictures!!!!
Here are some photos of the participants in the workshop:
For more photos please check the Strobist Luxembourg group.