You should never stop learning. It’s a credo I strongly believe in, and I always take every opportunity that is presented to learn something new. Sometimes those opportunities yield only a little tidbit or two, and other times it’s a wealth of knowledge. Either way, it’s exceptionally rare that I don’t walk away with some piece of useful knowledge within any learning experience. It can be a real life teacher, an article in a magazine, or an internet blog, but there is always something to be gained by all of the resources.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]A session that caught my attention was “Light It, Pose It, Shoot It” by Roberto Valenzuela. [/pullquote]
Attending PhotoPlus Expo in New York City is always a great experience. In addition to a plethora of paid seminars and classes, there are also great free seminars sponsored by the exhibitors. This year I decided to take a paid photo walk, and there was a nice list of walks to choose from. A session that caught my attention was “Light It, Pose It, Shoot It” by Roberto Valenzuela. Up to this point I had never heard of Roberto, but the subject of the walk caught my attention and I gave Roberto a quick Google. I was immediately blown away by his work and my excitement level quickly escalated. I immediately registered for the photo walk with Roberto Valenzuela!
By coincidence, just a few hours prior to the walk Roberto was on the Canon stage to demonstrate Canon Speedlite ideas and he made an excellent presentation to an enormous crowd huddled around the limited seating. Most impressive was the simplicity of the setups Roberto was using to achieve some fantastic photos. The equipment list was a backdrop, a single flash and as chance would have it, a collapsible diffuser which I’ve recently become a huge fan of in my own work, but he employed the diffuser in many different and interesting ways I’ve not yet experimented with.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]These were some great ideas that went well beyond the basic fill-flash to create some excellent effects, help separate the model from the background, and some good bounce techniques.[/pullquote]
We had a very professional model named Victoria with us for our walk, which allowed Roberto to demonstrate some real-world concepts, mainly using flash to improve outdoor lighting situations. These were some great ideas that went well beyond the basic fill-flash to create some excellent effects, help separate the model from the background, and some good bounce techniques. The primary goal, which was also demonstrated at the Canon stage, was flash photography that looks completely natural and organic.
I’m personally always apprehensive to use a flash in many scenarios, as nothing ruins a photo faster than hot spots, unbalanced light, and unnatural photos. I always cringe looking at wedding photos where flashes are used outdoors, usually at dusk. The entire dusk effect is lost when the brides white dress is blasted out with a poorly lit scenic backdrop. On the other hand, photography in low-light situations become increasingly difficult, even with high-end cameras with great low-light sensitivity.
Roberto has blended the best of both worlds, emphasizing the balance of light between a subject and a background. We’ve all taken that smartphone photo at night with a flash where the subjects are lit and the scenic background we wanted to capture disappears, a photo with this look is an incredibly dramatic example of poor lighting balance. The more we can balance light in the foreground and background, while still separating our focus from the backdrop, the better a photo we end up with!
I plan to do a lot more experimenting with my Speedlites now and will definitely share my findings and results. In the meantime, take a moment to check out Roberto’s website at www.robertovalenzuela.com.