Recently, I invested in some equipment that I’ve been holding off on buying for my company for a couple years. The economy hit our household just as it’s hit so many homes around the country.
When Tina decided she’d go into business with me, I said, “Sweet cherry pie. I’m investing into the business.” With her and I together, at least we can succeed or fail together.
My main new investments were a wireless system for my existing flashes and strobe, a light meter and a collapsible backdrop. I had a wireless system before, but it sucked. It was infrared, and it didn’t always work.
Regular-reader Xina might remember that when I shot her wedding, I would say, “Tina, did the flash fire?” And she’d say nope or yep. I wasn’t using the flash to light the shot. I was using the flash to fill out the faces. Before the end of the day, Xina’s dad was saying, “It fired” or “It didn’t fire.”
With my old setup, half the time the flashes never fired, because they couldn’t see the wireless unit sitting on my camera or they didn’t fire because the equipment was defective.
But now I’m souped up with a radio signal system from PocketWizard that works really well.
I’ve never owned a light meter before, but I’ve used one on occasion. Now that I’m light metering, shoots go much quicker, because I’m not guessing anymore or trying to use my camera’s internal light meter. Now I know how much light I’m getting and how much more or less I need to increase/decrease my depth of field. It’s fantastic, and it’s really pushing my shots up the quality ladder.
And I bought a collapsible backdrop, which can work as a backdrop or a large reflector.
I want to talk more about lighting. I have some friends, including regular readers, who have recently bought new cameras. I learn a lot from new camera enthusiasts, because I can learn a lot about framing and angles from folks who are balls out shooting for the hell of it.
One of my biggest, “Oh, shit don’t!” moments are when new camera junkies say, “I want to shoot all natural lighting.” I can’t tell you how many people tell me that, and I’m afraid that people will be telling me that for years to come.
Using all available light is a purest way of thought, but it’s not always functional. For your friends’ sakes, don’t always take shots without a flash or a decent amount of light. Color balance can help a low-light shot better than you think, but that takes time too.
The flash is a “fill” light. So if you have to use it, dumb it down. Pull a napkin over the flash or buy one of these. Learn to use a flash to help, not hinder the shot. It’s a tool, not a pestering idiot who will do anything to ruin your day.
I’ll work on a lighting post for another day. Is anyone even remotely interested in this?
In the meantime, here are a few of my recent shots.