There is so much to learn about the world of photography, and there might be ten times as many photographers out there teaching about any given subject related to photography, it can be confusing at times to pick a book, a video, a workshop. I recently watched Jim Harmer's “Lighting In A Flash” video workshop and here is my review.
Photography is all about chasing the light. We bend it, we direct it, we focus it, we diffuse it and sometimes we soak it all in and capture the moment. Some photographers classify themselves as natural light photographers, while others may never leave a studio. Then there are people like me where we use whatever light we can, whether artificial or natural to create the shot.
Learning how to implement flash into your photography can be quite the task. There are books about the subject; there are books about certain genres of photography that cover the use of flash, and countless videos and workshops devoted to it.
Although I have messed around with flash, and more particularly, off camera flash in the past, I wanted to sit through a course about the topic to see what I could learn. I felt like even though I felt comfortable using off camera flash, I also realized that I was missing something and I needed help. Enter “Lighting In A Flash” video workshop by Jim Harmer.
ABOUT THE WORKSHOP
The video workshop is available through the Improve Photography website for $50 as a stand alone course, or if you are a member of Improve Photography Plus, this course is one of the many that is available.
Jim Harmer is the instructor. Jim is also the owner of Improve Photography. What drew me to the Improve Photography community carries over to this video workshop. Everything is laid back and Jim instructs in a way that does not fly over the head of most students. He explains everything in a way that is easily understood. Jim also includes real world exercises, not only from inside, but on location, outdoor exercises.
The workshop is broke down into four parts. The first par is just over 19 minutes long and Jim covers why a photographer should explore the world of off camera flash by using examples that he has provided. Jim then goes into an introduction to the gear needed by a photographer to enter this arena of photography. After a quick discussion about light, we are introduced to the first real world exercise.
The second part of the workshop comes in at just over 30 minutes long. After talking about flash function, Jim has the second real world exercise. Along the way throughout the whole series, we are shown an outline of the course that introduces us to what Jim is covering. The second part closes out with Jim covering triggers and camera settings.
The third part lasts for about 35 minutes and goes right into a real world exercise involving a dancer and some processing tips. This part of the workshop finishes up with Jim talking about light modifiers.
The fourth, and last part to the video workshop lasts just over 20 minutes. This part includes a section about flash location and then an on location shoot that involved several different elements to create great images.
SO DID I ACTUALLY LEARN LEARN ANYTHING?
Yes, I did. Even though I mentioned that I am familiar with off camera flash and have used it before, I felt that I was missing something. I recently had a shoot where the majority of the shots utilized off camera flash. I watched the workshop before that shoot and recognized that there were small mistakes that I was making previously. I was able to fix these mistakes and felt that my work has improved. The images I used from my portfolio for this article is a mix of “before” and “after” workshop images.
WHO IS THE COURSE FOR?
If you want an easy to understand, crash course in the use of flash, and off camera flash, this course is for you. Like I detailed above, the course is broken down into sections so you can take a break between sections.
This course is a great introduction to the world of off camera flash that allows the viewer to gain a very solid foundation to implement this technique into their work. It is also a great refresher for those of us that have used it in the past but it has been months since I last used it.
WHERE TO GET THE COURSE
After reading this, you may be sitting there asking yourself, “but don't I need hundreds of dollars to buy the gear needed?” In the immortal words of Gordon Solie, not so fast my friend. Here is a list that will help you get started.
Yongnou 460 II Flash $48.00
Yongnou 560 III Flash $63.94
Cactus V5 Flash Trigger 2 Pack $59.99
List of Yongnou Flash Triggers on Amazon
33″ White Umbrella $11.95
Light Stand $15.99
Neewer S-Type Bracket Holder with Bowens Mount for Speedlite Flash Snoot Softbox Beauty dish Reflector Umbrella $17.99
Generic Flash Bracket $4.71
So what you need as a bare minimum is a flash, a trigger, an umbrella, light stand, and a bracket to hold the flash. My current setup is the 460 II flash, the Cactus V5 Triggers, an umbrella, light stand and the Neewer bracket. At the writing of this article, my setup would cost me $137.93. You can save some money by going with the generic bracket. I have some of these and have used them and they are fine for what they are. Is it the best in the world? Nope, absolutely not, but this setup allows me a lot of flexibility when it comes to shooting.