Skip to main content

Flash Bus Tour comes to Dallas

Sorry if you tried to reach me yesterday and I wasn't my usual pretty responsive self. I spent the whole day attending the Flash Bus Tour seminar at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas.

There are lots of working photographers who do terrific things with flash. But there are a few guys who stand out not just for their work but for their teaching. If you're a working photographer, you probably know these names: David Hobby, a.k.a. The Strobist; Joe McNally, the renowned photographer for SI, National Geographic, Life and other mags and also the author of some great books, including The Hot Shoe Diaries; and I would add as a third, Neil van Niekerk, photographer, author and blogger. Hobby and McNally teamed up this spring to run the Flash Bus Tour, a series of one-day seminars on flash use, focused at intermediate and advanced photographers. It was terrific.

McNally and Hobby on stage at the Hilton Anatole, Dallas

The seminar was great because both Hobby and McNally are enthusiastic, energetic and effective speakers, but also because they complemented one another so very well.

Hobby is a terrific photographer but he's also a terrific teacher. I scribbled notes all during his morning presentation, in which he laid out very useful principles about lighting. He urges photographers to use their flashes in full manual and build the lighting for a scene in an orderly manner described by the acronym AFKA ("Aussies Find Kangaroos Attractive" was the mnemonic he offered us): first ambient, then fill (bit of a surprise there), then key, then accent. He then showed us a number of his finished photographs and explained them. If you've been reading Strobist.com for years, much of what Hobby said will be familiar, but he said it really well, and to be honest, I've always found the info at Strobist to be a bit disorganized. So getting it all in one morning was great. You can see some of Hobby's work on a website that is an ongoing project, hoco360.com (a not-quite-blog about Howard County, Maryland, here Hobby lives).

McNally at work on stage

McNally is not as organized and logical a teacher as Hobby, but he's a truly remarkable photographer. And I was very pleased that, instead of talking, McNally actually took camera and lights and models and went to work there on the stage. While we watched from the room, he set up lights, made decisions, changed his mind, all the while explaining what he was thinking and doing. And McNally approaches things differently from Hobby. While Hobby favors manual control of the flashes, McNally is a big believer in TTL, especially since this works so well with the Nikon flash system. My own process has always been pretty much the same as Hobby's, but I was impressed at how easily McNally was able to control three groups of lights from the single commander/controller flash mounted in his camera's hot shoe. Lights still have to be positioned by hand, of course, but once the lights are in place, the photographer can adjust lighting ratios without having to touch the lights. I liked that. The Sony flash system (what I use now) also supports this kind of control and for the first time, I find myself really wanting to give it a try.

All in all, it was a day very well spent.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Wireless control of Olympus OM-D E-M1 with OI.Share app

The Olympus Image Share or "OI.Share" app for smartphones allows you to do some very neat things with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera, like control focus, shutter and other settings, download photos to your phone, and geo-tag your photos. The only problem with this partnership between camera and phone — at least for me as a micro-four-thirds and Olympus novice — was getting it to work.

The documentation provided in the app and in the user manual for the camera is typically bad. I wrote this blog article from the notes I started making as I was trying to sort this out for myself. I hope I save somebody else an hour and some worry.

Ingredients To get started you'll need to have an EM-1 and a smart phone with the OI.Share app installed. I'm using an iPhone 5 running iOS 7 and version 2.1.1 of the OI.Share app. I downloaded the app from the App Store.

Addendum 7 January 2015: This article was first published a little over a year ago, in December 2013. I just went through the…

Why DxO Optics Pro 10 stays in my toolbox

You can read this post here, or read my reposted version over over at Medium.


I've used over a dozen apps in the last decade to convert my raw files and process my digital images. Today I rely on four main tools to process my images: Lightroom 5.7, the Nik suite of apps (now owned and published by Google), onOne Software's Perfect Photo Suite 9 — and DxO Optics Pro 10. I want to talk about Perfect Photo Suite some other time; it's my replacement for Photoshop and I really like it. But today, I want to say nice things about Optics Pro 10.

Might seem an odd thing to admit, but I don't really want to use Optics Pro. It can't hold a candle to Lightroom for browsing and managing images. And it doesn't support layers (like Perfect Photo Suite) or much in the way of selective editing (like Lightroom, Nik and Perfect Photo Suite do). I'm able to get what I want from most of my images using Lightroom, or Nik or Perfect Photo. So most of the time, I don't need Op…

Why I switched from Lightroom to Aperture

Read today an excellent article, "Why I use Aperture instead of Lightroom," by Mel Ashar; it's posted at the Aperture Expert blog edited by Joseph Linaschke. Ashar, a landscape and architectural photographer, provides a useful catalog of some of the reasons Aperture is a strong choice for photographers who use Macs. He focuses on the file-management advantages of Aperture that arise from the fact that Apple controls an entire file ecosystem, comprised not just of Aperture, but of iCloud and the file systems on both Macs and iOS devices (iPhone, iPad).

Now, notwithstanding the advantages Ashar enumerates, the consensus seems to be that, Aperture as a photo processing app lags way behind Lightroom. I disagree with the consensus. In fact, shortly after the public beta of Lightroom 5 became available, I started looking again at Aperture and this time I really gave it the old college try. To my surprise, I discovered that I liked it. I liked it a lot. So, instead of upgrading…