I have written more than a few times about the joy I personally get in occasionally but regularly shooting film with a simple and direct camera such as a Nikon FM, or FE, or similar ilk. It's a self-reset or reboot of sorts that pushes all of the irrelevant complexity out of the way and just let's me focus on the most important thing - what's in front of my camera. I've also expressed my love of using a simple available anywhere to everyone window as the sole lighting instrument.
These two things - a simple camera with a low fixed number of exposures that you cannot see the results until later and the use of the most common source of ambient light have a connection. In a lot of ways they provide a similar reboot for me. I wrote the window light field guide as my take on a completely gear free approach to lighting. It might not be optimal for every situation for sure but leaving the strobes, and softboxes, snoots, dishes, grids, brollies, radio triggers, and the rest of the paraphernalia behind certainly causes you to think a little differently than having all that crap at your disposal. It forces someone that's been known to use 15 lights to get back to the essence of light.
Doing this sort of thing in a location you are not familiar with is also pretty healthy. It forces you out of your default patterns. Even people that use windows all the time, even in creative ways, tend to fall into the same usage patterns in the same rooms. Not a bad thing for sure if you need a re-fined predictability to produce results on demand. Not so good for exercise of your creative brain and won't usually take you anywhere different than you've been.
Over at AtomicCanary we are starting to roll out a few beta-events. One of these will be the Window Light Mini a 2 hour quick-hit hands-on mini-workshop focused on creative use of just a window in a particular environment. The main points are that any given window in any given room is absolutely not a one trick pony. There are many diverse ways to choose to use that light. The secondary point is that all light works the same and manipulating it's behavior from a photographic point of view is the same at a core level - it doesn't require purpose built gear - nor fancy technical controls.
We hope to host this mini-workshop along with a few others on a regular basis in a few different locations in the mid-atlantic area starting with some convenient locations in Maryland. I personally hope to make it relevant to those just starting to look at photographic lighting with intent as well as old-hands. While the land of the virtual experience is great for what it is, there's nothing like a hands-on experience with a group of people that share the same passion to make pictures.
If you happen to be near-by or traveling through I invite you to come out as soon as these get fired up starting in December 2013. Maybe to take a way just a couple of new ideas, do a photo-lighting reset for yourself, share your own views, or just to spend some dedicated time behind the camera having fun with like-minded people.
In preparing a couple of illustrations for the Window Light Mini, I was going through a bunch of images I made specifically for the ebook - you know the ones, unmolested in terms of post processing effects or local adjustments etc. There are hundreds I chose not to use because they didn't illustrate something that I thought was important or more likely other effects crept in that would be a little hard to reproduce without my discussion on the topic because I was there and I took the picture. That's one of the huge things that happens in a live in-person event vs. an ebook, a video, etc. You take in or get asides on about ten times the number of things that contribute to any given photographic scenario than could be articulated in writing or in a spoken monologue. It's just impossible to fully describe anything completely in a finite fixed set of words.
Things that are obvious and skipped over or left out may be of no consequence to one person but may be of critical import to another. Hands-on is so very different. You get to talk about the things that are on your mind and even if you don't there will absolutely be things you see and perceive and experience that you couldn't do with just a read on the topic. There's nothing like actually doing it, especially in a group of people that are also doing it - you get a massive dose of diverse thought process.
With that in mind - we over at Atomic Canary are going to have different workshop leaders covering the same mini-workshops. The content will be identical on the surface but I am sure each leader will have a different take on it. We also are in the process of arranging guest leaders for more intensive experiences - one and two day events. Our mantra is to have people that inspire us there. Not just educational events though, a well-rounded set of events and experiences for photographic and visual artists. Some growth oriented, some just fun, and others to celebrate and share each other's work in the form of mini-shows.