Window Light, Bad Luck, Etc.

Hey… Long time no see… Etc, etc. You might have assumed I fell off the planet. Nope. Just a bit busy in late July and early August. A lot of that has been photography related and some of it not so much. I have made 3,000 or so pictures since last time I posted anything anywhere — some of that actually good. Apparently I have an hour or two that’s not committed this morning so I’ll drop a post of mixed thoughts here as an update, a few notes to myself for followup, and a preview of stuff to come.

First up the Window Light and Bad Luck part of the title. They sort of go together. One of the most popular workshops I host for fellow photographers happens to be what we over at Atomic Canary call The Window Light Mini. A two hour exploration of manipulating the way what appears to be a fixed set of lighting conditions looks. No modifiers, no lighting gear, nothing but a camera and a subject. That workshop happens to also be my favorite event to host.

Window Light

As it turns out, every single time I’ve hosted the Window Light Mini in 2014 it’s been wet, dreary, cloudy, dark, and miserable. Yes, we still made pictures. Yes I illustrated the big points in controlling direction, ratio, contrast, feel, etc in terms of extremely generic north light kind of circumstances. Too bad this is not my favorite set of circumstances to shoot or host that workshop in. I like what I consider a normal day. A day with blue sky, some clouds floating around, a bit of sun peeping through various windows at odd angles. Especially mid-day when that sun is “hard to use”. On a normal day there are infinitely more lighting possibilies in the same exact room as on a day where it’s all pretty much like north light.

I’m sorry, I am mistaken. There was that one time in 2014 I hosted the Window Light Mini on a normal day. I blocked that out. Due to a scheduling faux pas it was scheduled on frigging Mother’s Day. Oooops, guess how many people might just possibly have other commitments on that particular Sunday. Most normal people do. So… There was all of three people that showed up.

Something else happened that can be filed under the shit happens category of stuff that day. Anastasia (pictured at the top) missed her train. Had to call our good friend and totally awesome model Mary to kick the thing off. So instead of the Window Light Mini being what the title and two hour billing suggests it turned into more of a Window Light extrava-super-sized-ganza. Two gorgeous, fun to shoot subjects. Three or four hours with only three people taking all the time they wanted to make photographs. Exploration of refinement and details that are usually reserved for less basic workshops, etc, etc, etc.

The above blah blah blah will be the gist of a new Lighting Field Guide; Window Light II. I spoke with a few people regarding the content of the referenced workshop and unanimously they thought a short and to the point reference for the stuff I actually cover on a normal day with all the variables that happened to be there that day would be a great thing. The problem? That kind of hard to project onto an imagined reality. New approach, instead of prognosticating some prototypical normal day in some imagined average space I’ll just coalesce exactly what we covered in this odd Mother’s Day workshop. Instead of a workshop it will be a one hour read. By some quirk of fate I just happened to take the opportunity to jot down all the specifics in the form of napkin diagrams that day. Heck I’ll just throw those in for some illustration. The rest of it will be the 10 or 12 exposure starting point shots I made before letting the participants rip. I may even cover why my particular setup shot doesn’t work like it could — or should.

How’s that different than the first Window Light: A Field Guide? The first one was a case I went out of my way to project circumstances that can be had on any given day in any given abode. In fact I wrote it first and then shot it exactly as I wrote it. Sounds easy but is actually more challenging than you might think. I had to rid any shots that had what I considered non-generic lighting effects happening either because of mixed sun/sky, environment specific things, etc. Took me three outings instead of two hours. This is exactly opposite. I’ll cover very specific circumstances on that specific day in that specific space. I think the two will complement each other nicely. Maybe that bad luck thing is actually good luck. I would have never documented anything if we had a full house. The rest of the Window Light Mini workshop installments during 2014 covered exactly the kind of thing in the first eBook and that’s it. Not a bad thing but far different than the normal day and what I usually cover that’s very circumstantial. Stay tuned, Window Light: The Sequel, Back With A Vengence will be out shortly. All I have to do is cut it down from about four million words to somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000.

Okay, window light and bad luck covered. The etc. part — quick and dirty. I shot like crazy this summer. That’s not unusual for me but I’ve come to love two completely different picture taking devices to an equal degree. The first being The Nikon Df. No surprise there but the other one just might be, the itty-bitty Ricoh GR. My goto serious kit is the Nikon Df, a 50mm prime, and a 28mm prime. That’s it, the only time I take more stuff is for specific circumstances like needing a tight headshot, or using speedlights. One calls for adding one of two longer lenses to the kit. The other is one I use the D600 for. The GR is my carry around camera for everything else.

What’s a bit surprising to me with both of those cameras is that the more I shoot them the more I like working with both. Usually not the trend with me for digi-cams. Usually the more I shoot with a digital camera the more I find annoying. Both of them will get a semi-long term follow-up over the next week. Stay tuned for that, especially since I hate every other camera that doesn’t have a viewfinder I’ve ever used. The GR is an odd bird that’s actually won my heart — strange days.


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