Workshop and then some

So tonight I did a great workshop in North Toronto. Great because the six participants were very enthusiastic and they really, really got it.  That’s how it goes when you:

  1. Hear it a second or third time
  2. Practice it yourself rather than just listen.

And that is what tonight was about.

You can have a lot of fun with one flash. In this case, one flash with a grid. Off-camera and fired with Pocketwizards.


Two flashes, one with an umbrella on me, and one with a chocolate Honlphoto gel on the background, gives us yours sincerely:20160505-1DX_8145-1024

You like that? Then learn some flash techniques from me, any time. It’s all just technique, as Peter West once told me. True say!


Uh oh

You hear me say it so may times: redundancy. Spares. Backups.

Yesterday I taught a course in Ajax. Flash, advanced. A “Dutch Master Class” seminar and workshop.

Here’s a few photos:





Outside is even more fun:


So I say “A few”. Why, these are in fact the only few I captured.

My assistant packed the bags, due to my tennis elbow. And guess what? She forgot the cameras. All I got was an old 7D.

And guess what day the 7D chose to completely fail?

Yup. Yesterday. Dead. Removing battery, lens, flash, and memory card made no difference. Removing the little 3V memory battery did, but then it failed again each time after one shot.

And that is why you pay for a photographer with plenty of spares and backups. Just saying!




Portraiture is one of the most rewarding types of photography, why? For a few reasons. One, people mean more to us than things. Two, its ability for a picture to tell a thousand words, to be subtle, to infer. It does that more, in my opinion, than macro, landscapes, or most other types of photography. Stones and trees are stones and trees. Nothing against them. But people are more expressive. The human face has more muscles, more ways of expression mood, than anything else in the known universe. That’s why.

Like here:


Or like this:


Or this:


Or these:




Can you name all the moods in those pictures?

And in a technical sense, can you see how I used monochrome to reduce the images to the essence? And how, in the last three, I use selective depth of field to emphasize my subject? Those were all made at around f/1.4 using an 85mm prime lens. If you want to be a portrait photographer, I recommend you get a fast (low f-number) prime (fixed) lens. Nothing like it!

  • Shoot: Feb 13/14, 2016
  • Model: Kim Gorenko
  • Make-Up: Janice West
  • Photo: Michael Willems

Night time.

It’s early night, here in Brantford, Ontario.


The full moon pretty much guarantees that the local police will have a busy night. And I am taking a snapshot on my way from the convenience store to my home. The moon needs “Sunny Sixteen” (search for it here). Meaning it is as bright as earth at noon on a sunny day.

So getting them together is impossible. And when you want to get a photo like the one above, your best bet is to slightly over-expose the moon, so that you can get at least some light into the dark part of the picture.

Why don’t you go outside right now to take a few snaps?

Size Matters

Focal length, that is; i.e. size of your lens. For example, when doing portraits.

General rule for headshots: the longer the lens, the better.

But it is not the lens that does the magic. It is your proximity to the subject.

With a short lens, like a 50mm, you need to be close to the subject. That causes some distortion; the closer, the more.

With a 200mm lens, however, you can be far, leading to a much more neutral, less distorted view:

See the difference? And that is viible on real faxes, too:

…and that is why my 70-200 lens is my favourite portrait lens. Provided I have enough space.

And that is where the second advantage comes in: being farther away, you are perceived as less “threatening” by your subjects. Meaning less awkwardness.