Just now in Ajax.

So I just taught part three of a flash course in Ajax, Ontario.

In an excellent day, Ajax Photography Club creative Director Ron Pereux had arranged five of these:


Yup, brides!

And with very simple equipment we did some fun, creative shots using gels, snoots, softboxes (the excellent Honlphoto gear – use checkout code “Willems” for 10% off), umbrellas, and grids.

Some of the work needs some post-finishing when conditions are not right. Look at the backdrop:


And look at the finished product. Yup, a slightly more traditional photo:


And a more edgy photo, the type young brides are more likely to love, full of feeling:


Or even edgier:


Shooting brides is fun, and today I was able to help the Ajax club with a lot of very practical easy to put into practice tips and techniques. Flash photography is so easy once you know it, and so rewarding once you know how to do it well. Take a course – if not from me (http://learning.photography), then from someone else who knows his or her business!


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!


85mm f/1.2 all the way

One of my favourite lenses is the Canon 85mm f/1.2 lens. 

A prime lens forces you to think about composition. It also allows you to blur backgrounds beautifully. And to shoot in low light. It is also consistent: prime means “set up one shots and all similar shots are the same w.r.t. things like depth of field and tolerance of motion blur”.

85 is a short telephoto lens, which is great for portraits. You can get close without getting too close, and you need no great big spaces. Perfect length.


You can make images with extremely shallow depth of field. Especially when you choose to get close:


This lens is great for outdoors portraits, but also indoors.

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You get a typical compressed telephoto look—without it being extreme.


The 85mm f/1.2 is sharp, very sharp.

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It is very sharp, with beautiful bokeh, and the manual focus mechanism, being electronic, is the smoothest I have used, ever. Yes, it autofocuses also.

This is my favourite lens now, I am safe in saying. For many purposes: not just portraits. More later.


PS I am doing a studio lighting workshop tomorrow, Sunday 1 May. Just saying. I need signups to go ahead, but not many—it is limited to 4 participants.


Learning Flash: Two New Opportunities

A good knowledge of flash lighting is the key to artistic and other professional photography. Good news: I have two new opportunities for Flash learning!

Outdoors flash: essential for artistic photos

Both of these hands-on courses will be held in (or as the case may be, outside of) my Brantford studio.

Sunday May 1, 11AM: Studio Shooting

Sunday May 22, 11AM: Mastering Outdoors Flash

Both have limited availability: 4 and 7 students maximum, respectively. So sign up, and meet you in Brantford, 20 minutes west of Hamilton.

Raw facts

..and another reason to shoot RAW: several functions in Adobe Lightroom do not work, or do not work consistently, when you shoot JPG pictures.

These include

  • Generating  the XML files that optionally copy the information separately for each picture in the catalog;
  • Profile corrections in Lens Corrections.

There’s probably more. So if you needed more reasons to shoot RAW, there you go.

On another note: how many flashes do you need for creative flash photos?

One. Like here. A speedlight with a Honlphoto honeycomb grid attached to it.


Or two:


And there you go!