I was made aware of this course following an e-mail sent to our camera club.
I am a keen photographer and take pictures of most subjects (landscapes, architecture and wildlife) but my main passion is portraiture and particularly babies and children (I have two young grandchildren).
I own two speed lights and do use them but due to my lack of knowledge, the results were always wildly unpredictable. In order to produce fairly consistent results, I purchased a pair of continuous lights with soft boxes. Whilst these allowed me to instantly see the results, the low intensity of light meant that I was always using very high ISO settings, wide apertures and moderate shutter speeds and consequently, the overall quality of my images suffered as a result.
The learning I have gained over the duration of this course has been a real “lightbulb” experience for me. I now understand that lighting is critical to an image and you can achieve completely different moods and feeling with the same subject just by changing the lighting. I can also see that when you look at professional photographs, the overall lighting has usually been very carefully considered and thought through (even when using ambient light). I have realised how important it is to ensure the two-dimensional pictures retain the three-dimensional “feel” through the effective use of lighting.
During the course, I have learnt to use studio flash and how the different light modifiers (soft boxes, snoots, spill kills, beauty dishes and ring lights) allow you to sculpt the light to achieve exactly the results you want. We learnt that it is possible to achieve almost limitless backgrounds using simple black or white backgrounds and supplementing lighting and placing the subject closer or further away from the background.
The course taught the importance of choosing the correct combination of aperture (to define the depth of field), shutter speed ( to define if objects should be frozen, sharp or blurred) and ISO (the light sensitivity of the sensor or film) which can be set either up or down to achieve the required aperture/shutter speed combination or alternatively can be used creatively for example to add grain into the image.
Handling the equipment has been a great experience and I am confident in setting them up, taking them down and the care and health & safety requirements.
Given my newly acquired knowledge, I recently setup my speed lights at home and quickly produced differing lighting setups. I was very happy with the resulting images and the lighting was immeasurably better than my previous efforts.
I now also look very carefully at other photographers work in magazines, books and on-line and constantly try to de-construct the lighting setups to further my knowledge and understanding of the subject.
I have enjoyed the course and if I can re- arrange my working hours again (I work in the City and don’t finish work until 17:30) I want to further my knowledge by enrolling for the level 2 course in September.
Finally, I want to thank Lee who has been a great tutor throughout this course. The level of photographic knowledge has varied considerably between the students on this course but he has always tried to ensure that none of the students get left behind.