A Visit from the Masters of Light

I was lucky enough to attend the flashbus boston stop recently. An amazing flash extravaganza, starting slowly with David ‘The Strobist’ Hobby and building to a crescendo with a live demo in the afternoon from the Dean of Flash Joe McNally.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or for that matter why I was even going – I rarely take photos of ‘people’ and when I do I’m not fluent enough with flashes to incorporate them into the mix. I’ve actually given presentations in the Long Wharf Marriott conference rooms but to a crowd smaller than the 250+ that were there to see Hobby and McNally perform. It was fun to have an opportunity to interact with Hobby before the event began – he worked the line of photographers laden down with all the gear they own as they waited to get the Adorama event band and associated goodie bag.

Hobby’s presentation was a walk through of a series of images to show how he builds ‘Layers of Light’ to get the look that he wants for a particular photo. I must admit that it actually made sense and seemed quite a logical approach to getting the photo.

I’d seen McNally up close a while ago now at the Acadia DLWS in 2007 that was just before the moment it clicks came out and his star as an educator began to rise.  Then he did a couple of on location small flash lighting demos that were quite impressive. In the Marriott ballroom he started quite simply with one light building to a finale photographing Bruce (an audience member) with 4 lights including a gridded snoot for Bruce’s impressive beard.

The day really was a firehose of information and someone more practical than I would probably be able to put it to good use. I feel like I need some further study. Fortunately both Hobby and McNally have supporting DVDs.  I have McNally’s and certainly recommend it (check out a clip here) and I suspect that Hobby’s 7 disc set would be well worth the money.

I think Zack Arias‘s one lighting workshops are also worth checking out. There are a couple of places to get these – the live workshop, the One Light DVD, and the CreativeLive workshop. Zack starts more basic than Hobby and his teaching style resonates with me more than Hobby and McNally. For me the progression should be Arias, Hobby, McNally although they all have something to offer for everyone.