Sunday Strobes and Smiles

Greetings friends, 

The month of March marched into our life, signifying the end of the first quarter. But the year still has long way to go, with everyday is an opportunity to learn something new that will make a change. For me, it took my time to learn a new set of skills in photography. It was a warm Sunday morning at Padungan area of Kuching with fellow photographers from Kuching area at Great Wall Photo. Since this is a masterclass, the participants are limited to 8 peoples only to ensure that the learnings are well-delivered and so that everyone has the opportunity to learn. Few of those are Alvine of Mambu Bauh Photography, Lipina (EOS R lady), Michael of D’Moments, Fidelis of Mata Kucing, Ben Foo and Pauline Pui, with one of Kuching’s best – Edwin Lay as the instructor.


The session started with introductory words from Edwin about flash photography and their functions. Essentially, there are two main types of light producers, which is the speedlights and strobes. If you want more power, get studio strobes. But this beast is not cheap, it can easily fetch more than RM500. The higher-end brands like Broncolor and Profoto can easily reach thousands, but these are made for professionals. For beginners, it is a safe and economical bet to start with Godox.

Edwin the Sifu, with Ben as the Model.
Lipina is getting first-hand lesson from Edwin.

Edwin then move on to explain about the types of lights used in studio or in flash photography, starting with the most important of it all, the main light, or the key light. Then it is supplemented with fill light, head light and kicker light. These terms are used to decribe the types of lights and the effects that it has to the final images.

Once we have the light, then we need to move on to the movement of light, or as what my SMKT Physics teacher used to say, the propagation of light, which refers to the manner in which the electromagnetic wave transfer it’s energy from one point to another. In this case, from flash to the subject, or model. The moment flash is lighted up, three processes occurs – transmission, reflection and refraction. If the refractivity index of the medium is similar, then there would be no refraction observed. However, this effect can be used for some creative photography, which I might explore in the future.

Studio Strobes 101:

For flash photography, the one that we need to control is the transmission (the power of the flash/strobe) and the reflection. The reflection bit is the one that is indeed a lifelong learning. To make sure that we get the desired effect, this is the part where Edwin taught and gave demonstration on how to used these unique light modifiers. We are very lucky because we managed to experience this using Profoto light modifiers. Its build quality really shines though, and it feels solid. A bit more on the theory, we learned about the camera setting, selecting the effective ISO, shutter speed and the right aparture. From there, we learn about the placement of the strobes and we went on playing around with the controller and did some modelling for the rest of the team. The most lively member, Pauline offers to be the first model. Her cheerfulness really shines through. Michael also posed for the photos, which I managed to take. The first session was done indoor using the strobes, and the subsequent session was done outside with professional model, Adeline.

My Comfort Zone – Natural Light

I love these bokeh. Anyone?

For me, this is a new experience because being an M photographer, I am so used to work with available lights in my paid works, be it weddings, dinners, birthdays, outdoor modellings or even street photography. Even my lens selection and camera selection reflects the need for my niche, the ability to shoot any events using my Leicas (currently still using M9-P during leisure shoots and M10 for some serious photography needs). For day time, I will be using my Summicron and for night time, I will be switching to the Beast of the Night, Noctilux. Those combinations are the ones that created my images and it is more about the joy in shooting, the feeling that you get your focus in your “messucher” or rangefinder in German. Doing hyperfocal shoots and sometimes crazy bokeh is the secret ingredient of the M-shooters life. And yes Ben, it is fully manual – from its ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Manual all the way. The best part about shooting in this manner is that everyday is an exciting day. You will never know what you will get. This is also the reminds me to the exciting days that I has last year when I attended Thorsten’s photography masterclass – first-hand experience of becoming a Leica photographer.

Happy Leled.
Happy evening.
Dayung Timengen masu Kpg Taee (Kambut nyeken ganan neh).

Stepping Out The Comfort Zone:

For flash photography, it is a different story. You are in complete control. Quoting Edwin Lay, if you can master around 50 to 60% of the content, you can go to any studios around the world and you will always get that consistent result, a mind blowing result. That is the beauty of the flash photography. I started to enjoy flash photography. I admit that this field is a new playing ground for me (pardon my half-cooked flash photos), but with the right guidances, tools and lots of practices, it holds an interesting future.

In the end, do what you love, and love what you do. Have a good day ahead! 🙂

Do Not Undervalue Yourself

This is an interesting topic that we had during our photographer’s lunch at Feast and Furious. Ben brought up this topic and he shared his side of story on managing clients. That reminds me my own share of experience as well, where the common argument is that I am charging much higher than other photographers. For info, we, photographers in general are not only charging for the short session that we have with you and your event, but also the countless hours that we spent behind the scene, before the computer screen just to get your final images correct and beautiful. Not to mention the equipment maintenance fees, transportation, bills, helpers (if there is any) as well as the trainings that we have to attend just to keep ourselves sharp and relevant to the business. Therefore, if a photographer charges you a tiny amount of just RM300 for the entire event, he is actually shooting himself in his foot and will damage his reputation, morale and economics. It is what we always call – “kacau market” (distrupting the market).

For info, reasonable charge of a photographer is RM2500 and above per wedding job, if he really want to make a living out of it and after taking into consideration of all of his charges. However, if you already made a promise onto anything lower than that, do honour your words because your reputation also depends on your words.

Most importantly, enjoy! We live in the golden age of photography, where the innovation never seems to stop. who knows what comes next? A tin-can sized 500W strobe?

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