Sharpen the tools
On the Artist – Geek continuum I am closer to artisty-fartsy than I am to techno-nerd. My eyes gloss over when things get too technical. As a result, my weakness where this craft is concerned, is keeping my chops up and learning new skills. I’m big on vision and I talk ad nauseum about it, but craft matters and the sharper the tools of my craft the more equipped I am to serve that vision.
So when I saw that the Epson Print Academy was coming to Canada, I signed up for the Pro track and I’m pumped. There are two Canadian dates and they are: Toronto, March 21, so if you want to go, well, ya missed it. Vancouver, May 23rd. If you sign up in Vancouver and you want to get lunch together let me know, if we can get a handful of folks together I’ll reserve a table at Steamworks for lunch. More info – on the Print Academy, not lunch – HERE.
The other thing I’m doing to sharpen my tools is continue my study of light. Last year I really tucked in and began to study how light behaves, how it can be modified, and what that meant in terms of the aesthetics of the image. I made some forays into strobe and flash lighting, began to fiddle with Pocket Wizards more seriously. This year I am finally getting my act together. I’ve assembled a great location lighting kit, at the heart of which are 3 Canon Speedlights, 3 Pocket Wizard Flex TT5s and a MiniTT1. I’m going to be doing a couple little show and tell things in the coming month, but I want to say two things.
First, if you’ve not started to study light, you need to. It’s at the core of what we do and too many people neglect it. Took me 20 years to get to seriously studying it. That’s too long.There are some great books out there. Here’s a couple:
Second, the new Pocket Wizard system rocks. It is awesomeness x 1000 and I’ve double-checked the math on that. I can do wireless highspeed E-TTL flash. No more is the aesthetic of my image determined by the aperture required to get my shutter down under 1/200. And, the things I learn from Joe McNally’s teachings about flash, I can suddenly apply them in a way that makes sense to me. Being able to shoot at 1/6000 and f/1.2 and instantly adjust the flash EV compensation from right on the camera? Absolutely the most awesome thing ever. Some of you are rolling your eyes, but for me this is so awesome it makes me giggle like a schoolgirl and that ain’t pretty but it should give you some idea how excited I am. When the tools work right and just get out of the way, the work of being creative becomes so much more intuitive and the images get better. I love it when that happens. For more info go straight to the source and look them up HERE.
Two small things, steps to improve my craft in the direction that doesn’t normally come naturally to me. You gotta be proactive about your education in this craft. I suggest making sure you read a couple books, take a workshop, find a mentor. Got a piece of gear you don’t use ’cause it scares the heck out of you? Time to pick it up and play. Have a weakness when it comes to using a particular lens or technique? Time to slay that dragon and get on with making some great images.
What are you doing this year to sharpen the tools? Share it with us, it might just inspire someone to try something they hadn’t considered.
In Vancouver and want to sharpen your tools, leave a comment about that too, I’m thinking about starting a get-together for just such a thing. A loose collective of photographers who get together to play, experiment, sharpen the tools. Whaddya think?