the First Thing about Light: a workshop/playshop

Everyone now has a quite amazing camera of some kind with them at all times. That cellphone camera in your pocket is Smart! (in more ways than one). We use them to remember, and we use them to show what we’ve seen. Making an image that shows how we felt in a profound or fun moment depends on how we use the light.

This coming Saturday, November 30, I will lead a workshop designed to accomplish a couple of things:

A) Tapping into what you do know.

People make intelligent use of light often, already, but when it comes to making a photo, new camera users seem to have stored that ability in  every mental “compartment” but  photography.

B) “Love the Light You’re With”

Compounding that, there’s the notion that to lift a photograph above mediocrity requires “professional”,

photography-only lighting gear. Most of my best photos of  my cats, over the years, have been made with window light.

[pro-player repeat=’true’ autostart=’true’ type=’video’][/pro-player]


How does this workshop help you use lighting better?

(So glad you asked)

When you know what light does, and can see how it plays in the world around you, it’s MUCH easier to create the look you want with the lighting gear you have at hand, and to know what kind of gear you may want for transforming existing scenes with the light you envision.


Using studio lighting, I was able to create a softer kind of light, to help make the food look appetizing. How might different lighting have made it look more rustic? or romantic? or maybe even disgusting?
Using studio lighting, I was able to create a softer kind of light, to help make the food look appetizing. How might different lighting have made it look more rustic? or romantic? or maybe even disgusting?


Here, I used light for two different looks.On top, i wanted to highlight the catepillar-eaten seed pod, more than anything else.On bottom, I like the airy, floaty feel of blowing out the background, by overlighting the backdrop.



Becoming intimately familiar with light, the ideas occur to me more  readily, than they did when I was trying to “reason” my way to good lighting (i.e. without using my eyes and feelings).

My personal conclusion is that learning to see light and it’s character, qualities, possibilities put the “cart” of making the image appropriately behind the “steed” of inspiration and direct seeing.

As Always, Play On.

If  you’d like to take Your relationship with Light to the next level, contact me, or go to my Google+ Event

The day will begin at the Longview Center (also the home of Unity Church of the Triangle), in downtown Raleigh, NC. We will get grounded, together, on why we’re each drawn to use lighting better, and will include an experiential awareness process to remember what we know about light, to date.
Next, with a very specific assignment in mind, we’ll go out on a photowalk, and begin to blow open our seeing.
After a lunch pause, we’ll return to the classroom, for reviewing our images together. This is when much of the real growing begins.
Before adjourning, a one-on-one review will be scheduled for about a week later, to see how we’ve integrated our new relationship with our pictures has played, and take a moment to consider what’s next.

The course fee is $87. Seats are limited, but you can secure yours by pre-paying via, using my email address:



A Gathering of Beagles

A few months (really? that long? whew!) ago, a group of friends and peers, all photographers, from my old community met at the New Hanover County Library to do more than reminisce. Not that there wasn’t some bemoaning of “young know-it-all digital wanna-be’s” and the decline in prices once billable for what we offered in services; yet what was also present was a renewed sense of appreciation for each other and our contributions. More than once on our last day, I heard “I’m pleasantly surprised at how this gathering went, and I’m looking forward to next time.” What we will do with that opportunity does remain to be seen, but a recent posting on the Rangefinder magazine’s blog, AfterCapture, brought it all to mind, again.

Here’s a line from that blog, by Ethan Salwen, to tease you:

“The majority of photographers I interview are between 45 and 55, and they possess a depth that younger photographers do not. Yes, there’s something wonderful about the raw energy of the younger photographers I meet. It’s just that this energy might fizzle…”

I posted the link to the Facebook page of a group of photographers here in Raleigh, NC,  RPG (Raleigh Photography Group), and was rewarded by a message of appreciation. I felt compelled to respond, thusly:

As “wise” as we are, we do forget our own gifts, but most especially when we are facing so much change, around us.

selfie, using an android app



Somehow, I think the trick may be to be Willing to change, And to keep true to what gifts we carry.
I think the day and the future are “right” to challenge us, so we don’t give too much credence to the husk of what we’ve made up about life, and so that we Do remember to stay present, conscious, curious, and grateful… therefore, growing.
Those who are making the day/future would also do well to listen and evaluate what we old-timers have to say, too. Neither is All right.. each has a piece of it. Only by taking heart and connecting with each other can we keep what is true alive and vibrant, I think.
Making new images doesn’t hurt, either, eh?
One re-minder that comes to me, occasionally, goes something like this: “you are most who you are when you are in the Turn from one endeavor to the next”.

(I’d love to attribute that paraphrase to whoever said what I’m paraphrasing, so if anyone knows where that came from, a comment would be welcome.)

OK, so Try This On

Lighting 001: a “class”.

Some feedback I’m getting on a recent project has moved me to make one of the key results available to others, so that you can take your photography to a next level. Your price?: Whatever you put into the followup “assignment”. I’ll also ask only that, should you have feedback or meaningful results, I’d really like to hear about it, either in comments on this post, or via email or links to images you’ve made out of implementing this little Audio/Visual combo.

Part, the First:

Guided Imagery has become a powerful and effective tool in all sorts of endeavors where enhanced results are desired. Athletes and executives are using them to become more effective;  in healthcare fields healing is given a boost. I began using the idea in teaching lighting, years ago. While I cannot measure the results, those who have taken advantage of the recording I’m posting here are saying that they are experiencing light in new ways and it’s showing up in their new images.

This application of guided imagery (also called guided meditation) is, maybe, a little different. Instead of imagining making the perfect golf stroke or creating fat round red blood cells, this will be a journey to the part of yourself that knows more about light and lighting than you may already consciously command. We are:

A) certainly seeing and manipulating light in our homes, and other places,

B) while sometimes thinking that we need to know dedicated photographic lighting techniques before we can begin to master light in our pictures.

My “come from”, in making this guided imagery, is that we access the intuitive and/or semi-conscious awareness we already have of light, and with the second of this pair of tools, have that awareness show up in our photos. Only with a conscious awareness of light.. really seeing it, if you will.. are we empowered to use the gear effectively. Formulae and “how to” videos are great tools, no question about that; this is an attempt to engage one’s imagination, and eyes (both inner and outer) before one’s technique. With awareness, practice, and good old fashioned paying attention, we will see lighting well using continuous lighting sources, yes, but also previsualize the lighting we want. That way, when using strobist-style lighting, we already have a clue where to start. Another benefit may be that you can begin to create lighting that isn’t naturally there without so much experimentation, first.

Here’s an audio file of the Guided Imagery

Part Too:

Here’s the Assignment (learned, originally, from a pivotal photography teacher for me, Sean Kernan)

Make photographs, where light is the subject of the photograph.

Shoot at least a card full of pictures in a session, so that you are not giving yourself time to overthink it. Avoid previsualizing ideas, or judging the opportunities as they come to you while you’re out shooting with the assignment in mind.  Find and react to light, and take its picture. One of the first thoughts that come to the minds of many is “isn’t Any photograph about light?”. Well, technically, maybe 98% (excluding x-rays, sonograms, etc) are about light, yeah. In this case, however, let your inner papparazzi treat light, itself, as the Star, instead of as Best Supporting Role.