Friday, April 27, 2012

Let There Be Light

     By the time I bought my DSLR, I told myself to stay away from portrait photography.  It's one of the most intimidating fields that requires a lot of gears, a lot of learning, and a lot lot more, in my opinion.  Being a beginner, I just thought I'd get to that much much later, when I earned enough experience in other fields.

     But I'm always jealous of what others photographers come up with.  I'm jealous of those people shots getting a lot more attention.  In forums, it's shots of people that get discussed often.  Be it a studio portrait shot, a typical outdoor one, wedding photography, or whatever that involves taking pictures that highlights a person.  They always get some hefty discussions.

     I also realized that portrait is the real money-making field in photography.  No matter how good I'll become, not many people will pay me to take pictures of scenery or landscapes.  Too many people compete to work for a newspaper, and pushing my pictures to be shown on a magazine is just plain luck.  Portrait, however, especially studio shoots, can stand alone.  I remember back in my hometown that many, including me, pay to get some 3 posed shots in a studio.  So I think if ever I want to get some money back from my expenses, I'd be best learning/mastering portrait photography... and that is a scary thought.

     The most dominant thing that photographers talk about is lighting.  I don't understand much about it, being intimidated, I avoided those topics.  I have some knowledge about the lighting of the sky, the sun, the street lights, and what not.  But when they start talking about strobes/flash, I'm lost.  I did a couple of reading here and there but I stop before getting to the middle of the "lighting" part.  Why?  Because most (if not all) of them talk about flash.  Not just flash.  But expensive, multiple, and ranged flash equipment.  Then add reflectors, soft boxes, grids, pocket wizards, light stands, umbrellas, and other equipment that involves lighting.  Then comes the key light, high light, background light, catch light, fill flash, and other types of light applied.  These and many more only to get that ONE single portrait shot.

     The thought of buying a Canon 580 EX alone makes me cringe.  I've been out of budget since I bought my camera.  Or even before that.  Then came the lenses and accessories I haven't mentioned.  And now a flash?  So I went to a photography forum asking for guidance.  As I feared, they started talking about TTL and ETTL and all that stuff that confuses me.  Fortunately, one of the photographers I admire gave me a practical advice.  "Get a manual flash and learn from it."  Once again, I'm glad he mentioned "manual."  I assume it's cheap and I'm having fun with my manual lenses.  Might as well go with manual flash.

     So I searched online and found a unit that's dirt-cheap compared to the new (or even older) Canon speedlights.  Horus Bennu GODOX TT560.  From a potential $500 down to $60 is indeed a bargain.  But am I getting myself into trouble?  It's cheap when comparing it to others.  But $60 is not something you pick up on the street.  I hesitated at first but I thought, "Nothing will take me forward than trying."  So I bought one.

This video is Korean but it talks about using the flash unit.  One of the videos that convinced me to buy one with confidence.

     The flash unit arrived without a manual.  So I tinkered and tested and got to know a little about how it works.  But how it works with my camera is another story.

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