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The fab CoriLee dolls up for our Film Noir shoot.

The fab CoriLee dolls up for our Film Noir shoot.

This weekend will be a weekend I won’t forget for a long time.

But we have to back up a few months to put this in context. There was twitter and all things were good. Then twitter started having problems and a bunch of other services started up. One such service is Plurk. Plurk is like twitter but its more conversational and you can develop friendships on Plurk much like you can on Flickr.

About 6 months ago, I met Susan, who is @ttpus here on Flickr. Much like any other internet relation, it takes time to build up trust. @ttpus is a photographer who shoots a lot of baby and senior portraits and some weddings, mostly natural light.

In June, she planned to shoot her own daughter’s wedding but a week before hand she decided that she would rather have someone else shoot the wedding. She took a chance on someone she knew in 140 character chunks and flew me to Iowa to photograph the wedding.

While there, we talked a lot of shop and she was interested in getting into working with models, perhaps setup a home studio, but she would need to learn lighting.

We continued to talk about this after the wedding and she decided now was the time to move forward with this part of her photography. Using frequent flier miles she and her husband picked a weekend to come to Raleigh for me to teach her.

She’s a Canon owner (5D + 40D and 2 580EX II speedlites) and she knew she needed some real studio gear. A couple of weeks prior to her visit, we talked about what she needed. She ordered the studio gear and had it shipped to me, so I could make sure I knew it before she arrived.

A couple of days later, two hot pink Alien Bee 800’s along with light stands, umbrellas and a big 5′ x 3′ softbox showed up. Having had Monolights before, the AB800’s were a piece of cake to use. For what its worth, the light from them are just awesome. She also picked up a pair of pocket wizards and enough parts that she could also use her 580EX II’s off camera much like we do in our strobist setups (small shoot through white umbrella, light weight stand, etc)

To make her trip worthwhile, I booked a couple of models. I thought “Film Noir” would be a great introduction to lighting and booked the wonderful CoriLee as our model along with Jessica Dunn to do the makeup. This shoot would tie us up from 12-5 on Sunday.

For Saturday, we added in an urban street shoot to get her experience with the 580’s off camera and booked Laurie Lu to shot in the warehouse district in Raleigh.

Somewhere along the way I got the bright idea, since she shoots a lot of babies to find a six month old to give a free sitting too while she worked with her studio lights. My next door neighbor has a 5 month old, the timing was good, so we had our baby model which we shot prior to the Sunday session, now making that an 11am to 5pm shoot.

It got even better. My day job was needing a product shot with a hand model so I picked the item up Thursday since I took Friday off to work with Susan. Since these shots are going to run in ads, I was able to score “Tear Sheets” for everyone involved.

I needed a big softbox for the product shoot so the timing was perfect.

Friday arrived and my guests arrived around 1pm. After a brief lunch, we came back to the house and she and her husband got the Studio Lighting 101 class. They learned how to setup and break down the Alien Bee’s. How to use the pocket wizards. We discovered a bad hot shoe on her 40D which explained why she was having trouble getting her 580’s to work on that camera. Using hubby as a model she learned how to use her hand held meter to get the right exposure.

Saturday, we hung out in the morning and talked for a while before my wife and I introduced them to the wonderful cuisine known as “Clyde Coopers BBQ”. We drove around where we would be shooting to give her an idea of the scenery.

Both nights after shooting we downloaded her cards and analyzed her work. It was a great weekend, but afterward we were all quite beat. They arrived back in Iowa this morning and her Alien Bee’s are en-route to meet her in a few days.

I will miss my time with them.

For me it was a great time to give back and share what I’ve learned over the years. I hope she has great success with her plans.

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4 Comments

  1. Aug 11th 7:58pm

    Rob. I am speechless. What a great write up on our time together! I canNOT thank you and Sherry enough for your hospitality, warmth, knowledge, PATIENCE!!!, company and TIME!!!
    But, I will try. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts.
    I feel as if our joint leap of faith of each other has created a life long friendship that shall be cherished by me and I count my blessings for it.

    As a post note, when I got home, I tried in earnest to get Adobe Photoshop CS4 and Lightroom 2 uploaded – more problems – more help from Rob.

    Moral of the story?
    – Trust can be a very good thing.

  2. Dave
    Aug 11th 8:42pm

    Rob. A whirlwind of a weekend . . a magical time . . the beginning of a great friendship . . much learning . . incredible experiences . . great food . . I’m in awe of your talents . . I’m in awe of my wife’s talents . . watching the two of you work was truly amazing. There are no words to thank you enough for your giving during the weekend and continuing today!

  3. Aug 11th 9:33pm

    Rob,
    You are the man 🙂 Good job I always enjoy your posts on photography and photoshop. I just wish I had more time to work on my off camera lighting and photography in general. Maybe with Jbo in Atlanta I might have more time. Some day.

    -S

  4. Aug 11th 10:08pm

    I got a good education in the Canon EOS lighting system this weekend.

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