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Kelby Tours, Hartford: Elex and Bleu

Sep 16

In Seminars & Workshops at 7:00am


Had a great time in Hartford yesterday, doing a Kelby Lighting Seminar. It’s fun, and a challenge, and a bit daunting, at least occasionally, to keep the ball bouncing and think up stuff to do when you’re shooting live in front of hundreds of folks. But, I lose myself in the process, and just try to have fun. On a big commercial shoot, there are often many people on the set with you, observing what you do, so I just figure on these outings, I’ve got a few hundred art directors in the audience, so it’s cool by me.

I make mistakes like crazy up there, but that doesn’t really faze me. For 25 years, at National Geographic, my editors there have seen every single frame I’ve shot, good, bad or indifferent. Every frame. It was true with film and is true now with digital. I don’t edit in the camera, I don’t tweak in post. Raw files out of the camera. Every picture, whether it’s a gem, or a giant steaming turd that might have just dropped out of a tall cow’s ass, goes to the building with the yellow border around it.

So at these seminars, every frame I shoot goes immediately to the screen. That’s one way to get naked really quick, but again, I enjoy the process of building a picture, and the audience tends to be right there with me, involved in the process. Yesterday, the folks in Hartford were great. Very patient and kind, even when I completely lost all sense of where I was and fell off the stage. Yep, that was a first. I was at the edge of the risers, pursuing a picture, and I just stepped out there on the air, which wasn’t smart. I felt like David Copperfield, minus the good looks and hot babes, doing one of those tricks where he just drops through a trap door. Oh, well, once a numnuts, always a numnuts.

The saving grace of yesterday, apart from my distracted antics, was working with two of the gentlest, most beautiful people I have ever worked with–Elex and Bleu.


They are a married couple who are wonderful in front of the camera, either singly, or together. (As I said onstage, I suspect their children are beautiful. Just a hunch.)


We experimented with decidedly big flash, up above, for the couples portraits. Those two images were made with the Elinchrom 74″ Octa, a truly wondrous light source. When you gotta go with one light, this is a good one to go with:-)

Elex, alone, is shot small flash. The main light is a Flashpoint beauty dish, and in the background are two raw SB900s. All TTL, hi speed sync at 1/4000 @f2. 200mm lens.

Below, we experimented lighting two surfaces, the subject and the background, with one small flash. The light is about 20′ away, camera left, and it is hitting the white background, ungoverned. In between the light and Bleu up front is a large Tri-grip diffuser, which steals some of the intensity of the flash and smooths it for a portrait. Hence the background snaps white and the foreground is lit nicely. One light, TTL. Fun to do.


More tk…..

58 Responses to “Kelby Tours, Hartford: Elex and Bleu”

fab says:

on September 27, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Great and Professional Work!

Terje Myller says:

on September 27, 2010 at 6:48 pm

A great post! Thanks! So inspirational to see the spectre of possibilities with only one flash, like in last photo. Who needs four?

Eddie says:

on September 30, 2010 at 11:30 pm

To anyone wondering if they should attend this Location Lighting Seminar…As a person who attended this with Joe it was by far the most inspirational thing I have done for my photography. I appreciated Joe’s skill and experience as he quickly corrected any lighting miscues but more than anything seeing a master work through those difficulties let me know I wasn’t alone in running into challenges! That I needed more than anything and walked away with a burning desire to shoot but most of all the confidence that I could even with my limited skills and gear. Wow! I just wish it was near me again, I would have taken it the next day!

John says:

on October 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm

lovely light in these images

Neil phootgrapher says:

on October 6, 2010 at 5:04 am

anther great post

Tomek says:

on October 13, 2010 at 8:59 am

Hello Joe,
thanks so much for finding the time in your busy schedule to do those seminars , as they’re bot interesting and inspirational, I must say.
I was wondering if I could ask you for a favor; because we ran out of time, you didn’t cover the “taking a group photo with a single flash” scenario.
I am extremely curious about your way of doing it, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Would you perhaps post a little of your know-how on the matter?

Much appreciated

Andy Domondon says:

on October 17, 2010 at 3:11 am

Very inspiring, thanks for sharing info on how small flash can do great images.

Andy D.

Lynwood Waffenschmidt says:

on March 17, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I figured every story and everybody needs a yang to their yin, right? :D

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