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In this installment of the Lighting with Flash series, photographer and Strobist publisher David Hobby visits a conservation center to photograph subjects small and large, demonstrating flash lighting techniques along the way. The course begins with a close-up shoot of a small frog—and with details on how to light close-ups and macros using a small softbox and a reflector made of crumpled aluminum foil. Next, David uses multiple strobes and umbrellas to transform a dark blacksmith shop into a warm backdrop for a portrait of a craftsman at work. In a bonus chapter, David discusses an approach for organizing photo meet-ups that have a purpose: leveraging the talents of multiple photographers to quickly create a set of photos for a worthy organization.
David: So, one of the things that has come from (INAUDIBLE) over the last few years is the idea of a social meetup wrapped around photography. And these things are really cool in theory. But in practice, they start to get into repetition and what do we shoot next. And hey, I know a cool warehouse and let's find a model from model (MUSIC) Mayhem or whatever. And that's really neat the first two or three times you do it maybe, but it starts to get to be completely hollow after that, we're you're just left with the same pictures and maybe the beer. So, what we're starting to do and at least in Howard County, anyway, and, and Maryland, is to organize people around a significant event.
Something (MUSIC) that you can produce pictures that will be of value to an organization. And that's what led us here to the Howard County Conservancy. Allison: The Howard County Conservancy is a land trust started in 1990, it has expanded to also be an environmental education center. And we host field trips for school groups, we have various history programs here. we have a property with 232 acres, that is under conservation easement, was donated from the Brown family who lived on this property for eight generations.
David: In this case, we got together fifteen photographers on pretty short notice. there was pizza involved for lunch, but other than that, everyone's volunteering their time. And what we did was to work together, work on our assignment list with the help of Alison, and create in one day a really impressive body of work. I got here before sunrise and there were already seven cars in the parking log. So, that speaks to the enthusiasm who actually may be working today, but got here before their work when the light was gorgeous to get out and make pictures. In 30-degree weather.
So Alison was our liaison with the site. She produced a list, in order, a prioritized list, which is important, because you don't want to be scatter-shot of their picture needs. And those were physical subjects, and they were semantic needs. And she also took the same to write down the, (MUSIC) the motto and the feeling that, what it is that this place does. So we all understood that going in. We took the, we took the list, and from that list, we created a fairly even balance of assignments. And then throughout the day, when people would come back with their specific pictures, we would plug those into the spots, see where we were weak, see where we needed to go back. By midway through the afternoon, we had everything covered that we wanted to have covered.
And people were just out looking to make pictures that were of interest to them, and were pictures you might not expect. Just send out a photographer for the wide-angle lens and see what comes back. So I shot from before sunrise til after sunrise, but as soon as the group started shooting, my role shifted to picture editor. And what I'm primarily concerned with is is getting coverage everywhere and then going out and try to make that coverage better. Which is to say filling in the weak links and then aiming for the fences. Non threatening is a big part and we certainly had a wide range of experience levels and skills here. What you would see.
You would see people loaning each other equipment. You would see people explaining new techniques to other photographers. And I don't think there was any one photographer, myself included, that came in knowing everything that they were going to know by the time they left here today. Which is to say, everyone is learning new techniques. Everyone is seeing the way other people shoot. I'm seeing the same subject matter coming in through 15 different photographer's lenses in such radically different ways. And some of them I would have expected to be able to shoot myself, some of them I never would have thought of just really neat ideas, different perspectives, and that's what makes it special.
(MUSIC) It's, it's better than any one person could do on this job. Allison: Having these photographers come means we're going to get to do fun things, like probably add some great photos to our Facebook site. And get people who've never been to the conservancy to realize this is an amazing property to just come walk around. This is a great property to bring a picnic, to, you know, learn more about gardening, to come out and hike. (MUSIC) To learn about the history in Howard County, learning about farming, agriculture and what life was like in the 1700s in Howard County. David: There are people here who are complete amateurs, which is to say they don't have photography as any part of their profession.
we have people here who spend their days working in cubicles and would love to be out doing this every day. (MUSIC) For them, it is many things. It is, it's a chance to hang out and socialize with other photographers. It's a chance to try themselves at shooting specific assignments rather than just wandering around aimlessly. And it's a chance to be part of something that is producing a product of extreme value. even for professional photographers, there's a lot of draw, because we don't always get to shoot exactly what we want to shoot. And this allows us to get outside of our assigned zones.
(MUSIC) there are people who see that if you can take the initiative and do what I would consider personal work. I consider this to be personal work with a benefit. It will allow you to explore other avenues and hopefully expand your portfolios in ways that will give you access to those other assignments. Allison: We are beginning a, a fundraising campaign around our historic buildings. And so absolutely one of the priorities today was to get photographs of all of our out buildings, so that we can put together sort of a visual story of our buildings.
What you know, they date back to, what's the history of each building, and that sort of thing. And we're going to be sharing those with potential donors to try to get them to say. (MUSIC) Yes, this is a valuable resource that I want to help preserve. Help restore, help keep open and available to the public so many, many, many more generations can come here and enjoy the property. David: So, they went from having a happenstance collection of pictures, some professional, some amateur, to a categorized, well-done, toned, edited, captioned series of, of, say, 3 to 500 high-quality images for a stock library.
And the cool thing about this is we don't have the ability to write a $500,000 check to fund their endowment. Which is something they're particularly trying to do at the, at the conservancy, but we can produce the pictures that will allow them want to more easily raise that money.
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