Give yourself an assignment

I just got back from Hawaii and I’m excited. It was my fifth trip to Hawaii to teach, but photographically this was the best trip by far.

Why so? Well this time I had a couple of assignments.
On the drive over to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park my daughter calls me and says, “Daddy, I need some photos for of the volcano for my class at school. We’re studying the Earth’s crust and I thought the volcano would be a good way to show it.”
Listen, with an extraordinary assignment like that you give it all you got! I knew I needed to do an outstanding job for this client. Besides, this gave me the perfect opportunity to play with my new Nikon D3s.
At the Volcanoes Park I meet this Park Ranger and decide to interview her since she was bound to know more about it than I did (wouldn’t take much).
When I told her about my assignment and the intended audience she knew just what to do. We did the interview in one take. I got the feeling she’d done this before – what a pro.
Here’s what we did from my daughter’s class. You can see it for yourself.
[vimeo w=500&h=281]  Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from Stanley Leary on Vimeo.

Here’s another assignment I did while on the island.
I’d been to the luau the Island Breeze produces in Kona. I asked the folks at the school where I was teaching if there was a way we could set-up a shoot with these dancers. Don’t tell me luck has nothing to do with anything. One of the dancers with Island Breeze was actually in my class! Brooke Valle, the student, is also a professional dancer and travels the world full-time dancing.
I was able to photograph the women dancers and one of the guys who is a fire dancer. They were excited. We photographed the women one night at the home of Kamehemeha the Great, the first king to rule all the islands. The next night we photographed the fire dancer on the beach.
I used this as an opportunity to show the students how to silhouette the dancers and expose for the sky at dusk, which makes for a great looking sky, but puts dancers in the dark. Then I showed them how to use remote Nikon TTL flashes to light up the dancers and make them pop.
Here are the examples:
Here the dancers are silhouetted.
They are now revealed with the flash.
One of my favorites showing the king’s palace in the background.
The dancer is silhouetted.
Now he is revealed with the flash.
These self-assignments, well one assigned by my daughter, forced me to pre-plan. The photographs were better than in past trips and it was a lot of fun.

Want better travel photos? Do some research and preplan. You’ll be glad you did.

Here are some of the student’s first attempts working with studio lighting and off-camera flash after a few days in class.

[vimeo w=500&h=281]  Youth With A Mission Photography School 1 from Stanley Leary on Vimeo.

Leave a Reply