One Week Lighting Workshop With Stanley

Since 2006 I have been doing a one-week lighting workshop as part of the School of Photography program of YWAM with Dennis Fahringer in Kona, Hawaii.

This year I was asked by two of his former students to come to Dunham, Quebec, Canada, and teach the same thing, but this time to a school that will be in French and English.

This was their very first time leading a School of Photography for YWAM. The leaders Raphael Paquet and Julie Gavillet hosted me during the week and translated me into French.

We did four lighting assignments.


© Heidi Bergeron

The students were learning where to place the leading light for a starting position with portraits. They also were learning not to light everything evenly.

Students in class working on Rembrandt Lighting

1:3 Lighting Ratio

© Heidi Bergeron

Clamshell Lighting

To demonstrate the Clamshell/Butterfly lighting, I took everyone’s photo. Here are the three students.

Tent Lighting for Products

This is because some students work with the tent lighting setup to photograph products.

Table Top Photography
Lighting Setup: Table-top Product Photography

I also told about my journey in photography and how it took time before I got the assignments I wanted. I also taught them a little about how to make a living with Business Practices.

You may be interested in a Lighting Workshop. Drop me a line if you are interested.

Spacing is important for group photos

When you have groups space the people so that if you have a second row they are staggered in between the front row.

When taking group photos, arrive early. You need to scout the location, maybe setup risers, set your lights and then wait.  When the group arrives you can ask everyone to lineup by height and start in the middle back with the tallest person. As you add people alternate them on either side of the middle.

While you might not have a set of risers there are many places you can get a similar effect.  Look for stairs a sloped area outside or if you don’t find one get up higher and shoot down on the group.

The key is to have the photo already sketched out in your mind or even on paper.  You also have to take charge right away.  I have even jokingly taken a few shots before they get into place fully.  Since the flashes go off the folks think I have already really started.  Well I have–I have taken charge and gotten their attention.

I do make a little joke and then they all laugh.  I might even snap another one for fun.  The problem with large groups is people have conversations with each other. You need their attention and also need those talking to stop.  They make it difficult for others to hear your instructions. 

Use steps or risers for larger groups so that the people on the back rows are not blocked by the height of those in front of them.

One thing these photos show is how more uniform everyone is in their dress the more of a “group” they become.  Even the introduction of color with the hoods creates a little more of individuality in the photo.

For the group photos I used this setup.  The lights were about 30 feet from the group.  The further the light is from the group the light value from the front row to the back is more even.  The closer the light is to the group the greater the risk is of the front row being much brighter than the back row.
Before and after group photos I like to shoot candid photos.  Most clients love to have this moments for their files.

Off Camera Flash – Blog post 3 of 3

You can see the blur in the volleyball even with strobes being used due to the 1/250 sync limitation.

TTL Flash offers some advantages over manual flash. I use the Nikon speedlight system that has helped me have an edge over many other photographers not using the system.

There are three things that make me choose my Nikon Speedlights over the manual flash: 1) I have no sync speed limitations, 2) quick—I don’t have to pause to take readings and then set the camera, and 3) I can shoot at very wide opening f/stops.

You can see the blur of the basketball due to slow shutter speed with the strobes.
Unlimited sync speeds

When you can shoot at any shutter speed then you open the possibilities for so many things.


  1. You can shoot at high shutter speed like 1/2000 or 1/8000 of second to stop the action.  You see when the shutter is open at 1/250 sec for manual flash there is enough movement is sports to have some motion blur.  You see this is hockey and basketball.

  3. You can control the background—outside! You can crank that shutter speed up and underexpose the background by say 2 or 3 stops and then up you flash output 2 or 3 stops to properly expose a subject, yet underexpose the background.  Great to get those dark blue skies behind a subject.

The TTL flash easily figured the correct amount of fill flash on the fly here.

You don’t always have time in some situations to take the time to take flash readings and then set the camera.  News events are a good example where you need to be ready.  Recently I photographed the founder, president and son of the president for an article.  These folks are known to change their mind at the last second and ask you to photograph them just about anywhere—this is when having a TTL portable flash let’s you adjust on the fly.

Taking a flash into the rain forest where coffee is grown in the mountains of Mexico lets me pull it out under all the shade to make the photo look like sunlight.
Wide-open f/stops

Many photographers today are shooting with an f/1.4 lens.  If you go outside to shoot you cannot use a manual flash because shooting at f/1.4 means you will have to shoot at a very high shutter speed.  The TTL high-speed sync lets you shoot with a flash. 

To be able to shoot large groups outside you need those high f/stops that will often require the manual flash.  To be flexible and use high sync shutter speed you need the TTL system.  What I hope you now know is there are advantages to both systems.  Don’t buy both systems right away.  Buy one and learn how to use all the advantages of the system.  Once you find you cannot deliver photography to clients because the system you have is limited—buy the next system and learn all it can do.