After Dark Edu

After Dark Photography Education – St Louis – 2014

After Dark is one of the very best experiences to learn more about photography, whether technique or business or to be inspired. Not quite a convention, it’s more of a slightly-anarchic experience. It’s hard to describe really, but ask anyone who has attended, and they will all rave about it, myself included.

The After Dark Photo Education convention took place again this past week: March 30 – April 2. Awesome news for the 300+ people who attended. Sad news was that this will be the last After Dark event. So for those who were there, there was definitely a sense of making this one really count! At the end of 2013, Dave Junion, the mastermind behind After Dark, announced that that would be the last event. I’m going to take a (probably accurate) guess here that repeatedly running an event of this magnitude across the USA, takes its toll on your stamina. But because of the outcries from past attendees, the After Dark team hosted an After Dark event in St Louis in 2013 … and now again.

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off-camera flash / speed light – overpowering the sun – what are my settings?

Teaching a class on using off-camera flash at a photography convention, I took a group of attendees outside on the street with two models. Then I stepped them through the thought-process in how to get to your basic, fail-safe, works-everytime settings for off-camera flash. We specifically looked here at camera and flash settings to match / over-power the sun.

Regular visitors to the Tangents blog and those who have read my books on flash photography, should know the algorithm off by heart. There’s a specific thought-process that will get you to your basic camera & flash settings when working in bright sunlight, where you have to overpower the sun with a single speed light.

Instead of re-treading this ground myself, and re-stating everything, I thought it would be good to have everyone work through this themselves. It’s a good check to see if you’re familiar with what you need to do. There’s a very specific series of decisions you make that gets you to where you need to be with your camera and flash setting – and then you can concentrate on composition and everything else that is important in taking a photograph.  The camera settings choice should be second nature and should take you a few seconds.

So here’s the challenge – call it homework if you will:

  1. What are my (typical) camera & flash settings for the photograph at the top?
  2. How did I arrive at these settings?

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After Dark Photography Education – St Louis, MO – 2013

Anyone who regularly followed the Tangents blog during the past year or so, will know that I’ve raved about the After Dark events that I attended (and presented at). In my opinion, After Dark is the best (and most fun) learning experience that I’ve encountered.

If you want more details about After Dark:
After Dark Edu website for more info
After Dark on Facebook, if you want to closely follow discussions

The one After Dark event that was announced for 2013, was held in St Louis. As before, I did several presentations and I’d like to show some of the images that I shot while here.

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After Dark Photography Education – Charlotte, NC –  2012

The recent After Dark event in Charlotte was the third time that I attended as a presenter. As you may well guess from my previous blog posts about After Dark Education events, I loved it!  A crazy-hectic-fun time. So much to do and learn and take part in. It is in my opinion the best opportunity for any photographer to learn and shoot. A lot. To sign up, or for more details, check out the After Dark Education (ADE) site.

The photo above is of Megan, one of the models at ADE. I little bit more about the setup …

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After Dark Photography Education – Dallas, TX – 2012

I’ve raved here about the After Dark photography conventions before, as being the best photography convention / learning experience that I’ve attended. So it is with great pleasure that I did several presentations at the After Dark event in Dallas, TX during Feb 27 -29, 2012. I even expanded the range of topics I taught to include a presentation on basic portrait retouching in Photoshop and Lightroom.

Of course, part of the fun of After Dark Edu, is that you can use any of the 10 bays where there are numerous lighting goodies, and photograph one of the models there. So you get to play with gear you wouldn’t normally have access to … along with the various Mentors there to help you. Or, if you choose, you can just play around on your own and discover. And this is what I did here when I photographed Madison. I added a beauty dish and an  Westcott eyelighter reflector (vendor) , and a gridded softbox for a bit of a kicker, and another light for the background. Just having fun, seeing what the result would look like. And that’s a way to learn. Here’s the pull-back shot …

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favorite images – After Dark Edu – Charlotte, NC – 2011

As a mentor and presenter at the recent After Dark Education events in Charlotte, (much like what happens at any workshop or seminar that I present), I didn’t get to shoot much. I feel it is more important to let the people that are attending, get the time with fingers-on-the-camera’s-controls. But I did get to play with some of the lighting equipment in the bays there. That’s much of the attraction of the After Dark events – loads of lighting toys to play with and learn and figure out on your own, or with the help of someone.

With that, here are a few of my favorite images …

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After Dark photography education – Charlotte, NC – 2011

This striking portrait is of Britney, one of the number of models that are at this, the current After Dark photography convention. Regular followers of the Tangents blog will easily recognize the lighting as being a video light. In this case, I reverted to the Lowel ID-light because it creates a stronger beam of light which can be spread wider than an LED video light. Typical of After Dark, this photo session / mini-presentation was an impromptu one that started after the evenings classes and presentations had already ended at midnight.

Meeting up with Britney and her sister Nicole (who is also a model), and two other photographers, the group of photographers eventually spilled out to the lobby of the hotel and swelled to a group of about 30 photographers all taking part. And that’s the reason I wanted to use the Lowel ID-light … the person holding up the video light, could stand further back and we’d still get decent camera settings.  An LED video light would not have been powerful enough for this situation.

image details:
1/160 @ f2.8 @ 1000 ISO … with video light; no flash
Nikon D3;  Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR II (B&H)
The lens was used at 200mm to compress the background – an out-of-focus piece of artwork.

more articles about the use of video light for photography

Enough of the video light though. I’ve gushed about the After Dark experience before when I presented at the Cincinatti event, and when I had a quick look-in at the Las Vegas event.

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After Dark photography education – Cincinnati, OH – 2011

In an earlier post I mentioned how impressed I was with After Dark’s workshops & seminar series in Las Vegas. I was invited by Dave Junion to teach at the Cincinnati venue this past week as one of the Mentors.  I presented 4 seminars and shooting sessions, and another impromptu demonstration late the one night. It was exhilarating and energizing to be a part of it.

After Dark has a certain structure –  10 areas / pods set up for seminar presentations; and 10 studio bays set up where Mentors can teach in a direct hands-on manner. But all this doesn’t really describe the easy-going flow of activity and learning and sharing that goes on. In that earlier post I described After Dark as ‘controlled anarchy‘. And that is what makes it so unique. You can move around between presentations and shoots, and learn from anyone. You can even ask any of the Mentors or attendees to help you. It’s an incredibly supportive and nourishing environment for any photographer.

Just as cool is that there are studio bays that are open, which might not be busy at any point. You can then mark down that you want to spend some time there. You also get the opportunity to play with a huge variety of lighting gear. You can play around on your own, or have someone help you. You can make mistakes. You don’t have to impress anyone. You just have to learn and have fun with it all …

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After Dark photography education

This photograph was taken at one of the stations at the After Dark workshops in Las Vegas. Two strip lights on either side, freezing this Cirque du Soleil performer doing jumps on his board. Pretty wild, I think.

“Pretty wild” would also sum up the entire three day experience of attending the After Dark workshop, if I had to go by the Friday evening that I was able to attend. This is where After Dark differs from other workshops and conventions, in my opinion.  Just a simple description of the workshop as being 3 days of a series of seminars and demonstrations, doesn’t quite encompass it …

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