Friday, March 25, 2011

The Lighthouse Keeper

Two of my favorite photography books are Joe McNaly’s "The Moment It Clicks" and "The Hot Shoe Diaries".

For those of you who don’t know who Joe McNally is he is an internationally acclaimed photographer and photojournalist who from 1994 to 1998 worked as LIFE magazine's staff photographer. He has shot cover stories for Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, Geo, Fortune, New York, Business Week, LIFE and Men's Journal, among others. Joe is a wealth of experience and knowledge when it comes to photography.

Not only did I learn a lot from Joe I got the idea for these photos while reading "The Hot Shoe Diaries" I came across one image of a lighthouse keeper Joe did for a workshop and I knew of a former lighthouse keeper who was about to retire and I thought it would be a great idea as a retirement portrait. The title of the piece in the book is “Make the SUNRISE”. Only thing I didn’t use a gold reflector as Joe did I used a flash with a ¼ cto gel. I also had the additional problem of an overcast sky which meant I had to adjust the ambient light exposure to keep the sky from blowing out.

Adieu Mr Cantwell

Adieu Mr Cantwell

These books changed me as a photographer, teaching me not to be so “traditional” as far as my exposures go. Years ago I would never consider adding artificial light to anything other than a portrait but a simple change in attitude has opened creative doors and possibilities.

Joe does tend to push product and brand names in his writings. Certainly it would be great to get the gear Joe advertises but in most cases much cheaper options are available. Heck, if you need a gel, a piece of colored plastic, i. e. an old plastic bag might do the job. Good thing if you’re a photographer for the love of it, you’re free to try anything and then maybe you can teach the rest of us something.

Both books are anecdotal and humorous. I really like the fact that Joe does not go into too many technical details, no need to. He continuously stresses having fun with your photography, his insights are expressed playfully and you end up coming away knowing how he created the shot.

This is Gerry Cantwell. Gerry is the sixth generation of Cantwell's to work at and look after Cape Spear Lighthouse's. The old Cape Spear lighthouse is seen here. Over the last number of years Gerry held the position of Supervisor Lightstation Operations for the Newfoundland and Labrador Region of the Canadian Coast Guard in St John's.



My view on lighting these days is if you can get the shot with natural light then get it. If you think you might like some flash fill or flash as main, do it! Do what it takes to get the shot. Free yourself from your past ideas or those others may impose on you.

If you are interested in learning photography or advancing your skill level, I highly recommend these books!

I'm planning to post some of my photography insights each weekend here on my blog. Please drop by for a read and share your experiences.

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