During early March 2014 I flew to Dubai to attend a Joe McNally photography course at Gulf Photo Plus 2014 concentrating on the use of small flash units known as speedlites.
12 students from all over the world joined me on a two day course.
We gathered in the Auditorium in Knowledge Village and began with a get to know you session and understanding our photography level - some amateur some Pro. we discussed what we were hoping to gain from the course.
After hearing everyones story we got on with the first lesson Joe's workflow when approaching a typical enviromental portrait. Surveying the area in which you shoot and the pros's and cons of the available light. We were inside the auditorium and believe me the available light was awful - there's no way you could possibly get a good shot here !! Wrong!!
Joe picked his spot started gaining the correct ambient light exposure (shutter and F stop) with a plus 3 exposure compensation. He then began to add his Flash lights and various lighting modifiers. And so began the creative process and quite frankly it was amazing how he built each lighting effect each creating subtle yet effective mood and soul to the shot. What amazed me though was actually how simple he made it look. Of course this was experience being witnessed first hand. Knowing where to put the lights and the effect desired 35 years of professional photography at a very high level.
So we all witnessed first hand how to approach the building of a shot with small flash and the various trigger systems that could be used. Joe used a line of sight trigering system, I personally prefer my Pocket Wizard both do the same job its what you feel comfortable with ultimately.
The next session was to be shooting models with some of the technique Joe had explained during the previous session outside with various flash modifiers and understanding the quality of light. We were introduced to our models and were put into 4 groups of three.
This was in itself quite nerve racking as the three photographers and the models were all strangers and suddenly we were being asked to be creative together. I found this the hardest session as the surroundings we used weren't particularly inspiring and it was hard midday sunshine. Perhaps that was the point- we managed to all get along and make some shots. This of course was a learning experience and indeed mistakes were to be made.
After this session it was time to go home with homework - best two shots and worse two shots ready for a full critique by Joe in the morning.
The following morning arrived and we again gathered in the Auditorium. We uploaded our shots and were ready for the masters critique. In fairness to Joe it was simply a true and honest appraisal with constructive criticisms and encouragment. The session took about two hours and on the whole was very useful. This was the first time I had any of my shots critiqued. The only regret was I didn't really like them. Perhaps if I had produced what I thought were good shots then heard a critique I would of felt better.
On to the last session which I felt was the most productive and fun session. On location with models at a local authentic Dubai market.
We remained in our three Rasha from Bahrain and Maha from Saudi.
We began with a saxophonist who in all honesty had not modelled before so was a little nervous. However, these shots were much better and far more enjoyable. We all used light modifiers with off camera triggers. The modifier we used was a rouge Flash bender. We tried using a soft box but found it really a pain in terms of carrying everywhere. Got a feeling Joe was a little miffed as the quality of light would of been better though a soft box. Sorry Joe...
Here are a couple of shots of our Sax player...
Next we changed models and we were introduced to the lovely Jay an American Jazz singer based in Abu Dhabi.
Jay was excellent superb attitude and just great at posing. Here are some of her shots with some basic post.
Whilst in the market I really wanted to take some street shots of local market traders. I took these with their permission and they loved having their photo taken. Its a shame they are unlikely to ever see them...
After the market location shoot it was a wrap. Time had run out and it was time to go home. Just a few snaps of new friends together with Joe.
Such a great two day workshop new lessons learnt but most importantly new friends.
GPP 2015 ? hope so