Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Occasionally I Learn Something New

I was looking at this blog earlier and I noticed that it has been nearly a full year since I last posted. I'm sure I could come up with some great excuses as to why it's taken me so long, but I really don't have an excuse, I've just neglected it. Sure, I have great plans to add great content here, but then when it comes down to it I just don't make, or take, the time to do so. Maybe I feel that the content I have in mind isn't really that great after all. So, this post will keep me from going more than a year between posts, and brings you, the reader, a bit up to date on at least a couple of things.

Did you know that my long time, yet unrealized, goal is to be a full-time photographer? I've been taking photos for over 20 years, and have shot weddings, portraits, events, and more. I love it, but making the leap to full-time isn't as easy as it might seem.

While in college in the early 1990s, I came up with the name Pifer's Professional Photography, which I used for many years. Later I had the custom license plate, PPPHOTO, on my truck. This business name served me well for many years of part-time photography, but I decided that I needed a change.

As I considered it, I realized that "Professional" as part of a business name is a bit redundant. If I'm really in business, then I should be professional. Also, I thought that maybe others would consider me to be a bit pretentious. A change was definitely needed.

One of my early thoughts, and one that I still really like, was Light Scribbles. You'll notice that I have used that as the title of this blog. Photography is literally light writing, but sometimes I feel that mine is more of just scribbling, and the name was born.

Eventually I settled on Craig Pifer Photography. It's simple, tells people who I am and what I do. There is one added bonus to using this as a business name. In Oregon I don't need to register my business, and therefore pay the business registration fee, as long as I am using my full name as part of the business name and not operating under an assumed name. For me that's a real plus, especially since I am not earning a full-time income, yet.

So, back to the title of this post.
I really do learning new things, and actually love doing so. One of my favorite sayings that I came up with several years ago is, "If you're not learning, you must be dead." I don't want to be dead anytime soon, so better keep up with the learning.

One of my major sources of learning, and inspiration, lately has been my Google+ stream. Of course, in such an environment many of the things I see are just snippets, enough to give me an idea, but not really imbed it into my brain. Sometimes it really does take repetition to truly learn and know something.

This past September I was very fortunate in being able to attend WPPI U in Portland. (WPPI is Wedding and Portrait Photographers International) The two day conference was extremely informational, and I know I learned something. Some of it still needs repetition to get it fully ingrained into my mind.

There were two of the eight sessions at WPPI U that dealt with off-camera manual flash. This was something that I was vaguely aware of, had read a few things about, but had never actually tried. After the conference I was eager to try it out, and I must say I love it.

I really think that using off-camera manual flash can really take my photography to another level. It's getting me away from relying on my camera and flash to make the decision on how much light to provide. It has added a few things to my wishlist, not because I think the gear will instantly make my photos better, but because I feel that my photography has exceeded the capability of the limited gear I have now.

So, I still need to play with this and really learn it, but I am so happy with the results I have gotten. I would like to leave you with a few samples of my recent work with off-camera manual flash. Of course, the most readily available models that I have happen to be my daughters. I love that I can use this technique on the fly by holding the flash in one hand and the camera in the other, or by using one of my light stands for a more formal session. One thing to note in these photos is that using the standard E-TTL flash mode would have likely resulted in a completely white sky background and/or an underexposed foreground, including my beautiful models.

I was in "on the fly" mode chasing my youngest daughter around the park. Notice how this flash technique provides the correct exposure for both my background and for my subject.

Let's see what I can learn next time to share on my blog. I certainly hope it doesn't take me another year.

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