It's been so long since I've had an entity for this category as opposed to a person and/or persons that I can't even remember when the last one was. However, there was no doubt after Saturday that IKONIX Studio would be breaking that streak. I kept telling myself that I would do a post about just them. I kept putting it off for no good reason. Then I participated in their Creative Lighting Workshop. After that, I was convinced that there was no time like the present.
I had been following IKONIX Studio and its owner Tom Woolery on The Book for some time now. I figured the best way to get better at photography would be networking with some local folks that were already doing it. Not necessarily the heavy hitters but fellow up and comers who had been doing it longer than myself. That's when I saw that he had an upcoming workshop on Creative Lighting. The introductory one he offered on how to set up a shoot should have been what I did first, but I missed that one the first time around. I wasn't missing this one.
I knew going in that I would end up having a case of camera envy. As good as my Canon SX1 is, it is by no means top of the line. It's clearly better than average, but nowhere close to what those other photographers brought with them. I was embarrassed to break mine out. That's why I kept it covered most of the time while everyone else was freely brandishing theirs.
My intent was to sit there and observe then catch some tips and hints by watching others. It didn't work out quite the way I planned. That was definitely for the best though. When they started doing the lighting exercises I snapped a couple of random pictures to see how my photos would stack up to what Tom's camera was producing. Here was the best one from that collection:
Not entirely bad but nothing at all like the other folks were coming up with. Tom quickly saw that I was struggling and slyly pulled me aside. He gave me a quick Cliff Notes lesson the manual settings so I knew how to get the most of my camera. Most importantly, he hipped me to the Pocket Wizard that made a WORLD of difference. Check out a sample pic that I took after heeding his words of advice just a few moments later:
The difference is clearly negligible. I was like a little kid in the candy store once I discovered the joys of the Pocket Wizard. What was even better was I was gaining a little respect among some of the folks there. They could see that my camera wasn't quite the juggernaut that some of them had, but they could also see from my shots that I had an eye for good shots and angles. I was getting the most out of my camera in spite of the fact that the F-stop doesn't go below 2.8 and no higher than 8. If you're not a camera nerd then that last comment means nothing at all to you.
Once I was getting into the flow of things I was able to do some networking with some of the other folks there. I found out even more helpful hints that I could use on later shoots. Like how to get the best depth of field effects (again...too bad my camera doesn't go lower than 2.8). Or what online groups to join to meet other photo enthusiasts. Or what local places NOT to shop at if you want good customer service as well as decent prices.
There was much to be said for the model who posed for all these pictures. Kari was quite the good sport as we sat there snapping away. And she was spot on with each pose. She knew just how to get the best angles possible out of the contours of her frame so that each shot looked professional. It was clear she had been doing this modeling thing for a while as she transitioned flawlessly into each new pose with ease.
That workshop was probably some of the most productive 4-hours I have ever spent. I went in expecting that most of it would be entirely over my head. Okay...a lot of it was. But Tom and many of the folks there made it much easier to understand with the hands-on demonstrations. You can see the proof in the pudding yourself in the IKONIX Creative Lighting photo album. Thanks to that workshop, I now have the confidence to work in that strobelit studio. I actually look forward to it more than the natural light studio. But most important, I realize that even though I desperately need an upgraded camera I can still wreck shop with the one I have.