Tuesday, November 26, 2013

When One Teaches, Two Learn

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"When one teaches, two learn." ~Robert Heinlein

I saw this quote on another photographer's FB page-- a photographer who, beyond their work, conducts workshops. I couldn't agree with Heinlein's quote more than I do. When I'm authoring my ebooks -- and I'm currently working on my 5th one-- it's an incredibly positive learning experience for me. Not so much in terms of how to author an ebook, although that's part of it too, but in terms of my personal photographic knowledge plus my abilities to shoot the sorts of photos I hope to capture.

Some people might say that those who can shoot, shoot.... and those who can't teach. I don't agree with that sentiment at all. There are plenty of really good photographers out there who are shooting and teaching. In fact, it's the results of their shooting that awards them the credibility to teach, whether they're teaching via workshops and seminars, or videos and ebooks and more.

You don't have to be a politician to teach Political Science but you better be a photographer (and a competent one at that) to teach photography. Leastwise, if you expect other photographers to perceive you as a teacher with something valid and informative to offer.

Every time I've authored an ebook I've discovered (through research and more) things I didn't know. Each time, through the process of breaking down what I do when shooting people, I've also learned from myself. That's because I have to ask myself questions while I'm writing. Questions like, "Why am I doing this when I want this result?"

Both in my ebooks and here, on my blog, I've often talked about learning and practicing to the point that much of what you do (when shooting) becomes automatic, no-brainer, instinctive. I say that because when the craft of photography becomes more automatic and no-brainer, you're freer to focus on your subjects rather than your gear and the techniques you're employing.  I'm happy that a lot of what I do when shooting has become automatic and I don't have to think much about a lot of the tech stuff. It's very freeing.  But when I'm working on my ebooks, I have to think about those things I do that I don't really think about when I'm shooting. I have to think hard about them. And when I do that, I often discover ideas and chunks of useful knowledge that, perhaps, I've been overlooking when shooting.  At the very least, the process often validates how I do what I do, i.e., the way I do it.

You  can teach old dogs new tricks. In fact, old dogs can sometimes teach themselves new tricks. It all depends, I suppose, on the old dog.

The pretty girl at the top is Rebecca. The room I shot Rebecca in was a large entrance-way with big French windows spanning one of the foyer's walls. The front door to the home was camera-left, out of frame. The light in the room was about as soft and creamy as it gets because, overhead, there was a very large skylight letting plenty of ambient sunlight in which was bouncing off all the white walls. I set a single monolight, modified with a Photoflex 5' Octo, on the other side of the French windows to front-light Rebecca. The rest of the lighting was courtesy of the skylight, the ambient, and the ambient reflecting off the white walls and floor.


Winston Cooper said...

Jummy..your great photo brings to mind a question I always have about shooting with ambient light and flash.....what white balance is best to at least to start with...????

jimmyd said...

Hey Winston!

Whatever the color temp of the principle light falling on my subject is what I go with. When using flash in daylight, your flash is fairly close to daylight, color temp wise, so if your subject is mostly lit with the flash, you won't be far off using your camera's flash default setting in terms of the color temp of the balance of the photo. Course, doing a custom WB is always a good idea since both the flash and the ambient are contributing to the color temp. And if you're shooting RAW, you can always make color temp adjustments when converting. Personally, I like getting it right in the camera so I try not to depend on post for those sorts of adjustments. I also mostly shoot large fine JPGs so that makes it even more important for me to nail the color temp, exposure, all that stuff. My monolights, which I use often enough in daylight, are color temp rated at 5500K so I set my camera to that when shooting outdoors with flash. Heck, fore that matter, 5500K also works well using small flash instruments. Try shooting some with your color temp set to 5500K next time you're shooting in daylight with flash and see if you like the results.

Rick said...

I've been a hobbiest photographer for 17 years or so and I love teaching rookies what I know because their questions remind me of what I've forgotten.