One Light DVD's

By Martin Joergensen | August 25, 2008 8:14 AM | Permalink | Comments ( 0) | TrackBacks ( 0)

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Photographer Zack Arias has had a blog centering on one flash shooting for a while, and I have followed him almost since the beginning. Zack is based in Atlanta, and has a thriving business as a music and promotion photographer.

One of his hallmarks is using one flash off camera - and that's one flash only. Following his blog has taught me that Zack is not only knowledgeable on flash photography (and photography as a whole), but also able to convey that knowledge in an easily understandable and entertaining way.

He has made a number of posts and online videos with instructions on different ways of shooting with one flash, and he has also conducted a number of one light workshops all over the continent of North America.

Zack has now compiled a lot of that knowledge and the experience from the workshops and his assignments into a set of DVD's on flash shooting.

In a dizzying 4 hours of theory, instruction and location and client sessions Zack covers a host of different lighting situations from the simple white room over the complex outdoors scenes to client shots of individuals and groups where all the things you have learned comes into play. And the beauty of it all is that it's all done with one off-camera flash. One!

The first DVD starts with a sequence on the theory of flash and exposure, and Zack manages to explain the factors involved in flash shooting and why he always shoots fully manual on both the camera and the flash.

Repeat after me: "Shutter speed controls ambient light, aperture controls the flash. Shutter speed controls ambient light, aperture controls the flash! Shutter speed controls...". You get the idea.
This is not meant in a critical way. Rather the opposite, because the way that Zack keeps emphasizing the relations between exposure, flash power and distance makes it stick, and once he is well into the shooting, you will notice how he constantly applies this knowledge to the situations and reminds you of the rules again and again.

All the way through this he's commenting on what he's doing, and many of the shots are shown to illustrate the points in a very simple and comprehensive way. At the same time you get a bit of insight into a way to work as a photographer: Zack fooling around, Zack singing, Zack talking with southern accent, Zack getting his clothes dirty, Zack directing models and assistants. All helps the flow on the set, the model relaxing and - in the end - getting the proper image.

We're also treated to a gear tour, which is short and sweet: different flashes and different modifiers. Well illustrated and easy to understand. And all within a budget, which any photographer can manage. Remember that this is one flash, and in most cases you will be able to do on a battery operated strobe, a convertible umbrella, a small softbox and a grid. A set of Pocket Wizards is the most extravagant investment mentioned, but less expensive alternatives are shown.

Altogether a great ride and really useful and instructive as well as entertaining.

But all this does come at a price. At 225 US$ this is one of the most expensive double-DVD boxes that I have. And this is even an introductory price. It will go up in the coming time. OK, you do get a T-shirt, box-fillers, stickers, an excellent CD with Zack's wife's music (yes!), but it's still quite expensive.
I can easily understand why: producing two DVD's is not cheap, and there's a lot of work put into this project. We're talking four hours of professionally shot and produced material.

It's not like the DVD's are not worth it.
They certainly are!

I just fear that many small flash enthusiasts will rather spend the money on an extra flash. Which would be a pity, because this set of DVD's could teach them how to manage on the one they have, and do it well.

Here's a small sample of the first disc:

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