Being able to sum up a lighting situation and almost instinctively know what to do to improve it (or even if it needs improving) is one the most important lighting skills you can have, according to Neil van Niekerk in Wayne, N.J. While that is not something you can learn in one go, it's part of what he will help photographers work towards in his upcoming PPA webinar, "Just Give Me the F-stop" (June 21, 12:00pm Eastern).
Beautiful lighting is an art and a science, and Niekerk's point is that you can't depend on just the numerical equipment settings to get it right. You have to combine that with methods and with an artistic eye. And he should know. Niekerk has taught many workshops on flash photography and lighting, maintains a blog with education articles on the subject and has even written a book about flash!
In fact, Niekerk says his goal during his regular workshops are "a few 'ah, NOW I get it' moments" like he experienced himself.
"For myself, I had a breakthrough [in understanding light & flash] when I finally realized that TTL flash and manual flash are two completely different animals," recalls Niekerk. "All the rules and guidelines that we are taught about flash are steeped in the formalities of manual flash; but when you work with TTL flash, it all changes. The old guidelines fall away. Once you realize that (and learn to control TTL flash), you have a remarkably versatile lighting tool."
Would you like to learn some of the methods Niekerk uses, such as how gelling your flash for tungsten can make flash blend seamlessly with the available light? Perhaps Niekerk will even discuss his infamous "Black Foamie Thing," a device he fashioned to soften and be more unobtrusive with flash.
Regardless, you'll want to join Niekerk on June 21st because he won't just stop at the f-stop...he'll take you to beautiful light.