strobist PRO 1:33am, 2 July 2006
Please use this thread to house discussion for the second Boot Camp assignment. This is the "while you are doing it" thread. The after-assignment thread will be separate.

Exchange questions and answers, ideas, lighting approaches, etc.

As we go on, I am going to start to let you all learn to rely more on your group as it's own resource, just as I would as we would while progressing through a semseter during a normal college class.

The full details of the assignment have been posted, here.

Have fun.

Whyrnutz Posted 12 years ago. Edited by Whyrnutz (member) 12 years ago
"Photo will run on a left-hand page, so assume that when composing."

Hmmm....sounds like an important clue!
strobist PRO 12 years ago
Just something to keep in mind. It is important to take design needs into a photo when shooting an assignment. You would not want the subject on the far left, looking left, for instance.

Try to imagine the final product in the magazine and work toward a good overall look.

Design constraints will become more stringent on a couple of the future assignments.
val_photo_gal 12 years ago
Wonder if I can ask a question about this one? (answer or not if we're supposed to get this on our own)

Is the background supposed to be an important element of the image, or just a nice foil for the subject?

Should the background relate to the subject or be part of the 'info we learn about Pat - the subject' ?

I'm gonna get started early on this one - but then I won't have that as an excuse either (yikes). :-)

- Val
strobist PRO 12 years ago
Since you really do not know why Pat is being shot, it's pretty much open.

But I would say to not let the background be the star of the photo. Think of it as another layer of interest in a portrait. Like background paper, but better.

Think of it this way:

Good light, a two-dimensional background that is more interesting that what you would find in a studio, good (engaging) expression in the subject.

These are all fairly simple building blocks that can combine to make a very strong photo.

And since you can find and choose your backdrop and can do decent light, you only have to work the variable of getting an engaged subject while you are actually shooting.

The best shooters leave little to chance.

Clear as mud?
Super Hanz 12 years ago
very intriguing assignment. Im excited about this one. Just nto sure which idea I want to go w/
liam_the_duke 12 years ago
Is there a distinction to be made here between a background (ie a brick wall) and a backdrop (ie an urban skyline or a lush and verdant public park)?

Keep on partying on,
strobist PRO 12 years ago
This one should be fairly two-dimensional. The idea is to be able to control it with added light to get the look you want.
BillNPhoto 12 years ago
This might be a dumb question for some - but what is the size of a full page?

I joined the group in the final days of the last assignment so didn't get anything done.

MagikTrik Posted 12 years ago. Edited by MagikTrik (member) 12 years ago
"Will run full page in magazine, so shoot vertical."
Just pick up a magazine, I don't think it has to be exact format though because I'd assume the editors/designers can always crop it to the exact size they want.
I just looked at a few magazines to see how other people shoot portraits like this to get an idea.
I'm already getting some really godd ideas too (at least good to me) I just have to wait for my models to get back home :D
E.S.P 12 years ago
Do we need to allow room for "editorial" text, or am I thinking too much into this?
strobist PRO 12 years ago
Nope. The space is all yours. But you'll want to "earn" that full-page display, Dragonfly...
ekmai 12 years ago
Had a bash at this today and talk about difficult! Any ideas on how this could have worked better would be most welcome.
Has anyone got any tips on how to keep your subject engaged? I managed to have a go at the background assignment with a restaurant owner who is a really nice guy. The restaurant has gone for a minimalist look, bare white walls with photos propped up on the floor and shelves and white marble table tops, with blazing red high-back leather benches, so that is what I was trying to emphasise. Started off happy and smiling, looking good, but the background flash isn't doing its stuff; make a few adjustments try again; better (Photo A). Tried a different position (Photo B); adjust the flash again; try again (Photo C); adjust again; different position ..... with all my tweaking (about 5 minutes for 10 photos, my happy smiling subject's patience was looking to wear a bit thin (Photo D). i guess you must deal with this kind of thing every day David, but how do you keep calm and focused? Reviewing my photos back home I was kicking myself for not trying this and that, but at the time I was flapping around like a mad chicken that I didn't really pay attention to the details.
strobist PRO 12 years ago
"Has anyone got any tips on how to keep your subject engaged?"

(I was gonna make a marriage joke here, but thought the better of it.)

As for the other, I generally tell them it'll take me about five minutes to set up my light, so they are not getting burned out while I am getting the light right. Then I work pretty quickly and go until I sense they are wearing out.

All of these things apply to shooting kids, too. Only more so.
Scott Hargis Posted 12 years ago. Edited by Scott Hargis (member) 12 years ago
What David said. I always tell my subject that I'll be 'fiddling around' for a few minutes (even though in reality I'm desparately trying to get something basic figured out!). I keep a continuous stream of conversation going, and since the subject knows that this is going to go on for 5-10 minutes, or whatever time I had told him/her, they're more relaxed and friendly. They're much more comfortable when they know there's a fixed end point.

That said, (and David please don't kick me off this site for saying this!) technique is only part of the game: the best photogs have an incredible ability to instantly establish rapport with subjects - check out the work of Diane Arbus, or David Alan Harvey, or William Allard, or Jodi Cobb. They are so 'in' with their subjects that they can do anything they want. They've mastered the technical stuff; the rest is their personalities. We have to practice this as well as the technical.
anglophone1 Posted 12 years ago. Edited by anglophone1 (member) 12 years ago
Having been fortunate enough to work with both David Harvey and Bill Allard, I have learned that this abilty is built not necessarily on "instant rapport" but on often spending a considerable time [days or weeks] with the subject before really starting work.
Time is the biggest bonus that most photographers [and writers I guess too] that work for National Geo , the average assignment can last between 6 weeks and 3 months.
David likes to say "I go somewhere,and build a life there, takes a while to do this, then I photograph that life....................."
Both fans of slow synch dialed down on camera flash, David has recently been doing a lot with off-camera Nikon stuff..............
Both are Leica guys who have been forced to switch to digital SLR for production reasons.
Hope this helps!
ekmai 12 years ago
Cheers guys, good idea. I usually just ask "can I take your photo?" which I guess they think will be a few seconds. I'll make sure I give them an end-time.

Thanks again -- EK
thatoutdoorguy 12 years ago
Also helpful (but not always possible) is to have the lighting set up before you even get the subject to join you. I think David has mentioned a couple times using his own hand to judge the light. You can also have your subject just relaxing (checking their calendar, on the cell phone, or whatever) as you set the lights. Then get their attention and work with them to get the expression you want once you have the lights set the way you want.
thundering growth [deleted] 12 years ago
In my very limited experience photographing people in the studio, I found that there was a golden period of just a few minutes exactly when the session starts. They sort of realise that they're really doing this and a smile almost always appears. Then, quickly, they start to wonder what it is exactly they should be doing and it can often be all downhill from there.

Another trick which worked well once was to burn through a lot of 120 film very quickly (works best with plugged-in studio flashes). People like seeing that the photographer doesn't care about his expensive matierials and just focuses on them.

Yet another anecdote, the complete opposite of the above one: I had an assignment for my photo course to take a three-picture portrait series with 4x5 large format film. Between film and dev (C41), each exposure costs €7.50 or $10. It was only my second or third time using a view camera and I went home to a retired friend of mine and spent hours setting up each shot -- composition, angle, lighting, everything. I made just four exposures during the whole day (two of which were of the same scene, just to be sure). So each exposure was reverent, a moment of meditiation between photographer and subject. Incredible. I was quite happy with the results too.

Limitiations are a fantastic source of creativity.
strobist PRO 12 years ago
"Limitiations are a fantastic source of creativity. "


I could not agree more.
strobe_flash 12 years ago
Searching on the tags for the second assignment and it seems a couple of folks might have missed this rule;

>3) You may turn in only one final photo per assignment. The way you turn it in is to stick it in the Flickr Strobist Pool and tag it as instructed.

Unless they're just waiting to decide which to go with, as Rule 3 goes on to say...

>If you turn in a photo early, and improve it on a subsequent shoot, it is easy to pull the inferior one by simply pulling the tag off.

Sorry to sound like a rule Nazi, but thought I'd point it out. Someone correct me if I missed a change of approach though!
trappedlight 12 years ago
Strobe flash et al,

So what do you do if you have more than one photo for an assignment, that you'd like to get feedback & ideas on?

For myself I'm trying to shoot more than just one photo, for the practice & experience. This whole flash thing isn't normal to me, so shooting more helps make the process more natural.

Should we just contribute it to the group but not put the assignment tag on it?
chris.peplin 12 years ago
Exactly, trappedlight, you can post up to a shot a day in the Strobist pool as long as only one at a time is tagged as bootcamp.
rob_from_ca PRO 12 years ago
I've been making photosets for all the shots that I'd like to compare, and then posting one to the group...hasn't been working though, since the others have very few views. Might help to leave in the description that it's part of a photoset.

As for how my shoot went, I think I was very much winging it. It ended up hot hot hot (90 degrees ish) even though it was 7:45pm, so everyone was uncomfortable. I also ended up having to bend my arm at very strange angles to keep my elbow shadow from the sun out of the picture.

I ended up getting a few shots I liked, but I think that particular background has a lot more potential.
strobe_flash 12 years ago
@trappedlight - hear you loud and clear. Like Rob_from_Ca has been doing, I've added various pics I'd like feedback on to a photoset that can be reached from my profile outside of the Pool - but like he said, it's harder for folks to find them and comment. I guess you can just add to the pool, but only tag one for the assignment entry...
strobe_flash 12 years ago
Actually another thought...

We could add the tag "stobistbootcamp" and then a NEW tag like, "Review2" meaning "I have a picture(s) for assignment two that I invite feedback and comments on". Later, the user can delete the pics or change the tag of one of them to place their single entry into the assignment. This way the pics go into the Pool, daily limit allowing, and can readily be commneted on pre-decisions for the assignment??
trappedlight 12 years ago
Well I've untagged my extra photo so its not in the background group. But its still in the pool for feedback. Thanks.
strobist PRO 12 years ago
Today's the day. Get 'em in by midnite, folks!
Vieira PRO 12 years ago
strobist said: "Good light, a two-dimensional background that is more interesting that what you would find in a studio, good (engaging) expression in the subject."

Like your icon?
tpuerzer 12 years ago
I'd be interested in any feedback on issues with my submission, given that it didn't "make the cut". Not enough of a "background"? Too much like a studio portrait?

Night Garden - Outdoor shot

Certainly, the assignment was very educational. Amazing how "little" things like the wind can play a big part in using an umbrella outdoors. :)

Anyway, I'd love some feedback...

And I can't wait for the next assignment... This is a blast!

Scott Hargis 12 years ago
tpuerzer -

I think it definately has a "studio" look to it, particularly with the lighting. But it's still a well-executed photograph, and I've seen many like it on many a magazine page.
One thing that I think is key is that the background is at its best when it tells a story about the subject. If your model is a landscape architect, for instance, then that's a great background. But if she's a doctor, then it doesn't make as much sense.

My own entry didn't really do this - I just picked a brick wall that I knew got great light in the evening and put a guy in front of it. Pretty boring, now that I look at it.
I finally got paid by a client so I now have three more strobes, some umbrellas, superclamps, and ebay radio triggers en route. Watch out - I'm ready for the next assignment too!
Scott Hargis 12 years ago
I guess I'd like to hear any feedback on my image as well:

As was already noted by someone, I cut off this guys elbow, which bugs me.
tpuerzer 12 years ago
Scott Hargis

Thanks for your well thought out comments. And, no, my friend is not a landscape architect, but her garden is something very special to her - so there is a definite context for the background. In fact, while I was setting up for the shoot I accidentally stepped on a small plant - which almost caused an abrupt halt to the photo session! (Which reminds me, I promised to replace that plant for her... )

I like your photo a lot. At first I thought that simply cropping the photo even tighter - or better yet, including more wall on the right would make for a better image (with potentially more room for a designer to include text). But, then I noticed that there is some very nice modeling from the light on your subject's right arm. So, I concur - it really would have been more interesting to see more of that in the photo. Anyway, I think the colors of your background work well with the clothing. And, I think the background looks like it could be the side of a stadium - so it works well with the athletic theme.

BTW - Something I've noticed with this assignment is that many of the entries are quite "wide" shots where the actual subject fills only a fraction of the picture area. This is the opposite of one of the most often repeated critiques of many portraits - "Get in closer!"

Perhaps we should have both gone wider on our shots?

It's great that there is always something new to think about.

See you in round three... :)
Rafa Barbera 12 years ago
tpuerzer, I'm very surprised that your one not "make the cut". Was one of my favorites from the moment you published it. I liked a lot the smooth skin tones and the contrast between the warm tones in your model and the green background. It really works fine for me, and was one of the images that push me forward to try to get the better that I can.

Your image Scott, didn't work for me. The trimed elbow was very distracting for me. And the background didn't match very well with your subject for me. The oranges works fine, but I don't like the horizontal/vertical lines.

As with the first assignment, I was stuned with David selection. Some of the images didn't have the background iluminated with strobes (as the assginment ask for), others haven't artificial "repetable" backgrounds as the introduction to the assignment sugest... David himself talk about this on the discursion article on the blog.

Any way, I think that David is very "relaxed" on the rules ;-). We are talking about the results in this thread, linked from the strobist blog and this thread begins with a message from David, that clearly say that this thread will not be used to discuss the results :-) :-).

I think about this bootcamp as a excuse to exercise my lighting hability, "fighting" with all of you, that put the level at a higher mark that if I was traying to learn alone. Also is a fun way to spend this hot spanish summer...

Well, see you in round three....
Ben Syverson PRO Posted 12 years ago. Edited by Ben Syverson (member) 12 years ago
I totally lost track of the deadline, even though I had an image. If this were my real job, I'd be a little more on the ball, but since it's not, it would help to have a "last minute warning" a day or two before the deadline, posted both here, in a separate thread, and on the main strobist page...
heh - they did.
emarc 12 years ago
A question...
One thing that I came to think about during the assignment was aspect ratio - we don't know the format of our fictive publication, but the aspect ratio of a magzine does usually not match the photo, right?
How do you handle this issue, if you know the photo is supposed to end up as a full page / cover?
Keep it in mind + experience? Let 'them' handle it?
Customized crop marks in the viewfinder? ;-)
Ted Leung PRO 12 years ago
I'd also be interested in feedback on mine:

I know I had some problems w/ matching the tungsten backlight w/ the strobe -- I need to get some gels.

Is the big shadow a problem? I liked the effect with the shadow - I had some different poses without the shadow, but I didn't like them as much.

I realize that it's hard to tell from mine that Paul is a painter standing in front of some of his work. I did have some poses that showed that aspect better, but I liked the lighting less. There's a lot to keep track of (at least for me) in these assignments.

tpuerzer - I lke the overall effect of yours, particularly that column of green in the background. I was thinking that the background should be a big part of communicating the story, So it might have been that there wasn't enough of a background there.

Scott Hargis - Aside from the elbow, I'd say that the background doesn't do enough to say something about your person. Everything about him is from what he's wearing. The background makes the picture more interesting, but it doesn't immediately add more to the "story".
Ben Syverson PRO 12 years ago
MathewS says:
heh - they did.

In this thread, but not on the main strobist page, and not here in a separate thread. It would also help to make the deadline itself more prominent in the assignment pages on the main site.

It's not a big deal, I just think it would help, since David was mentioning the lower turnout this time...
ekmai 12 years ago
Maybe i am being a dope here, but judging from the magazine stands in Hong Kong, 99% of magazines are A4 size or there abouts. I tried to make some enlargements last week (actually photos of the wife and kids inspired by strobist's use of off camera flash) and found the photo shop had to crop out some bits to fit the paper. 1st Solution: leave a white border around the photo and I'll crop it myself, which didn't work as the photo frame is a different size. Future solution: leave enough space around the main subject for cropping.
tcg3j 12 years ago
Rafa said: I think about this bootcamp as a excuse to exercise my lighting hability, "fighting" with all of you, that put the level at a higher mark that if I was traying to learn alone. Also is a fun way to spend this hot spanish summer...

Yeah, I think that's the point of what David's doing. Try new things and find out what works and what doesn't. Even if he doesn't pick your photo as one of his favorites, if you've improved, then you're still better off than you were before.

strobist PRO 12 years ago
@ All-

It's not "a cut." I am simply pulling out a group of very good examples to illustrate what some people did. I make it a point to note that there are many other very good pictures in the group.

Believe me, I wish I had the time to critique more of them...
stale rose [deleted] Posted 12 years ago. Edited by stale rose (member) 12 years ago
@ekmai: Here in the States, magazines are not A4 size. Most are about 8"x10.5" (nominally 200mm x 267mm). By contrast, A4 size is 210mm x 297mm, and the aspect ratio is slightly different. For the purposes of the assignment, though, I don't think this minor difference is going to matter.
tpuerzer 12 years ago

Here's a general question about cropping.

Is it better (in your business) to leave a lot of space around the photo to allow the designer more "room" to work / crop after the fact. Or, if you know that a photo may be used for a full-page image, should you compose for that?
strobist PRO 12 years ago

That all depends upon how much history you have with a given designer and how much control you want to give (or take away from) them.

In general, I'd say that you'd want to err on the side of flexibility, unless you have repeatedly been burned by a designer.

In this case, tho, I'd turn it in the way you think it looks best.
AndrewG-of the north 12 years ago
I had a good time with the assignment and was stunned at the great images that people produced. I tried to photograph my wife infront of a mural at her school and found that I was actually overcomplicating things. I defaulted to the KISS rule and decided to not submit the photo...

I was intrigued by emarc's question, I have been looking for a focusing screen for my Canon 20D that has crop marks on either side for the traditional 4:5 ratio, Canon does not make any (they claim that the screen is not interchangable, but there are some aftermarket manufacturers of replacement screens)...

by the way...did you guys know that all "A"series paper conforms to the same aspect ratio of (width) x( square root of 2) THAT DARN METRIC SYSTEM
Scott Hargis 12 years ago
Don't worry, Andrew -- the metric system is a fad, it will blow over soon. Just like the world cup. And the internet.
strobe_flash 12 years ago
Yeah Andrew, the only three non-metric nations are Myanma, Libea, and the US. You need to adjust to us, not the other way around :)
strobist PRO 12 years ago
My, we are in good company, aren't we,,,,
backhousestudios Posted 12 years ago. Edited by backhousestudios (member) 12 years ago
I'm just biding my time until I get to go out and shoot the next assignment. I'm having a blast! I was stupified by the great shots that this assignment produced. Yeah!

This is subtlely changing my business model. I think I'll put together a portfolio of local backgrounds (with subject in front of course) and offer one or more as a portrait package.
DmaxDoug 12 years ago
I'm a little bummed, my background submission didn't get into the pool but I have to admit I was a few minutes late, trying to use Flickr for the first time etc. David's the hardest-assed editor I've ever had. But then maybe it didn't get through to him at all. I'm still stumbling.

The biggest thing for me with Bootcamp is learning once again that there is an ocean of difference between knowledge and skill. Oh, I know HOW to light, alright. It's the actual doing of it and getting it right that takes so much practice.
jeremey 12 years ago
Hey all, I meant to post this here but forgot til now... I put my image into the ring, knowing it was late (vacation got in the way), in the hopes of thoughts and feedback... it would be great to learn from the experience even without an official entry... here's the photo:

markie_oliver 9 years ago
can anybody give a comment on my photo?
drumheller (1 of 3) by markie_oliver

scott hargis is one of my influence here, his works thought me how to use a spot meter correctly.thanks
A. Lit 9 years ago
Zombieee threaddd
alexanderGARDNER 9 years ago
It certainly messed with my head!
ajschroetlin 9 years ago
Right! What a random spot for a post! suggestion is to post it into the group photos and if you get comments, cool, if not....sorry. There are about a million groups on Flickr to get comments. :)
☣ cUKi 9 years ago
What a cold-hearted prank... I could have actually gone shooting, ya know!? Oh, man...
Sumit Samant PRO 9 years ago
Do you know... I spent ages reading through David's blog that his OP linked to, working out possibilities for a background for the next assignment... even gave a chuckle when I saw the deadline. I thought he must have been really tired to have typed '06 instead of '09.

My apologies if this was already mentioned, but, am i allowed to make a submission for Assignment 2 even though I missed the first one due to being busy with moving?
absorbed wash [deleted] 9 years ago
Yeah, you're about 3 years late though
spelunkerd Posted 9 years ago. Edited by spelunkerd (member) 9 years ago
Ha ha ha ha ha.

The way this came up on the thread made me think it was bootcamp II. But it is a great re-read, anyway! And it highlights the point that learning is a journey. After I read through, I remembered doing the assignment in 2007, a year after the assignment ended. It was an excellent experience, even though I was a year late, and I learned a ton. Makes me wanna do the same assignment again. There are lots of insightful, memorable comments, above.

There are some assignments on, as well. Just need to get the kick in the ass motivation to take on a specific task. Goal directed learning, with a deadline, brings out the best....
naw...this was at Wiz's gig last year It's is however close to what you can do

My mind is on a more complex lighting on Boot II. If I can pull it off it will show how much I can get out my head an on to the page will be a significant step for me...dam the day Job!

Funny.. I watched Dean Collins video on taking pictures in a hotel.....kinda gave me a epiphany about how to build light in a photo...back to front..but time is a premium for me so I'll end up with a dark martini glass! But I am going to try!
Holy crap! never go here first then click link back to Daves Assign#2

You will end up in the Twilight Zone LOL
Von Wong 9 years ago
Omg, I thought this was for BC2... and was off planning !

Dave can ya date the title for less confusion ?....
Holy crap. Didn't look at the date. Haha...
_Spooks_ 9 years ago
So glad I was not the only one caught out with this..... was thinking of various locations and styles lol
rudy__ Posted 9 years ago. Edited by rudy__ (member) 9 years ago
"Dave can ya date the title for less confusion ?.... "

It would be nice if all threads over a year old can have the year tacked onto the subject line. I hate when this sh*t happens. I've been sucked in too often thinking the thread was current only to find at the end that the reviving poster has only a marginal connection with the original thread's focus.

we control the vertical we control the horizontal

yep I have to admit I bump a few once in a while to bring info from the past to present so all of us don't have to repost really good topics when asked....but this got me hook, line and cactus wizard.
mind games!!!
Déjà Boo 9 years ago
I have blonde hair so this might account for my confusion. But I read this post...and then got to the "assignment due tonight" and freaked. So I went back to blog and I'm still confused. All of those assignments have 2006 dates.

Could we please have those posts back at the blogs updated with the new DUE DATES?? And perhaps a NEW discussion thread??
ecatoncheires Posted 9 years ago. Edited by ecatoncheires (member) 9 years ago
... I was caught in the 'time trap' too... I still have my mobile phone in my hand as I was about to call a friend asking him try as model for this one... then I read "posted 36 months ago"...LOL! :)
GreyTrilby 9 years ago
Just seen the time trap error - pity - had a great idea for a shoot too!
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