Monday, 6 June 2011

Training with Lencarta and Jonathan Ryan

Last Sunday saw a drive up to Maidstone for the day to take part in training arranged by Lencarta. For those of you who are not familiar with the name, they are the supplier of both mains and battery powered studio lighting equipment. They also have a vast array of light modifiers and accessories at very competitive prices.
Lencarta arrange training days throughout the year for those interested in  having some hands on experience with the equipment. 

On arrival we were greeted by Jonathan Ryan. Based in Canterbury, he is a highly proficient photographer who has created some stunning work.  I recommend you check out his blog and Flickr Stream.

We had just enough time to grab a coffee, before the fire alarm went off.  Imagine ten photographers standing outside with several thousand pounds worth of camera gear half hoping that it is not a false alarm, and wondering who is going to get their images to the press first. 

False alarm over, and back to the course. The morning begins with a general discussion, and some images on the big screen describing various aspects of photography and lighting. We then move on to studio lighting  101, describing the type of stands, heads, modifiers and basic controls.

It was about now that our model for the day, Claire and our make up artist, Holly, turned up.  After introductions, Claire was seated against a white background to demonstrate what Jonathan called 'beige lighting'  Using a single light with a softbox he demonstrated how the angle of lighting will affect the subject and the background.

We then moved on to the use of beauty dishes, and background illumination  and were given the opportunity to try out the lighting set up for ourselves briefly.

After lunch, we were split into three groups of three and given a specific assignment. My group had the task of shooting Claire for a commercial 'businesswoman of the year' image. We were given twenty minutes to set up and shoot from scratch. Following groups were given black back ground and hi key background scenarios, again against the clock.

Jonathans style of teaching was never dull, all of us were humiliated, and had the mickey taken out of us, but it was  all very much tongue in cheek (well I hope it was) and was all part of the fun of the day.

A wind up chat and packing away the kit ended the day off at about 5.30.

In conclusion, was it worth it?  Yes, but not in the way I thought it would be. I already own a couple of Lencarta strobes and various light modifiers so I was fairly conversant with the practicalities of the lights. What it did do for me, was to allow me to try out some of the items I had considered purchasing, and now will. Plus it  gave me other areas and ideas that I had not considered before. I also came away with far more information talking to both Jonathan, Claire and Holly about the business aspects and the logistics of arranging shoots.  The afternoons assignments against the clock only proved one thing - that if you have three photographers working as a team with 18 minutes to set it all up, the chances are you will fail. The only thing I learnt from that... I want to be in charge if it were the real world!

Training is important to us all, regardless of our skill level.  Meeting like-minded people, swapping ideas helps us to grow, so I would thoroughly recommend any training, and the Lencarta day was great fun and great value for money.
At the time of writing, Lencarta seem to be having significant issues with their web site. It seems to be an ongoing problem.

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