A typical studio set up at the course, using hair lights, umberellas and reflectors.
Sponsored by Elinchrom, Portrait Lighting Courses are run by Chris Burfoot in association with the Flash Centre, the UK's leading studio lighting specialist that have been trading for over 25 years.
Chris is a professional wedding and portrait photographer who runs his own business, Pembroke Photography , alongside his wife Pam in Chippenham, Wiltshire. As well as holding various courses for the Flash Centre, he regularly runs seminars for the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) and the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP) on studio lighting techniques. He is an associate member of the Master Photographers Association (MPA) and of the SWPP.
Studio Lighting for Beginners lasts for two days, from 10:00 until 5:30, during which you can expect to cover the basics of studio flash photography and studio lighting techniques. It is held in a 16th Century Barn in the village of Lacock, Wiltshire, which is owned entirely by the National Trust and, interestingly, was the home of early photographic pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot. It is also the setting for the BBC's Pride and Prejudice films, and The Cranford Chronicles based on novels by Elizabeth Gaskell, which was in the midst of being filmed during my visit.
Models are provided during the course of the tutorials.
Diary of events
During the first morning we were taught of the basic principles of studio lighting, covering such topics as the disadvantages of tungsten lighting, an overview of flash head controls, different types of accessories and the best ways to photograph a model, as well as how meter readings are used to get the best possible result from your photography.
In the afternoon session, Chris demonstrated how to create set ups sucessfully using hair lights, various backgrounds and a number of accessories such as snoots, honeycomb grids, umberellas, reflectors and filters. On the Sunday we were shown how to create other effects such as butterfly lighting, using tools such as softboxes, triflectors and were divided into two groups in order to recreate the studio set-ups we had learnt the previous day. That afternoon we had a small child as our model, using a full length white background as our backdrop, and were shown how to light this effectively. To end the day Chris demonstrated how to make the best of wet wedding photography by balancing flash and daylight. Each member of the course were all then given a certificate to confirm their sucessful completion of the TFC Studio Lighting Course, bringing the weekend to a close.
On this particular weekend there were 15 delegates on the course, which is about average for a course of this type. Members of the group were attending for a variety of different reasons. Carol Smith, 61, is a student at Pershore College whose secondary hobby to horticulture is photography.
On the second day, the group were left to work independently, recreating the set ups they had been taught the day before.
She is considering investing in studio equipment and possibly make a career from it, and is hoping that the course will give her a good head start on the subject of studio lighting. Alison Richards, 40, is a full time mum hoping to embark on a career in portraiture when her youngest child starts school in September. Alan Whyte, 41, is a media technician at a school whose works with music, video and photography involves a lot of lighting. He is hoping that the course will teach him how to use them properly. Roger Griffiths, 57, is retired and would like to gain the knowledge and confidence to become a semi-professional photographer.
As a tutor, Chris Burfoot combines knowledge and experience with the ability to teach, explaining the many aspects of studio lighting clearly and concisely. Everything taught over the two days was also provided in a booklet. The content of the course was well-paced and comprehensive, covering a wide range of information. The atmospehere was welcoming and friendly and the course structure informal and relaxed. There is plenty of scope for questions throughout the day should you wish to raise one. Delegates range in age and interests, but everyone I spoke to said that they enjoyed the course and felt like they had learnt a lot from the experience. I also felt that I had learnt a lot about studio lighting, and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in learning about the subject.
Courses cost £195 (not including accomodation) with a maximum of 15 people on each course. The price is not inclusive of accomodation but there are refreshments available all day and lunch is provided by nearby hotel the Red Lion. For further information and to book your place visit the Flash Centre website or email Pam Burfoot.
All images in this review were taken using the Canon EOS 400D.
Studio Lighting for Beginners workshop, 28th and 19th April, 2007.