Ed, when I first approached you about this project I really couldn't put any level of expectation on the result. There really is no way to judge how something will evolve once it is put into play. There is also no way for someone with very little portrait experience like myself to comprehend to what level a challenge
like this can reach. Needless to say, I am not
disappointed, not in this challenge, not in the way you stepped up to the challenge of leading this exercise and definitely not in your delivery of a lesson that far surpasses anyone's expectations.
I don't consider myself a novice but I know I have a lot to learn. I have my passion in what I do and I can do it well enough. Enough to get paid at least
. But I also know my limitations. Personally, I don't have a desire to become a portrait photographer but, as in any field, having a well rounded education can only be of benefit. As an instructor, that is another story. I am being pulled into expanding my knowledge because my students are seeking that knowledge themselves. So that is a motivator for me. So what does this have to do with these challenges?
I look forward to any event where I can expand my knowledge. Specially something that is interactive as opposed to the sedentary action of learning from YouTube videos. I know I can't be the only one that feels this way. That is why these forums are so popular with so many photographers, many of them beginners, because of the invaluable feedback one can get for their efforts.
So here is my takeaway from this first (of hopefully many) challenge. Part of the learning process, no matter what you are learning, requires a certain level of standardized and carefully packaged steps
in order to build a foundation for more subtle and finessed skills. Trigonometry would be a jumble of numbers and letters without a foundation in math basics. Carpentry would be a series of painful accidents and expensive failures without an basic understanding of tool use. "______" would be a failure without the basics of "_______". You get the picture. Part of that foundation is learning the vocabulary of the field of study. Knowing what things are properly called facilitates understanding. Imagine having a conversation where the major key words are replaced with such vocabulary as, "doohickie, thingamabob, whatchamacallit" or "that flashy thing." What a long conversation that would be.
Fortunately for me I have a basic knowledge of portrait lighting. When someone says "loop" lighting, I know what that means. I understand the fundamentals of how to create loop lighting. I may not have the technical skills to create it perfectly in a real world scenario but I can follow the conversation. Recognizing the type of lighting used in a photo is the bigger challenge and it's a game I play with myself when looking at portraits. This is "Rembrandt", this is "Butterfly" or "Clamshell" lighting, or whatever I can easily identify. But not all lighting scenarios are easy textbook
setups. Specially when done by a master photographer that has acquired the finesse in handling portrait lighting like Ed.
Yes, I know what "loop" lighting is... when I can recognize it. But who knew there were derivatives of loop lighting? Or that it can have such vastly different looks in relation to the camera?
So I have now added a new term to my thesaurus, along with a new understanding of portrait lighting. Will I be able to recognize it again if I was asked? Probably not yet, but i am hoping that some day I will. For now, I thank you, Ed, for expanding my knowledge and I look forward to learning so much more.