Photographs and Information about Taiwan's Culture, Nature and People by Rich Matheson

Lighting Workshop at Spotlight Studios

I attended an awesome lighting workshop at Spotlight Studio in Taichung a while back and have been trying to find some time to write about it and post some of the pics. The workshop was run by Henry Westheim, an accomplished professional photographer in Taiwan, a great speaker and a man who has a wealth of knowledge about everything to do with photography. More importantly, he is one of those people who is willing to share everything he knows, replete with his colorful New York interjections to make it more interesting.We began with a classroom session wherein Henry covered the basics of lighting (there were a broad range of students) and then on to some more in-depth lighting skills.

Everything we learned could also be learned from some great sites on the internet like the Strobist, but it was particularly gratifying to get the hands-on and instant feedback from a teacher. One of the interesting things I learned was to wear dark clothing on a shoot so you aren’t reflecting unwanted light. I’d never thought about nor seen/read this anywhere else. This could be equally applicable for ambient light photography; I like to get in close for portraits and I’m often reflected in my subjects eyeballs, coordinating my clothing color with my background would lessen this effect. Conversely, use white clothed people as reflectors, pop your flash off them or use them to reflect light back into your subject in a pinch.  Preferably with their consent. I also enjoyed hearing about Henry’s assignments. Like one high pressure commission to take a photo of Ma Ying-jeou, and some on-sight hurdles he had to work around to get a good shot of the president.The second part was all hands-on in Henry’s beautifully equipped Spotlight Studio and the equally beautiful model Claire. Even more gratifying than the huge beauty dish, industry standard Pocket Wizard’s and powerful strobes was the professional model. Working with a model so at ease with being photographed by a horde of photogs, who moved so well, and who was so sexy, was refreshing. Really, it would have been hard not to get great photos.

Henry began the course with an oft heard photographers quote, ‘The only people who don’t light are those that don’t know how’. I’m an ambient light guy, the photography I like can — for the most part — be done with existing light and good technique. That said, I bought an umbrella and stand that I found in a second-hand store, rigged it for my flash and took it on assignment with me to Sandimen.

Not stunning lighting (Henry didn’t teach us any product lighting and I had only a single light and reflector) but it certainly added a nice dimension to my submission. Pictured here are Dragonfly Bead Art Studio’s spoon and fork set and a beautiful traditional Aboriginal bead necklace. Would have looked nice on Claire.


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