Chances are, if you’ve picked up a camera with any sort of artistic intent over the past 8 years, you’ve followed a sort of rubric for new photographers – especially in the digital age. It often goes something along the lines of 1) Buy a DSLR (with kit lenses) and get some nice shots and good feedback 2) Discover the importance and meaning of ‘fast’ lens and become obsessed with any aperture beginning in ‘1’ 3) EVERY photo must have severe defocus 4) Get a bit bored 5) Discover off-camera flash – and it’s at this point when the name David Hobby and ‘Strobist’ are often found.
Strobist has become a byword in our industry for anything flash related and for good reason. Hobby has created a venerable bible of lighting information and given it to us for free. The concept was simply to acquaint photographers with the intimidating world of lighting, but showing them all about the equipment and how to use it. Strobist modules 101 and 102 are incredible resources and the community built around them is so vast and loyal, and hungry, that many have been expecting 103. But it’s not coming, according to Hobby,
Lighting 103? There is no Lighting 103. That’s like saying, ‘When do we get to learn more of the alphabet,’ when what you really need to do is to figure out what you want to say and start writing with the 26 letters you already know. ‘When are we going to learn more about hammers?’ You know plenty about hammers. Hit the nail straight. Don’t hit your thumb. Now build something.
Where many expected 103 to be, will be found the next module, Ecosystems 101, and it sounds like the most important of them all. It surpasses the ‘how’ of lighting and delves into the ‘why’ and ‘what.’ There are currently 8 sections of E101 in its current incarnation, which Hobby says, will evolve.
But what? And why? These are both more important than the “how” part. The how is easy, and by definition usually comes first. But without the why, the how, meaningless.…for those who want to try to nurture a more purposeful life as a photographer, Ecosystems 101 will try to spark that discussion. If Lighting 101 is the how, the E101 is the what, and the why.
This, in my view, is one of the most important pieces of photographic news I’ve seen in ages. It’s years worth of information and experience distilled into a wise vintage. The thing is though, that wisdom is so difficult to teach. Almost like dealing with a 17 year old whom you can’t really get to see common sense, I know a lot of photographers, young and old, will likely bypass this resource, or spend what I feel is an inadequate amount of time with it.
It’s so easy for us to get caught up in the technical execution of the craft, nailing certain looks, building deftness with our gear, that there is such a vacuum of meaningful material. If you take the time to really read and dissect what and how E101 is written, you’ll see it’s written with great perspective and passion. I would be remiss not to mention that I’ve not really used Strobist much for my own purposes, but it’s always been a resource I send others to who want to dive into lighting. Now though, I’ll be heading there myself.