john cornicello

Lighting demos with Better Together Seattle

Last night I had the honor and pleasure to be invited to the Better Together Seattle photography group's Flash Night at Bandia Rua Studios. This is a great group of pro and aspiring pro photographers getting together to help each other out. They talk business, technique, and other issues.

For Flash Night they initially asked me to come and show my "event photography" setup, but that isn't my main area of photography, so I also brought some studio lights for folks to try out.

I'll start by talking about the event rig, though. Very basic. It consists of a Black Rapid Double strap with my camera on one side and my flash on the other. The flash has a large Rogue Flash Bender with diffuser. The flash is connected to the camera with an off-shoe flash cord. That allows me to hold the camera in one hand and the flash in the other and move the flash around to where I want it. The Double Strap lets me carry both at my side when not photographing and is more comfortable/balanced that having a regular single strap.

But now for the fun. Those that know me well know I do not like camera flashes. Too fidgety, battery issues, small buttons, too many options and things to go wrong. So give me  a studio setup, please! This matches my philosophy about a number of things. I don't like to go out hunting for photographs. I like having a stationary set up where people come to me. That way I don't miss anything chasing down other things.

So, I brought a small studio strobe, a Westcott Apollo Orb, a fold up reflector, and a couple of light stands (I still like to travel light when I can). I used one of the studio's backdrops and I set it all up to take a few headshots and to let others give it  a try. The following image shows three of those photos along with two images created on another set from the fine folks at Bandia Rua  (more about that after the photo).


Bandia Rua Studio is a new studio in Seattle that is available for rental. They have a great space with lighting and grip equipment and props available additionally. The two images of the woman holding the wine glass were created using the studio's equipment, in this case a large backdrop, a Prophoto strobe, and a large softbox.

Below are some images taken at the event by other photographers.

Alice Gines was kind enough to take a photo of the Orb set up and allowed me to include it here in this blog post.

Alice Gines was kind enough to take a photo of the Orb set up and allowed me to include it here in this blog post.

Brent Smith got this photo of me working in the headshot setup. Thanks, Brent!

Brent Smith got this photo of me working in the headshot setup. Thanks, Brent!

Farzad Khosrownia took this photo of the setup.

Farzad Khosrownia took this photo of the setup.

On the other side of the camera

A few days ago I got a message on Facebook from Matt Leitholt introducing himself... 

Hey John, I am a young photographer that has been following CreativeLIVE for a while and I'd like to get lunch with you sometime in the next few days.
I'd also love to photograph you for a personal project I'm doing of well known people.
Check out my site to see some of the other big time photographers like Joe McNally, David duChemin, and Peter Hurley at

Photo © copyright by Matt Leitholt

Photo © copyright by Matt Leitholt

How could I refuse? Even before looking at his great photos of other photographers I was in for it. We arranged to meet up for lunch today (Saturday) at Blue Moon Burgers in Fremont. We talked about some of the photographers Matt has met and worked with. Then we chatted about creativeLIVE and Matt's interest in landscape photography.

From Blue Moon, we headed over to my house to meet my wife, Kim, and talk about the photo Matt wanted to create. I grabbed one of the "do-rag" head scarfs that people are used to seeing me wear on creativeLIVE and Matt asked me to grab my Deardorff view camera and a tripod. Then we jumped into the car to go to Gasworks Park.

There we climbed up the kite hill for the downtown view from the sun dial (aside: Seattle seems to have quite a number of sun dials for a place known for being overcast and rainy). I'm sure it was quite entertaining to other folks there to have us show up with the view camera and a set of studio strobes (a small Chimera box for the back/rim light and a Photek Softlighter II for the main light). We invited a young spectator to help hold one of the light stands in case the winds picked up. Kim stood watch over the other light. But the weather held up and no lights were blown away.

I don't see it in the photo, but a young boy near us was exclaiming to his folks that he just saw a shark in the water. I'll have to go back and see if I can spot that shark another day.

We quickly got set up and Matt was very fast at getting me posed and making the photo. It was quite painless being on the other side of the camera. Thanks, Matt!

One of the most surprising things I learned during all of this is that Matt is only 20 years old. He has a great understanding of the process of photography and a great way of working with people. I expect to see a lot of great things from Matt.

I'm also quite humbled to be included with the other photographers in his project, such as David DuChemin, Art Wolfe, Peter Hurley, Joe McNally, and Jeremy Cowart. One person missing from the list, though, that Matt would really like to photograph is Chase Jarvis. Chase, if you are by any chance reading this, please let me set up an introduction.

I was there as the subject this time, without a "regular" camera. But I did manage to take an iPhone photo of Matt taking my photo..


Check out Matt's blog post about the afternoon, too.

John Cornicello