Welshot Lighting Academy Weekend – by Tracy Edwards

Every year, Welshot hosts a Lighting Academy weekend. It is designed to provide photographers with insight into a variety of lighting techniques, all of which can be achieved on a fairly modest budget. It ranges from natural light with a reflector, using speed-lights with reflectors and of course studio lighting with various modifiers.
It’s an event where the numbers are deliberately kept small to ensure delegates get the best experience and all their questions are answered and one of its’ most important objectives is to ensure that once they leave, delegates can re-create the lighting techniques they learned during the event.
Welshot is careful to consider the experience of delegates, the one I helped with is very much a beginner’s course (a mixed of beginners and advanced lighting enthusiasts would present a challenge in terms of suiting everybody). They do usually also offer an Advanced Lighting Weekend with Will Cheung, so this may be also be one to consider if you have more experience of lighting techniques.
I was lucky enough to support Eifion in February of this year on this event, and the small but perfectly formed group of Sue, Gillian, Rob and Matt were all at a similar stage in their learning, the weekend was a good mix of theory and hands on experience, here are just some of the topics which were covered:
• Continuous lighting
• Speed-lights
• Studio Lights, the merits of budget v expensive kits
• The use of different lighting modifiers, how they can be used and the effects they produce
• Photographing models using studio lighting, single light and then multiple lights, gels etc.
• Natural light and reflectors
• Off Camera Flash (OCF) technique, the anatomy of a speed-light, balancing flash with ambient light, metering, and of course, making more creative off camera flash images
On day one, delegates worked with Colin who was a first-time model for Welshot. A more mature model who hadn’t been in front of a camera, he was fun to work with and the delegates made some great images using some of the techniques they had covered.
Day two saw more focus on OCF, following which Nadine and the delegates put into practice more learning with support from Eifion and me. However, the afternoon was given over to allowing delegates to create to their hearts content. A wide variety of lighting kit was made available for use and Nadine and Rocky were patient models, working hard with the delegates.

There were two moments which stick in my mind from this weekend, the first was when I overheard Rob telling Eifion (who is patient and explains everything in simple terms to aid understanding) that he’d had a ‘penny drop’ moment in respect of OCF and the other was when Matt, at the end of the weekend, said ‘you have de-mystified off camera flash and I’d now have the confidence to take a model and do a shoot on my own’
I’d call that a successful event…wouldn’t you?
P.S. I have heard there are plans for another, keep your eye on the Welshot Forum for details.

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