Hi everyone. Hope you’re having a great Holiday Season. I promised
a clarification statement on the all the lighting hoopla (in the original thread), so here it is.
I’ve been traveling like crazy spreading the gospel of glamour photography, but with the ruckus created the past photographic lighting threads that originated about a ring-flash, I feel a few folks have distorted the original thoughts of my posts and I felt an obligation to set the record straight. I think it was uncalled for when my words are taken out of context, as my posts were from this site
answering a thread here, not for another forum
where they were posted, hence a lot was lost in the interpretation and many untrue things were said.
First, my apologies to those that endured all the flames, misinformation, insults and basically un-professionalism, both on this forum and on the another forum. This post should set the record straight and I have no plans on allowing this thread to turn back into the mess of the original posts.
My original posts were about making informed purchasing decisions when it comes to photographic lighting—to encourage people to think before they buy, need verses want
, and to watch out for the marketing hype.
It’s not about the brand of lighting, it’s about using the right tool (for what you do) for the right job—period, nothing more. No flash gizmo will turn your photography into award-winning photos overnight, especially when you don’t know what the gizmo does.
I’ve been accused of stating one brand of lights will make you unprofessional—that’s hogwash and nothing further from the truth. While some clients, art directors and even photo editors will tell you perceptions are everything in the equipment we use, a 17-year-old coming in for her senior portrait would never know the difference.
Lighting alone doesn't determine a pro from a non-pro.
Any professional photographer knows you can even use a candle to light a photograph—it’s not the brand of lights used by a photographer that makes them professional, it’s a photographer's knowledge
of lighting and their use of lighting. Professional lighting includes understanding color theory as well as light theory and qualities of light
, though some photogs shrug this off, knowledge
will separate a professional photographer from all tiers including other peers.
On another forum, I was accused of being dropped
by DynaLite—far from it—I switched to Hensel by choice, it was the hardest decision I ever made. DynaLite was my first sponsor and they make a great product—leaving them was a three-month decision from the first time the owner of Hensel first asked me to switch after I spoke at Photo Plus Expo (NYC) as a Lighting Master
—it didn’t happen overnight and I’m still friends with Dyna-Lite. I’m sure anyone
sponsored by Alien Bees, even those given sponsorships because of our original thread, would drop them in a heartbeat if Profoto, Balcar, Hensel, Briese or Broncolor offered them a sponsorship. Anyone given the opportunity to drive a Chevy Nova over a Mercedes Benz or BMW for free would go for the Benz or Beamer even though all will get you from point A to B. It’s not about luxury, it’s about efficiency
I believe in loyalty (see I Am that I Am
in the articles section). I switched lighting sponsors but I was not paid to switch. I haven’t received one dime
from either company to use their lights—both companies offered me support for what I needed. I chose Hensel because they are a higher-end light, but don’t even think DynaLite is a lower-end light, far from it, Dyna-Lite is a great light and I would never hesitate to use it again.
I might add, the individual who chimed about DynaLite on another forum brought up a racist statement by mentiong some of my sponsors are German, this is not a race issue
, while I prefer American made products I will use the right tool for the right job. Perhaps he should check who made his license plates?
Germans are great and honest people and we all know that German engineering is some of the best in the world. Perhaps I'm biased because I spent three years of my life between Frankfurt and Mainz.
That individual has been banned by this forum for some time and other forums, yet he posts his laundry list of “foreign” cameras and lenses—now that’s what I like to call a hypocrite
and bringing up race is a huge sore spot with an American of Mexican/Spanish decent like me who has lived through racist remarks for 44-years. Many people question on all the forums on the Internet why less professionals participate, it’s mud-slinging
like that for one reason. What most people don’t realize, the people who make these slanderous
statements are usually the ones that have been banned from here and other forums for un-professionalism.
Now, moving on, somehow a few people turned me into an anti-Paul Buff, anti-White-Lighting, anti-Alien Bees person. Far from it. Paul himself I've never met, I'm sure he's a great person, he's obviously a great marketer and I'll reserve my judgement, as I do with all people, after I get to know them.
As I said before, I’ve never heard anything bad about Paul and his equipment is used by many, it’s just not my cup of tea, though I have issues with some of their marketing hype when they use the words like “effective watt-seconds” and label their products with numbers that are a far cry from their actual true watt-second output.
Apparently even noted photographer and industry expert Philip Greenspun
founder of Photo.net agrees, "I don't have a negative opinion about the White Lightning flashes (which I haven't used), only about their advertising. I get email from people asking "why should I pay 2X as much for a Novatron that is the same power as the White Lightning?" I think it is bad that they mislead consumers. I'm fairly convinced that the correct way to pick a strobe for 35mm use is by max power + how much you can throttle it back. It seems that you always have far too little or far too much power." (source: reply from his forum)
And in his Studio Primer
article (a great article I might add and website), he states, "Warning: there is a brand of mail-order flash called White Lightning (Paul Buff) that is sold as X watt-seconds for N dollars. These supposedly aren't such horrible flashes but the watt-seconds figures are absurd. The true output is something like X/2 in which case the monolights aren't any cheaper than other cheap brands."
Phil has a Phd from MIT where they invented (Doc Edgerton) the flash-tube! He also states, "...there is no doubt in my mind that the electronic flash has done more to ruin the average photograph than any other new technology." My perspective on this is that flash is often used improperly, hence when I teach shooting sunsets in the Virgin Islands, we don't shoot straight flash
on our subjects, otherwise you wind up with a flash picture
at sunset. I prefer, as most editors do, a photo of a model that appears
to be lit by the sunset so we use the Hensel Sunhaze attachment with Rosco Bastard Amber #2 gels.
When you walk into a photo store and you see five different brands of lights side by side and the Hensel is labeled Integra Pro Plus 500
, the Profoto is labeled Compact600
and the Dyna-Lite is labeled M500XL
and the Photogenic Solair 500WS
and the Elinchrom 400BX
, etc., etc., and they all produce the exact (at full-power) true-watt seconds as their model numbers, you see a pattern
with photographic lighting and many consumers
make purchasing decisions based on those numbers. It’s an industry standard
we’ve come to know, all the lights mentioned above will provide 500 true (not effective) watt-seconds with the exception of the Profoto which provides 600 and the Elinchrom which provides 400, as labeled.
A White Lighting X800
true watt-seconds, the WL1600
is only 660
true watt-seconds, etc., etc. with their products. Their new ringflash ABR800
is only 320
watt-seconds. Alien Bee finally eliminated the term “effective” when describing watt seconds for their newest product—I look at that as positive
direction for their products and hope they continue to go in that direction.
While some will claim watt-seconds shouldn't even be judged, that's the same as saying all car batteries are created equal--not true, while most are 12-volts, it's still about the right battery for the right vehicle. While a Chevy Kodiak truck will use a 12-volt battery it will not use the one that fits in a Ford Pinto. Again, the right tool for the right job.
I close by saying, if you like your lights, use them, practice with them and learn them, the brand
will not make you more or less professional, only proficiency
will do that. Start with one light and master it first, then move on to two or more. We all start somewhere, I started with Smith Victor hot lights and Novatrons and I can still use those as good as any other light today, however, I chose to work more efficiently
and the opportunity
makes it happen, something I’ve earned over these past 27-years as a photographer, it didn’t happen overnight.
Have a great Holiday Season, from Germany to Georgia, peace on Earth and goodwill toward all mankind! rg sends!
(Image shot with the best light ever created, and inexpensive too, sunlight! Bounced from a California Sunbounce reflector, location, Boynton Beach)