Last October-November, I had the chance to take Frank Jackson’s Black and White photography workshop at Samy’s Camera on Fairfax in Los Angeles. It was a workshop to remember. The first night we met, Frank Jackson left an indelible impression.
A self taught professional photographer, Frank knows everything there is to know about the craft of photography. Whatever he told us, it was like drops of gold essence distilled from years of experience. His mantra and emphasis in the class was knowing lighting and correct exposure like the back of your hand. After all, the word “photography” is derived from the Greek word: φωτός (phōtos) “light” γραφή (graphé) “drawing” , meaning “drawing with light”.
Frank showed us how to use available light and simple source light, like a house lamp, without the need to buy any equipment. He gave us exercises that didn’t require a studio facility. For homework, we could shoot anything keeping in mind of what he taught us, including applying it to street photography.
To balance the course out, Frank brought in a couple models so we could shoot with a single source umbrella reflector lighting and the use of textured fabric backdrop.
Finally, he insisted that we make large prints of some of our photographs so we can see the tangible results. Can you imagine? I had never printed any of my digital photographs on paper, ever. I learnt in a big hurry what often looks good on a computer screen, when printed, digital artifacts appear. And it looked like Sh@%! I had to rework my images to make sure there was no noise and pixeling.
Throughout the duration of the class, Frank gave us tips and advice on lighting and photography. Wasting no moment.
The only complaint I have is that there was no time left to print the photographs for half of the class attendees. Me included. So there was no group feedback which Frank intended to have in a little “end-of-class exhibit”. It was because Samy’s printer was in the same room as the Lightroom course was being held. Bad logistics on Samy’s part.
Despite the tiny glitch, I learnt one of the most valuable lessons that changed the way I look at photos forever. Since then, I think about how light affects my shots. If you look at my previous photos in my old blog, Wandering Lulu, most of the photographs paid no attention to lighting at all. I was busy just trying to capture the motion. I still don’t always get it right. And I am learning and getting use to the idea of exposure and manual photography to control the light. But it all started with Frank Jackson. Thanks Frank!
I highly recommend this course to anyone, especially street photographers, who want to strengthen their photographic foundation skills. You can look up Frank Jackson’s website and Samy’s class schedule here: Frank Jackson, Samy’s Camera
(Above) I shot it while walking on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, CA..
Sunlight between high-rises in San Francisco.
Sunlight reflected from a glass high-rise behind me in San Francisco.
This same location in color for comparison. Cool light.
Sunlight filtering through leaves in San Francisco.
This mortar and pestal was taken with a single household light bulb.
Studio fluorescent lights with umbrella reflector. (Model April Mercedes-Hart Garcia)
Studio fluorescent lights with umbrella reflector