Sunday, August 28, 2011

GAS and Homemade Equipment

Zack Arias often mentions something called "GAS", or Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I had that. I think everyone does at some point in their lives. I was convinced I needed a handheld softbox for my flash instead of using it bare bulb. McNally's got a few, Hobby's got a few, why not me?

I was lent a Lumiquest Softbox-III for my own graduation, which I found to be an unwieldy, socially-awkward thing. I used it at every opportunity, blind to the fact that it was not appropriate for every situation. The fact that I had it meant that I would use it non-stop. It lead to some good pictures, to be sure, but many more that could have been improved if I had just used less equipment.

I didn't realize this at the time, so when I was bored this summer I decided to construct my own using Coroplast, gaff tape, Velcro, and a clear plastic sheet cut from an envelope. A few days later, it was complete, but it didn't give me the results I wanted it to. I further modified it, and it still didn't. Twenty dollars in materials taught me that spending more money sometimes is just better than DIY shit. I paid the noob tax, if you will.

I learned something extremely valuable from Neil van Neikerk, which was how to use the environment around me, rather than to make the environment my bitch with f/stops, flash, and softboxes. Bouncing flash off side walls was a revolution to me, as I had only known ceiling bounce, and had considered it to be inferior to taking the flash off-camera, which turned out to not be entirely true, at least when shooting events. Now, I think my mind's cleared a bit from that "more is better" stuff. Sure, in many cases, an umbrella on a stick would be awesome, but I don't need it, at least, not yet. Better to worry about how my subject looks rather than how she's lit.

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