This is my first review of CreativeLive Photography Course or any photographic theme in general, so please be kind if I make a few mistakes along the way, I will try to get better and better in time. I have started watching the amazing CreativeLive Photography courses and tutorials several years ago and although I did not have the budget to buy them at that moment, I got hooked on the exquisite education possibilities they provide. Every major sale they have, I buy one or two courses and classes just to keep for the cold off-season winter months. This is usually the time I try to learn and exercise new things, or at least re-freshen some of the photography topics I do not quite completely grasp yet…and there are a few. Probably the most important topic I wish I knew better is light and it is an essential element of both wedding and travel photography. Although I am starting to get better at it, I never fully understood light and how you can see it and shape it according to your creative vision.
I watched another course taught by Roberto Valenzuela a few years ago and to my regret, I had never heard of him. As I learned, he is one of the best and most successful event and portrait photographers in the US and even the world. The course was more about posing and composition, but also touched lighting, but this Picture Perfect Lighting course is truly an in-depth view of lighting in photography and all things related. First of all, to start this review of CreativeLive Photography course, I have to say I like Roberto’s teaching style and approach, using a lot of real examples and without too much emphasis on technical aspects. It follows a straightforward keynote, revealing his secrets and way he learned and thinks constantly about light, even when he isn’t shooting. He uses simple words and sometimes even makes you smile with his Latin accent and jokes.
The first chapter of the photography course is a sort of introduction, starting with the 3 basic types of light, the ambient light and the way it interacts with the environment, the light that you can use to influence the scene and the hypothetical light that is only controlled by the user. He then continues with types of light behavior, from the angle of incidence to the inverse square law o light and others. This is extremely well explained and exemplified. One of the lessons that I would have liked to be more detailed was the one about the things he looks for in a location, mostly in relation to light. Although these ten things are pretty interesting and amazing, I would have liked a few real life examples of him entering a totally new environment and explaining how he sees and thinks. There is also a little segment about how to analyze a scene or situation and spot the advantages and weaknesses, the opportunities and the threats.
The second chapter of the Picture Perfect Lighting Photography course deals with speed-lights, one of the most useful tools, but also one of the hardest to understand and master for many photographers. As this is just a review of CreativeLive Photography course, I will not enter in the technical aspects and what Roberto teaches, but his method seems pretty simple, with hand-on examples. It shows the differences between using TTL and manual mode of a speed-light, when you could use one and when the other. The lessons come in natural order and everything seems very clear, too bad that during the heat of the moment, especially in event photography, we loose track of what we learn. One thing that has resonated with me is a phrase Roberto says during the flash technique application: Why not use the speed-lights to compliment beautiful natural light, making the photo much more interesting and in-camera ready…
He demonstrates a lot of cool and creative flash usage examples with beautiful photographs and shoots. The live indoor shoot is really insightful, as he builds on all the previous elements to create amazing portraits in a simple way. In incremental steps, he steps up from no light, to on-camera flash to more flashes and light modifiers to create the perfect look. The most exceptional example though came from the indoor lighting part of the course, where Roberto took nice frames and transformed them into sensational ones just by using simple lighting setups that anyone could master. I really learned a lot from the subject and ambient light balance lesson, where he uses light reference points to match everything and create the desired atmosphere.
The last section of the Picture Perfect Lighting course on CreativeLive is mostly about lighting receptions and how Roberto uses the least amount of equipment possible to achieve great results most of the time. Of course, this is one of those subjects where things can vary greatly depending on each venue and location. But keeping in mind a few tips and pieces of information, anyone can get more out of their photography I this type of situation. In the end, there is a critique section on various photographs and what photographers could have done to improve the final result.
In conclusion of this small review of CreativeLive Photography Course, if you wish to greatly improve your photography skills and mainly your comprehension and grasp of light and lighting, this is a great resource. It works great for people who know a thing or two about photography and technical stuff, maybe not so much for total beginners. It is also worthwhile for photographers who mostly use natural light and are afraid of spicing things up with artificial light. There’s a great amount of tiny pieces of advice and amazing tricks to learn by carefully watching and practicing what Roberto Valenzuela teaches in this course. Overall, I would probably give it a 9/10!
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