The very first time I fell in love with lighting
I was going through some old files today — pictures, random inspirations, essays, unfinished ideas. I especially loved looking at my high school work. I never before had appreciated my freshman english teacher teaching us vocabulary words like “loquacious” and “meandering,” or realized the liberty my TV production teacher gave us in doing whatever the heck we felt creatively led to do!
About five years ago, I went on a mini-vacation of sorts to a beach house in Fort Myers with a family friend of ours. I remember she owned a Nikon D80, and had just bought a SB-600 Speedlight Flash. Naturally, I was intrigued. What’s funny is that she only ever used it on the hot shoe (on top of the camera), but being recently fascinated with David Hobby’s Strobist website, I knew that there was more to be explored. I Googled ways to trigger the flash off-camera, and I was fortunate enough to find out that her type of camera had a built-in wireless transmitter.
I pushed a few buttons on the camera. Nothing.
I messed around with the flash. Nothing.
I read and reread instructions online. Nothing.
Finally, I did something in the options I hadn’t done before, held up the flash with one hand — directly behind my head — and pressed the shutter button of the camera that was on a tripod with my other hand.
I got this:
When I came across this picture again today, the memory of that moment was exceptionally vivid. I remember looking at that camera screen and I seeing vibrancy and depth; the harsh backlight created this beautiful separation between myself, the subject, and the dark, empty room. Because the flash was on full-blast, the light bounced all around me, illuminating even my face. “How beautiful the attention to detail in the little dust particles floating around,” I thought, when I zoomed in.
There was no editing done to this at all. My facial reaction wasn’t a trying-to-be-serious-professional pose, it was a I-have-no-clue-what-I’m-doing pose. But I loved it all! The frame seemed more like an extract from a Bourne film rather than a selfie from a teenager’s basement. I had the power, with what was in my hands, to create visual worlds, separate from the current, bland reality I was living in. It was as if someone had unraveled a part of capturing the world through a lens I never knew existed.
Oh, the awe.
I wish I could go back in time, honestly, just to feel the same way I felt again. That moment alone probably, consciously or subconsciously, changed the art I enjoyed, the films I’d watch, the activities I’d do, the next semester’s classes I’d take, the college I’d go to, the career path I’d choose, and inadvertently, where I’d geographically live and the lifestyle I would maintain for the rest of my life.
It’s funny how small things can change everything, huh?