Riley J.B. - Photographer


Calgary photographer, Riley JB, writes essays, photo stories, reviews & tutorials in his photographic Journal.

Strobing:: David Hobby Would Punch Me in My Face

My Dad turned 60 years old last week. I went to my parents' house and brought with my my gear and my speedlights, light stands, modifiers... I am not a portrait shooter by any means but I bought all this stuff years ago after reading the Strobist® website.

My Dad is not one to have his photo taken. In fact none of the older generation in my family or my wife like having their photo taken. That is probably a reason why I am not into portraiture that much.

Anyways, I wanted to make a portrait of my Dad on his 60th Birthday in front of a plain black background.

I get everything set up and go to hook up my Cybersyncs annnnnnnd.. I brought the wrong sync cord to plug them into my speedlite. I looked at my feet hoping they would give me an answer. When I looked up I could see the ghost of David Hobby*. He shook his head at me and walked away.

*David Hobby is the creator of the Strobist® photography blog and I know he is currently alive and wouldn't have a ghost. Plus I am an atheist and don't believe in ghosts.

I was defeated for a minute or so as I stood with my hands on my hips. I surveyed the situation and got it back together.. Old floor lamp.. check. Construction light.. check. Cardboard box lid gobo.. check check.

If I was to give anyone portrait advice it would be "Give your subject a few drinks before."

With my sister assisting me by moving the light I started taking some shots. After a few tests I got what I wanted. A dramatically lit photo. A little hint of light spilling onto his left eye.

At the time I was really wishing I had a rim light to separate him from the background. But then I remembered I am not one for photography rules. I think those with their Masters Degree in Photography can worry about the rules of photography.

I am glad I did not throw in the towel and pressed on with an impromptu portrait session.. I had everyone at the party come downstairs and take a turn in the hot seat. I finally have some photos of people who always turn away at the sight of a camera.

So here he is, my Dad at 60.. which he tells me is the new 40.