I am Glam. Glam I am.

Arizona-based photographer Don Giannatti has produced a multimedia DVD entitled, "Lighting Essentials 1".

Basically, he shows you how to make the lighting version of stone soup out of a couple of Home Depot work lights, some translucent material and some foam core boards. He moves to speedlights and bigger strobes, but the reflective and diffusion techniques are pretty much universal.

If you are into shooting models' headshots, senior portraits or anything of that ilk - or aspire to be - this would get you well on your way to being able to make some very cool-looking people shots on an utterly draconian budget.

He's talking under $100.

You're using the foam core to turn the small hot lights (or a speedlight) into a huge bee-yu-tee-ful light source - the kind that spackles over the wrinkles and hides the zits before you even open the portrait in Photoshop.

The scope of the material is centered around that classic, soft, "glam" lighting.

You basement portrait shooters would do well to get some big sheets of foam core and learn how to use them. Yeah, they're big. But they are thin and you can store them under your bed. Foam core really can do neat stuff.

Don also shows you some good Photoshop techniques and gets into Photoshop actions, too.

As for the DVD itself, it's a browser-based maze of short movies, j-pegs and tutorials. There are also folders filled with extras such as fonts and Photoshop actions.

The movies gave my browser fits. But then my computer is so old you start it with a crank in the front. When I just opened the folders and dragged the movies into my Quicktime viewer, they worked fine.

The QT movies are a low-budget, camcorder-on-auto-exposure affair. Lighting-wise, they do not do the final stills justice.

But that's not the point. The main takeaways from the DVD are (a) that you can do some very Hollywood-looking stuff right out of the electrical aisle at Home Depot, and (b) that foam core, properly placed, can work lighting magic.

He gives seminars out in sunny (but beautifully fill-lit) Arizona, and these lessons are taken right from those seminars. For people looking to move into the glam lighting scene, the principles are sound to teach you to create that beautiful, wraparound lighting that can pay the bills.

Just be ready to bail on the browser interface and explore the movies manually if you need to.

:: Don's main site ::

:: Lighting Essentials 1 page ::


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