Saturday, 7 March 2009

DVD: Location Lighting with Drew Gardner

In my recent Focus On Imaging post, I mentioned catching up with fellow photographer Drew Gardner, and that I bought a copy of his new DVD.

Well, I've finally had a chance to watch it, and would like to share a few thoughts. This is by no means a review or a critique - merely a reflection on what I saw, which should serve as information for anyone interested in Drew's work or who is thinking about getting a copy for themselves.

First of all, it's important that you know something, as if it isn't obvious in other posts I've written: I am passionate about photography. I also have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. And I never get tired of seeing 'behind the scenes' footage showing other photographers (and creatives) at work.

A pleasant surprise here was that not only do viewers get to see actual shoots unfolding, but Drew then goes on to explain the lighting details (both 'how' and 'why') for each of the shoots covered. As an added bonus, he also shares his post production technique, too - something I really wasn't expecting. So as you can imagine, as far as my criteria were concerned, all boxes ticked.

I think one of the things that really comes accross in the DVD is how very open and honest Drew's approach is. A great many of these DVDs are often 'polished' so as to somehow keep up apearances; not so with this one, and it shows all the good bits, not so good bits, warts and all as the shoots progress. And he doesn't take himself too seriously either, which is definitely a good thing ("If I had hair, I'd pull it out!").

As a photographer, there are many 'nuggets' of information which I would gladly endorse here. For example: the emphasis on advance planning and being in a good frame of mind ahead of a shoot, the fact that pictures should not rely on post production for their success (get it done in camera, at the time!), and that good communication is also essential to the success of a shoot. Photography is all about the moment, but we are reminded that often these moments need to be crafted and built up one element at a time, such as with lighting.

If you are now intrigued, why not check out the teaser which Drew posted on his blog a little while ago here.

Of course, if you have already seen the DVD, let me know what you thought - it's always nice to get another perspective.

Any thoughts or questions - please hit the Comment link below.


Pete Tiley / Titan Images said...

Looks like a worthwhile watch. Have been watching a couple of strobist DVDs on and off....

Drew is one clever guy however.

Anonymous said...

If you've been watching strobist DVD and others such as Zack Arias, then you're likely to find Drew's DVD is "pants" in comparison, no offence.

I bought it from the flash centre website directly, paid £7.71 delivery (inc vat) by city link courier (cheapest option available). The next morning Royal Mail postman knocked on my door demanding a signature for first class recorded, how much was the postage? A whooping £1.43!

Speaking of the content itself, two location shoots, nothing else, very lack of technical details, more like a commercial for Elinchrom ranger pack. One thing I did walk away with was "to set up lights one at a time", which most shooters do anyway.

The so called post production is a joke. Drew merely points out what needs to change on a photo, next thing you see, all changes miraculously show up, job done! ... what on earth???

If you would like to really learn about photography and location lighting, go for strobist and Zack Arias's onelight workshop DVD. Stay away from this one.

Drew, if you ever come across this, and you genuinely want to share your technique and knowledge with young photographers, show it, this is not it, far from it actually.

Strobist and Zack's DVD might cost more, but they are worth every penny. You get what you pay for, but I'm afraid in this case, you don't. For £27.71, you can pick up two films and study cinematography lighting, and they provide much better entertainment value, too.

It is not worth your money nor your time.

Giles said...

Thanks both for your comments...

Pete - I still maintain, having followed you/your blog for some time, that you would find Drew's DVD of interest.

Anonymous - I agree that Drew's DVD is not the most technically loaded one on the market... but I don't think it was ever intended to be an 'instructional' production as such - rather, a glimpse into the world of a professional photographer, with a few technical bits thrown in for good measure. For this reason, I believe people will get something out of it, even if that is simply the inspiration to experiment with light and create their own striking images.

From what you are saying, it sounds like the other 'instructional' films you've watched have created a benchmark - clearly, if the above is correct, then this one does not adhere to that 'standard'.

As for production values.. ok, the menu system could have been 'spiced-up' a little bit and, for the price, maybe we would expect more on that front. However, this is Drew's first step into the promo-DVD arena, and with experience surely comes finesse.

I have not yet seen David 'Strobist' Hobby's DVDs - but they must surely be some of the best on the market. The guy knows his stuff, and is regarded as one of the best lighting 'experts' around - but he freely admits that the production values are very low-tech, for reasons of economy etc. Does this make the content any less useful, valid or inspirational? I would hazzard a guess that those who buy the disks do so not so that they have something pretty sat on their shelf, but for the superb content inside.

As for what The Flash Centre charged for postage - I assume that you were aware of this before you made the purchase. Many times, postage costs can be over-inflated by retailers (Ebay sellers are a prime example). It just falls to the customer, therefore, to decide whether the product justifies the P&P.

One last thing - I'm sure you have must have a receipt, so if you really are that unhappy with your purchase, you can always send it back and put the money towards another, more technical, DVD.

Anonymous said...

I'm having some trouble getting a copy of this DVD in France. If anyone wants to sell me their copy I'm interested. Thanks.

Giles said...

@Anonymous... I would suggest you contact The Flash Centre (as they are the main stockists here in the UK), to see how much it would cost for them to send you a copy to france. Their web address is:

Hope that helps!