Speedlight Mastery is the latest video production from Damien Lovegrove of Lovegrove Consulting, a small company that burst on to the wedding scene in Great Britain in 2000 and made it to the top of their market in just two years. Damien Lovegrove learned his skills as a cameraman and lighting director at the BBC for 14 years as well as taking photographs for companies like Peugeot, Motorola, and Adidas.
Lovegrove Consulting also does a lot of training workshops year round and this enthusiastic teaching style comes through in the presentation of Speedlight Mastery.
Speedlight Mastery comes as a Blu-Ray high definition disk (the one I am reviewing) as well as standard DVD – keep in mind that this is in the PAL one, so you want to be sure you get the correct format. This video contains 150 minutes of training that is broken down into 23 separate shoots.
The shoots are quite varied in both amount of information as well as length. The video was shot on 3 HD Canon 5D Mark II cameras that are visible (two at any given time) through much of the video. At first I thought that it might be distracting, but found that it really gave the feeling of actually being there live with the instructor. It also worked when he would take one of the video cameras and show you what he was seeing through the camera.
Each segment starts off with a talk about the type of shot that he is trying to create. Sometimes it is one flash and other times it is 2 or more flashes. He uses both Canon and Nikon cameras as well as flash systems and walks you through their use. While he does show you some functionality about the controls on the flash, you will want to be familiar with the basic use of your flash system though because, what this video is trying to teach is about the lighting, and not how the equipment functions.
Once you get through what the goal of the shoot is, he sets up the lights on the stands adds any light modifiers and runs through some test shots. Throughout this time, he is constantly explaining what he is doing and why he is doing it. It is very evident that he is very comfortable with both his skills and his ability to teach the material.
Then it is time for the model to come in and get set. He explains more about the look he is trying to create and you see how he works with the model to get the right look. During the shoot, he continues to direct the model and the video camera shows what he is getting as he shoots. Throughout, he mentions the settings that he is using and how and why they effect the lighting. At the end of the segment you see the actual final images along with the settings for each shot.
I found Speedlight Mastery to be an incredibly well done training video that has a lot of information contained within. Some of the shoots, move rather quickly and such a lot of techniques are shown that you will want to watch some segments over multiple times.
Some of the techniques that are shown include how to make a hazy day time scene look like night, how to cleverly conceal flashes to enhance or overpower the natural lighting to make the scene look like it was done with just the available light, how to use unusual light modifiers like branches to paint more interesting backgrounds, how to use gels to create colorful effects, how to use reflections to create interesting portraits, and much, much more.
The shoots take place a wide variety of places from railroad tracks, to over grown grassy areas, from industrial settings to in front of ordinary business store fronts. Most of the time you would not recognize some of the mundane settings because of how the shot is set up, the lighting accessories that are used, the interesting use of light, as well as the composition.
Speedlight Mastery is available from Lovegrove Consulting and lists for £85 including VAT. You can also watch one of the clips on the product page as well. It is here that you will also find the type of equipment that is used in this production as well as other information about the video.
I really enjoyed watching Speedlight Mastery and Damien Lovegrove’s infectious love of photography. It will make you want to get out there and shoot. That is what I think makes a successful training video and so I very highly recommend Speedlight Mastery.