Steve Aves Seminar at Dunston Hall 05/02/11

I was in Norwich last week to present my latest lighting seminar. It was a full house with 14 photographers all wanting to know more about lighting. After the introductions, I always like to start with a show of hands to see how many people have their own lighting. As usual there was a good mix of those who had lighting and those who were about to dive in and buy their own kits. But the common theme was that everyone was keen to see and use a wide range of accessories and shoot our model Kayleigh who joined us for the day.

Even though a few people had some basic knowledge, I always like to start at the beginning, explaining the technical aspects of lighting. So the first session started with me explaining the importance of power and the link between flash duration and colour temperature. Basic stuff that’s really important to know when it comes to choosing flash.

Steve was very authoritative, an engaging and charismatic tutor and a thoroughly pleasant guy. I think myself lucky to have met and learned from him.

After a break for some much needed coffee, we started the second session talking about a range of topics including meters, the best way to set up the camera, speeds apertures ISO’s etc. We also covered syncing, trigger voltage, modelling lamps and flash tubes, all very important things to understand. I also showed them how to use the Bowens Pulsar system for cordless syncing, a must in the studio if you shoot kids, animals or grown ups!

With Kayleigh’s help, I began to demonstrate some very basic Hi Key lighting set ups, first using one light with a brolly and then adding a soft box to light the background, creating a very simple portrait. I also explained how to use a basic light meter to evaluate the exposure plus other ways to light the background. I used a Backlite reflector on a floor stand and the Bowens High Performance reflector. It was a good session with everyone snapping Kayleigh and understanding how easy it is to light Hi Key!

Photo by Steve Howlett

After a well earned lunch in the carvery we moved from Hi Key lighting to my favourite part of the seminar, demonstrating how to shoot low-key. Low Key is the exact opposite of that all over white, bleached out Hi Key stuff. Low Key is all about using just one light with accessories like the Bowen’s Grid reflector and Honeycomb that produces beautiful pools of light that are very easy to control. I’ve always loved working in this low light style and its a pleasure when people are so enthusiastic about the results. Again everyone was able to shoot Kayleigh in this style and produced some super shots.

Photo by Nicholas Manthorpe

In the last session of the day I went back to Hi Key via some fashion work, first demonstrating the amazing Bowens Ringlite Converter, on a Gemini 500. This is a kind of cross over accessory that is ideal to shoot fashion, but can also be used for Hi Key work. It's really simple to use and gives stunning results in either full length or head and shoulders. Kayleigh modelled both styles for us and again, everyone shot some nice work, surprised at the simplicity and quality of the Ringlite. After the Ringlite Converter I had one last accessory to demonstrate, the star of the show, the Bowens Sunlite Supersoft reflector, a superb beauty dish that gives a wonderful light for portrait photography. Because of its size, shape and multi diffusion, it gives the most perfect output to shoot hair, fashion, beauty and portraiture. It was a great way to finish the day, using such a perfect light to shoot our model Kayleigh.

Photo Matt Brasnett from

At end of each session I made sure that there was plenty of time to answer questions and I round off the final session with yet more questions.

As I’ve said before, I think that there are so many benefits to be gained from this course, apart from the obvious knowledge you will gain about studio lighting. You will be able to see and use the latest equipment and accessories, a great opportunity to ‘try before you buy’! Another benefit is just being able to spend the day with other photographers. Everyone is so keen to share their own knowledge about cameras, lenses and all things photographic. At the end of the course people swapped cards, email addresses and phone numbers, eager to stay in touch with each other in the future.

Can't speak highly enough about the course. Nearly 1-1 help, very personable and knowledgeable tutor, good friendly company, carvery meal and £25 voucher back - the course is brilliant value for money. Not only will I be recommending future courses but hopefully will be going on them too!!

I hope that I’ve given you an idea of what to expect on the course and hope that you will be able to join me in the future.

Steve Aves

To see more images from the seminar attendees, view the album on the Wex Photographic Facebook page