David Hobby at CERN

The Strobist himself, David Hobby, was in Geneva this week and held a seminar yesterday in one of the gloriously 70s-style lecture theatres at CERN, the nuclear research centre on the border between Switzerland and France. The event, which sold out rapidly but for which I managed to get a last-minute waiting list place, covered a little more than the basics of off-camera flash photography. David went into a little more detail about topics centred around flash-to-ambient-light balance, from fill-in light using a ring flash to using coloured gels to handle and match a range of light balances. The morning was spent discussing some of David’s well-known photographs, as well as some which he took last week in technically challenging environments at CERN. One of the things many things which I learned during the day – which re-inforces a non-strobist tendency in my own photography – is that so many portraits really deserved to be viewed at larger sizes than on the web. Whereas David’s photo of CERN safety officer Xavier looks good online, it really “zings” on a larger screen.

Xavier - Atlas Experiment, CERN LHC

As to the day itself, the attendees (who I photographed after a lunch break) all got on really well and the mood was great. Not only is David a very good photographer, but he’s also very personable and a good teacher. His technique for helping a subject to relax – “yeahh baby!” – will doubtless see wider use too! Fellow attendee Mark Melnykowycz writes on his blog how David came across during the day:

From a certain perspective, David Hobby is like the kid who got all the toys he wanted for Christmas, and spends every day rediscovering their amazingness. This was the impression I had watching him setup the different portraits. It seemed like each light setup was like finding a rocket in the backyard and getting to set it off.

There are photographs from the day in the Swiss Strobist Flickr group.

Swiss strobist day coming up

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