I just finished my first year as the full-time art+photography teacher at Mission Prep here in San Luis Obispo. Many would think, after nine months of wrangling teens, that it’s time for me to take a break. To the contrary, I’m busier now than I’ve been in a long while. Put another way, when it comes to summer jobs, I have many.

First up is the complete revision of my Speedliter’s Handbook–the second edition of which will be published next fall by Peachpit Press. In addition to the inclusion of the new radio-enabled 600EX-RT Speedlite system, I am updating all of my workflows and my gear recommendations based on the insights I’ve gained since the original Handbook was published four years ago. You can bet that I’ll be beta-testing a lot of the new content as posts here on PixSylated. Grab a free email subscription if you want to keep up with with these posts.

Second up, I’m heading back to school this summer–as a student. Specifically, I’m starting work on my Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree–a dream that I’ve held onto for many, many years. This means that I’ll be in Boston twice a year for the next two years to attend residencies in the Visual Arts MFA program at Lesley University. Between those summer and winter residencies, I’ll be creating entirely new bodies of personal work back here in California.

Other Random Bytes


^ As an emerging photographer, eons ago, my three beacons were Ansel Adams, Paul Caponigro, and Minor White. I am truly humbled (and still think unworthy) to be included with Adams and White in a recent article on Digital-Photography-School.com. In it, author/photographer Adam Welch shares his insights on the photographic ideas gleaned from the writings of Adams, White, and yours truly. As I said, I’m humbled. It’s a good read, with or without yours truly. If you’ve never cruised DPS, you will find the site to be a treasure trove of great info.


Instagram continues to grow on me. I started posting pix into my Instagram gallery a couple of months ago as a way to create pix for the sake of creating pix (which I wrote about here). Of late, I’ve been sharing abstracts from my kitchen. If you’re not aware, Instagram recently released Version 6 — which adds tremendous control to the processing of images. Instagram v6 has now become my go-to image processor among many photo apps on my iPhone (beating out Luminance, VCSOcam, Camera Awesome, Camera+, etc.). You can read about the new v6 release here on TechCrunch. Instagram as my #1 mobile image processor…who would have guessed?


My two favorite softboxes for Speedlites are the Apollo Orb and the Apollo Medium by F.J. Westcott. If you are not familiar with the Apollo boxes, they fold up like an umbrella–which makes them super-easy to carry and quick to set up. The Speedlite (or Speedlites) mount on the inside and fire backwards into shiny, silver fabric–which spreads the light out beautifully. For a limited time, B&H has a great kit on sale for $228.90. The kit contains both the Apollo Orb and the Apollo Medium, two 8′ light stands, two swivel brackets, and a carrying case. Click here to read how much I loved the Orb when it was introduced three years ago. This amazing deal won’t last long.


^ My sensei, Joe McNally, has just released Volume Two to his Language of Light video. When it comes to lighting, Joe has provided me with more more insights and bits of inspiration than any other photographer. Sure, Joe shoots Nikon. Sure, you need a decoder ring at times (for instance, ITTL in Nikonian = ETTL in Canonista). When my lighting needs a creative recharge, I pull up Joe’s portfolio for the Nth time and take a slow cruise through. If you cannot spend time with Joe at a workshop, his Language of Light is the next best thing. Volume 1 and Volume 2 are specially priced for Father’s Day. Check out the details about his new release here on Joe’s blog.


^ Canon has their summer rebate program in full swing through July 5. (Handy isn’t it that Father’s Day is coming up!) Click here to get the details about the 45 lenses and 4 Speedlites (including the 600EX-RT) that currently have rebates. Some of the rebates are mail-in, others are instantly reduced from the price online.


In addition to the new book and MFA, I have three workshops scheduled during this crazy-busy summer. This Friday, I depart for Missoula, Montana to teach my first-ever Flash Photography workshop with Rocky Mountain Workshops. Don’t fret if you did not get into this one. In early July, I’ll return for my third summer with Santa Fe Photographic Workshops to teach my Crafting Dramatic Light With Small Strobes workshop. Then, towards the end of August, I’ll head all the way across the continent to teach my Canon Speedlites Demystified workshop at Maine Media.

I hope to see you out there somewhere. Keep looking at the light and thinking about the shadows!

One Response to Random Bytes 140610

  1. Hi Syl! Congrats on finishing your first year as teacher (well, proper year. You’ve been teaching a long time!) You have a lot of cool irons in the fire – very cool to hear. Looking forward to having a front seat in the Pixsylated Wagon to see it all happen. ~ Mark

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