Lights Nights & Practical Shoots

Every year club member and professional photographer John Gardner gives members the benefit of his extensive knowledge of lighting setups and techniques in 4/5 sessions spread throughout the year. These practical evenings where John comes along with lighting and model(s) to demonstrate on how to set up lighting, either in your home or in a studio, and shows what can be achieved. Each time he tries to introduce a new technique and everyone is encouraged to bring their gear along as there should be plenty of opportunity to shoot effectively lit shots yourself. Members are always impressed with the images they achieve and many go on to win competitions with them. This page is a set of galleries showing some of the images members have taken in those evenings.

In addition there are other evenings where subjects are brought along to the club for a practical photography evening. You will find galleries of such evenings here as well . All the images are contributed voluntarily by the members so it is not intended that these represent the best or all the images taken (indeed hundreds are shot on the night). See what you think.

Light Night 18 November 2013

A very busy evening again with nearly sixty members filling the meeting room for one of our regular ‘Lights Nights’.  John used two studio flashes but he explained how just two normal off-camera flashes/speedlights could be used in just the same way – in fact he uses that set up in confined spaces – so members could create the same effects at home or in a studio. Jasmine was the model John had brought along and was an instant hit with members despite it being only her second modelling shoot. Jasmine had brought a friend Ellie and she joined her for the latter part of the shoot and very good. Some of the shots taken by members are in the gallery below together with a couple showing the meeting.

 Lights Night – 27th January 2014

A full meeting room enjoyed another one of our regular ‘Lights Nights’.  John Gardner, member and successful professional photographer, provided his usual introductory talk on setting up LN1 smlthe lighting. John demonstrated the use of a fairly simple setup of just two studio flashes to produce impressive results. Laura returned to the club as model. Her previous visit was one of her first modelling jobs but now she is one of John’s regular models. John dispensed his advice to individuals as they took there turn to grab their shots.  The numbering system for queuing those wanting to take photographs of Laura worked very well again with Jack Bunn controlling queue, and all those that wanted to take part (the majority of members) got at least one session and some had two sessions.

LN2 smlOn this occasion we did not have an unmounted A4 competition, allowing members plenty of time to have a chat, compare shots, sort out problems etc. The arrangement went well with a decided buzz of conversation throughout the evening. Thanks again to John and Laura for a good evening. There is a gallery of some of the shots beow and if any member wants to submit one or two of their own shots they can be added to the gallery.


Lights night – 3rd March 2014


On the night of the 3rd of March John Gardner came along to give the club the benefit of his expertise in studio lighting. He bought three models along this evening and two lighting set-ups so that everyone had plenty of shooting opportunities. The models were spectacularly dressed in goth/steam punk style and provided plenty of opportunities for interesting portraits. One lighting set-up used conventional studio flash and back light fired by a radio trigger. This meant that members used the now usual numbering system to get their time with the models and lights. Whilst that was going on John had set up a new constant light system so that embers could shoot “en mass” – just as you might have seen on the red carpet at the Oscars! It also meant that members had the opportunity to keep shooting whilst waiting for their session with the flash set-up. The result of all this was an evening of great fun, activity and hard work. I wouldn’t like to guess how many images were taken in the evening but I bet it was pretty high. Thanks to John and the models for a really good evening.

Below is the start of a gallery from the evening. If any member would like to send me examples of their images from the evening to the usual email address ( then I will add them. The gallery will be added to the Lights Nights image galleries.

Cold Blooded Encounters
It was a hot time with cold-blooded creatures at the meeting on Monday 28th July. The animals were brought by Adrian and assistant from Cold Blooded Encounters and the cameras were supplied by a large number of members. First up was a Bearded Dragon. Some members had raided the shrubbery to provide a more naturalistic setting for the shots. The space allowed two members at a time (and sometimes a few more!) to take photographs which allowed members more than one shooting session. After the dragon came a tarantula on the table – one or two members appeared to be a little nervous with this wonderful creature. At the same time as some members were shooting the tarantula Adrian set up another area where others could take photographs of a pacman frog and giant millipedes. Towards the end of the evening out came a red-tailed boa constrictor – a magnificent beast which could not even fit on the table so members got “up close and personal” with it on the floor.

A Lights Night Without a Flash in Sight

On the evening of Monday 8th September John Gardner, club member and professional photographer, gave the latest in his series of Lights Nights. John always brings a model with him and demonstrates different lighting techniques using studio flash which can be replicated with flash guns at home or in the studio. Tonight, though, was a bit different as there wasn’t a flash in sight.

JG sml

This time John decided to use hot boxes as a constant source of light so no flash was required. The hot boxes don’t provide as much power as the flashes but positioned at close range they give easily enough for quality shots. John demonstrated the differences between the normal hot boxes with incandescent bulbs and the newer type with an array of LED lights – the difference in colour temperature was clear to see with the LED’s being very close to natural daylight.

John set the lights up for shots that would work well in black and white and Leanne was the model tonight. There was a “free for all” in the best possible way for members to shoot their portraits as a numbering system was not required.

Group shooting sml

Usually with flash only one person is shooting at a time and they have control over the flash system. With constant light there was no need to queue people there was no flash to control so as many photographers as wanted could shoot away simultaneously. At times it was difficult for Leanne to know who to respond to but that was quickly sorted out and everyone had plenty of opportunity to get just the shot they wanted.


Lights Night June 2015

The evening of Monday 29th June saw the latest of our long-running series of Lights Nights run by professional photographer and club member John Gardner. With him tonight was the model for the evening, Hollie . John brought with him two new studio flashes by Prophoto to let members see how this new gear could be used. As usual John kept the lighting set-up quite simple so that members could recreate it. He also demonstrated how the same background can appear as totally different tones, ranging from black to white, depending on the position and power of the lights.
After some really informative instruction it was the turn of each member to have some time to shoot and try to get the definitive shot of the evening of Hollie. Each member had a good amount of time and John was around to give help and guidance, especially for the less experienced members. The aim was simply for everyone to enjoy the evening, learn some more about lighting and go home with a memory card containing some really good portraits and judging by some of the images I saw on the camera displays it was certainly achieved. John also helped by giving Hollie some posing instructions and moved the lights around to demonstrate how different effects can be achieved and then allowing members to try out the ideas. In the first half the lights were used as studio flashes so it was one member at a time, with their camera controlling the flash set-up. After the interval John changed the lights to a constant light source. Although they were obviously less powerful in this mode it did mean that several members could shoot at once. At times it did resemble the paparazzi pack surrounding a celebrity! Hollie was wonderfully patient and tried to follow all the different instructions she was being given.
Again John had created an entertaining and instructional evening, full of practical hands-on activity.

Shooting in the Dark September 2015

On the evening of Monday 28th September about 20 members journeyed out from the club on a novel practical photoshoot. The aim was to find a dark place (i.e. no street lights etc.) so we all met at Old Park Farm near Stanley Ferry. It was a set of disused, dilapidated farm buildings but well away from artificial light. Torches and tripods were the order of the day (or more precisely, night) and we all had to take great care not to fall over bricks, stones, branches or each other – all but one of us managed that. The aim was to try out a very different type of photography where long exposures became normal and illuminating parts of the scene with torches became a fun activity. Instead of trying to modify images in Photoshop we were modifying them as they were being taken. A full moon detracted from the darkness but soon became an asset as it lit parts of the scene and parts of the sky. It is very difficult to convey how much fun everyone had trying this type of photography, with everyone learning from each other and discovering just what can be achieved. Some were more inventive than others – painting with different coloured lights, using sweet wrappers as coloured gels in front of torches and using fellow members as shadowy figures. If it seems an unlikely source of striking images just have a look at the gallery below and see what people have achieved. These are just the first 4 members who have submitted images and I’m sure there will be more so I will be updating the gallery so all can be seen.

Lights Night February 2016

The meeting on the evening of 15th February saw a good attendance for the latest of John Gardner’s Lights Nights. There are events where our resident professional photographer and long-time member John Gardner brings along a model and gives everyone the benefit of his wisdom re lighting for models. As usual he came along with a model but tonight it was a little different in that the model was Alan Jones, the well-known “Hot Chestnut” man fresh from his usual pitch in the Cathedral Precinct. Unfortunately we couldn’t get his hot chestnut stall up in the lift so it was just Alan and his dog, Albert. Alan is a familiar face in the Cathedral Precinct over the winter months, selling his wonderful roasted chestnuts to cold shoppers and workers. At the start of the evening John gave his usual very clear explanation of what he was trying to achieve with his lighting set-up. In previous Lights Nights there were usually female models and the lighting arrangement was normally designed to bring out the smoothness of the skin. John explained that he usually looked for different things when using male models, particularly in portraits, and imperfections were often highlighted. He also said that these sort of portraits sometimes were really effective in black and white. He was using 2 studio flashes the evening which was a fairly simple but effective arrangement, and he explained all aspects of the set-up, showing how moving the lights gave different effects.

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