Our first interview in a while features the creator of the Lighting Rumours website, David Selby. While earning a college degree, he has simultaneously been plugging away at the website for the past few years, building a database of information on triggers, strobes, flashes, and other lighting gear. Read on to learn more about his predictions for the lighting industry, love of quirky small-sensor cameras, and future of the website…
Name & Hometown
My name is David Antony Selby. An American actor, who was in The Social Network, has the same name as me and was even inconsiderate enough to take the domain davidselby.com. Online I’ll therefore include my middle initial so you don’t get me mixed up with the lawyer of the Winklevoss twins. I’m originally a smoggie, born in Middlesbrough, north-east England. But now I live in Edinburgh, said to be one of the most picturesque cities in Europe.
Tell us about yourself
I’m 21 years old, currently in the middle of a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics & Statistics at the University of Edinburgh. When I’m not studying I like to go cycling, taking pictures and exploring the city. I’m also head of multimedia at The Journal, one of the biggest student newspapers in Scotland, so that takes up a chunk of my spare time too.
How did you get into photography?
Photography had interested me a little bit when I was younger, but it wasn’t until I got my first DSLR, a Nikon D40, for my 17th birthday that I really got into learning as much as I possibly could. I haven’t studied it formally or been to any workshops, so just glean what I can from the internet and my own little experiments. The only actual photography technique book I’ve ever owned is Light, Science & Magic, but it’s been invaluable.
One camera and lens for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Nikon D40 and Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G. Suits all situations. Small and light enough to take anywhere, excellent image quality, easy to use and 1/4000 sec flash sync without any expensive widgets. Battery lasts forever. I’ve taken mine all over the world and it didn’t fail me once. Then I gave it to my sister at Christmas and she dropped it last month. R.I.P. Now I use a Pentax Q, easily one of the most under-rated cameras ever. It fits in my pocket, unlike almost every other mirrorless camera.
If you could shoot anywhere/anything/anyone, what would it be?
I don’t really have any ambitions to shoot anything exotic or famous in that sense. While I can certainly understand the appeal of taking sweeping landscapes in Utah or shooting celebrity portraits, I personally find it a far more exciting challenge to create something interesting out of what’s on my doorstep.
Do you ever shoot professionally? What is your specialty?
Working in a nightclub taking photos of revellers is good fun so long as you take a beer-proof camera with you. I’ve also done a bit of news, portraiture and commercial work. Most of what I cover is events and news but that’s not my main passion, unless I can shoehorn an interesting lighting technique in here or there, or meet some interesting people. I don’t have a full-time photography job but most of my projects centre around The Journal, which involves a little bit of all the different genres.
So you’re the guy behind Lighting Rumours, eh? How did all that come about?
I wanted to buy a set of lights for myself but am also obsessed about getting good value for money. The information available on web forums didn’t meet my needs since it was often inaccurate, out of date or not relevant to me as a customer. For example, I’d often see recommendations for a particular brand of lights which were only sold within the United States. Not much help for somebody in Britain! I noticed that while there are many one-stop, international sources for news and reviews of cameras (e.g. DP Review) there was no equivalent for lighting gear. So I made one myself to fill the niche and it’s grown from there.
Where do you see the future of the lighting industry going? What kind of products and features can we expect?
Tungsten “hot” lights are on their way out. It can’t be sustainable when there are much safer and more efficient alternatives available such as HMI, LEDs and fluorescent lamps that are coming down in price. Hopefully the next generation of studio flashes will have LED modelling lamps so we can leave them running without worrying about fires or huge electricity bills.
Portability is another trend. We are going to see lots of smaller, lighter power packs, sometimes built into the flash head itself. Combined with LED modelling lamps and new kinds of batteries, you’ll probably be able to run your location lights like your studio flashes without having to worry constantly about the batteries going flat.
Wireless control is something else we’ll see. There are a few lights coming out here and there that can be controlled from a smartphone but this should become more mainstream. Nobody seems to want to use infrared-controlled systems any more – it’s radio all the way. The Canon 600EX-RT is a good example of this trend, though it should have come out long ago, before everybody already bought third-party radio remotes.
What are your future plans for the Lighting Rumours website?
I’m really keen to get a more diverse range of writers contributing articles. As an international web site it’s important to get viewpoints from more different countries and even translation into different languages. Anybody who would like to become a contributor is encouraged to get in touch. We’ve just started a regular analysis piece that will be in both Spanish and English. For US brands we have a photographer called Matt, based in Los Angeles, who is kindly helping us evaluate the latest gear. Next year I’ll be in Hong Kong, which should be good fun and give me a different take on things.
Please share a few of your favorite pictures with us, and tell us about them.
Pentax Q shot must be included because I can’t stress enough how brilliant this camera is. Ignore the haters!