Wanda Merritt Anthony

Wanda Merritt Anthony

Monday, May 26, 2014

Available Light Photography

It has been said the photographers who label themselves existing light photographers don't know how to use flash.  I can only speak for myself; they are right.  I don't know enough about flash to use it effectively.  I do know enough to not turn on my built in on-camera flash.  When I had a separate flash for my film camera I knew enough not to point it straight at my subject.  I knew enough to tilt or swivel the flash head but me results were terrible because I didn't know how to adjust the flash output.  Now I know enough to not only buy a flash that tilts and swivels but to also get a stand to put it on, remote, (The remote may be already built into the camera and/or flash unit), and possible a reflector.    Because I don't have the money for all that, and haven't studied how to set it up, and practiced, I'm still an existing light photographer. 

I've been thinking about calling myself an available light photographer.  This came about at this club/bar/restaurant we were in the night before my daughter's wedding.  Between the need to photograph people in low light, and wanting as little noise as possible in the pictures I was momentarily in a quandary.  I started out by using that terrible on-camera flash.  I don't know why, wishful thinking I guess.  As you know, the pictures turned out awful.  I put on my thinking cap.

I remembered YouTube videos where the photographer used a flashlight to "paint" light where needed in night scenes.  "Andrea, turn on your flashlight app," I said. 

"My phone is dead," she answered.

I thought a bit more.  Then it came to me, my magnifyer light.  I dig out my magnifyer and turn it on.  I hold it in one hand and my camera in the other.  Now I'm able to angel the light so it makes their faces look pretty good for a club/bar/restaurant. 

Use substitutions in a pinch.  For the most part shoot in conditions your equipment can handle.  Be an available light photographer when you have to be; it's better than putting your camera away.  

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