No flash photography

Posted by on Dec 12, 2009 in Articles | No Comments

I have to admit something to all of you. I don’t have a flash. I haven’t owned one in three years. I haven’t missed one in five years. I don’t expect I will ever own one or miss one again. Why? Because I find the combination of high ISO photography and the tricks and power of Lightroom have made flash unnecessary. It also helps to be wise and clever enough to find situations to photograph that don’t need flash. Let me explain.

Most of my photography these days has been confined to an old dairy farm. (My book on the farm will be coming out in June) This means that I have been photographing inside a lot in pretty dark places. My results have been spectacular and I have never, ever used a flash. The trick is to use the highest viable ISO (the highest without too much noise) and find a situation with nice light. And then just fire away!

hughThis is a photo of Hugh, the 93 year old farmer. Notice the nice light on his face and the lack of shadows. This is because I waited to take his picture in a location where there was light bouncing off the floor of the barn on to his face. This is why there are no shadows under his hat. There is no flash that I know of that will be able to take this shot as easily as I did without flash.

The little calf was lying in the darkest part of the barn. I didn’t have the option of using flash because I didn’t want to disturb the calf or the cows immediately to my side. So I waited for just a touch of light coming from a side window and with my ISO set at 1600 took this picture. I was also hand-holding my camera. How is that for breaking all the rules and still getting a nice shot?calfbarn-m

With Lightroom flash has become unnecessary because the program allows very precise selective lightening of areas. This effect is the same as using the flash in fill mode. Think about it- isn’t fill flash the same as throwing light into a dark area? So if you can selective lighten an area of your photograph in Lightroom why use fill flash? Got me!

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