Made in Roanoke, 2012
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I have never been a big user of photographic flash units. I’m never happy with the ones that come built into cameras, and the Speedlight I bought to attach to the top of the camera upsets the balance of carrying the camera.
Having said that, I have been fully aware and respectful of the value of using flash units, especially for providing infill light for low-light settings and backlit portraits.
I’ve just always preferred natural light.
But after taking the workshop this past summer, I was reminded of how much I miss by not having a flash unit handy when I’m out taking pictures. I was also reminded of just how untrained I am at using a flash unit.
This past weekend I pledged to start 1) carrying the flash with me and 2) using it. This is harder than it sounds. Having a flash unit attached to the top of the camera really does change the weight distribution, and if you’ve been carrying a camera for one way for forty years you don’t embrace that kind of change rapidly.
But I put the flash unit onto the camera and stepped out of the car to photograph people at Roanoke’s downtown farmer’s market.
I should mention here that I didn’t stay at the farmer’s market very long. The place was teeming with photographers. Every third guy, it seemed, had a camera in his hand. Three or four stopped me to say, “Nice camera.” What do you say in such situations? I didn’t make the camera. I was just fortunate enough to be able to afford to buy it.
The light at the farmer’s market was just right for using a flash for infill. That is, the foregrounds were dark and the backgrounds were extremely bright. You could expose for one or the other, but not both successfully without some kind of supplemental light.
Nation and World, 2012
I hesitate to show these feeble efforts of mine. But as you can see, using a flash unit for fill light isn’t as easy as just clipping the flash onto the camera and firing away. The poor guy in the photo above looks not only stunned, but also like a one-dimensional cutout. (And let's not mention the bright vegetables.) The lady with the red glasses was a little better, but still too light in the foreground.
Just something more to learn.