Monday, December 21, 2009

Natural Light Vs. Flash

When I'm shooting an event the challenge is trying to use a multitude of different techniques to create a body of work that is cohesive yet varied in style. The images need to represent my point of view while telling a personal story and highlighting the specified needs of the client.

For example: These two images are shot in the same location and just seconds after each other but both images convey a different mood. The first is a image shot using only the available light from the window so the bride is silhouetted. Some detail can be seen in her dress and around her but that's all. The act of the bride looking out this window insinuates a feeling of anticipation. By shooting the image using only the window light the geometry of the glass panes become more obvious and the black and white also helps to make the lines of the image and the light cascading in the focal point. By shooting at 1/160 @F6.3 the room goes dark. This is because the fast shutter speed is exposing for the natural light and not the incandescent lights in the room. A slower shutter speed would have picked up the overhead lights and the contrast wouldn't have been so lovely.  The next image is shot a few seconds after the first but the style has changed completely. Fill flash has been added to bring up the light in the room and the image is shown in color instead of black and white. Additionally, the exposure has changed dramatically. The color photo was shot at 1/60 @f9. Notice how the flash becomes the main light and it's directional from camera left. While detail is still visible outside, the light from the window is now acting as a secondary light source. Also, the shutter speed was reduced so the window looks brighter even though the light levels haven't changed, more light has simply entered the camera's lens the second shot so it is more exposed then the first.  There are a few things that you can see in the color version that were obscured in the black in white. The reflection of the second flash can be seen in the widow, the radiator behind the bride,the extension cord and outlet at her feet and the color of the (ugly) rug in the room. All of these problems can be removed by re-framing the image and coming in for a tighter crop, but if your client has asked for a full body shot (and who wouldn't if she looked this good?) The best choice is the black and white image.
And this goes back to my original point, knowing a variety of techniques and being able to handle light in all sorts of ways makes you a better photographer. I've head it said many times by other professionals "I'm a natural light photographer." Which for me translates into, "I'm afraid to try new things." My advice, never let yourself get stuck in a rut. When faced with a photo opportunity, don't be scared to ask yourself, "how can I do this differently?" and try a fresh approach. The worst that can happen is you'll fail! Failure is simply an opportunity to learn. So if you're going to mess up, do it with gusto and a lot of carefully taken notes so next time you'll be one step closer to creating an image that is unlike anything you've shot before.

No comments:

Post a Comment