The Next Frontier

I’ve been spending all of my time learning everything about off camera flash. For most of my time as a photographer I believed very strongly that flash was capable of one thing only, ruining photos. Since taking my flash off camera and using it with a variety of light modifiers, I have discovered the next great pillar of knowledge to digest.

Doing this has drastically changed my approach to photography and its role in my life. My interest in documentary style street photography, using natural light and capturing candid interactions has decreased. Replacing it is a style that lacks the spontaneity and discretion of the documentary style. It requires careful preparation, modification of the scene, alertness of the subject and most importantly from a technical perspective, a comprehensive knowledge of light.

So is all of the effort worth it?

In a word, yes. For the simple reason that positioning and manipulating our own light allows us to create very predictable and reproducible results. I feel less at the mercy of the sun and its randomness. The ability to position light also means the ability to position shadows.


Chris. X-Pro1 with Carl Zeiss 2/50 ZM. Nikon SB-900 into a white shoot through umbrella camera right.

Part of the fun is in manipulating the light from the flash against the ambient light, similar to balancing aperture against shutter speed. In this case a small aperture was used in combination with a high flash power to overpower and underexpose the ambient light in the background. The fall of light and shadow create a flattering three dimensional look on Chris. The white umbrella creates a nice medium-soft light, enough to produce some dramatic shadows.

The other great benefit is shooting at ISO200, 1/125 in very low light. Minimising motion blur and high ISO grain and maximising image quality.



    1. Thanks Rob. This was the first portrait I ever lit with a speedlight. The beginning of what has become an addiction!

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