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Thread: Available light vs. Flash

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    Available light vs. Flash

    So this has been something I've been thinking about more and more with my own photography lately.

    While I love available light work, like the simplicity (less gear and rigging) and quality of light you can acheive simply. I've found myself more and more lately thinking of shots that have a bigger dynamic ranges or shooting in times of day that will need flash to pull off a successfull exposure.

    While I think flash photography is just another bag of tricks we should all have, what do you find yourself leaning towards in your own work?

    Cheers,
    Mike.

    Mods: Would be good to have a poll on this perhaps?
    Last edited by mikec; 01-11-2011 at 12:35pm.

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    To further my own point, I look towards people like Simon Carter or Tim Kemple for inspriation in my own work and they both have very different approaches to lighting. Simon never uses it as far as I can tell, while Tim uses it on a regular basis. So there is obviously no right or wrong way.

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    Personally, I utilize 3 things depending on what is appropriate and what gives the best visual and creative presentation, and also depending on the clients needs or my needs, and external variables like the weather and other lighting conditions.

    The 3 things are

    -Ambient/Natural Light
    -Flash
    -Continuous Light

    What really gets on my nerves is when certain people, be it amateurs or professionals - try and argue that natural light is the be all and end all of photography. What seems to me is that those individuals tend to lack experience in knowing how to manipulate lighting properly - be it ambient or flash or continuous. So they kept trying to justify what they only know as the greatest. Or they simply lack the gear and also try to justify what they have to everyone else.

    The best of us would say that knowledge and experience in all 3 light source would be the most ideal, instead of sticking with only 1 lighting medium and not opening your mind to a much greater diversity and style of photography.

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    I like using light
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    Like Kiwi said, use light and like JM Tran said use the light you or the client need to produce something special. Play with all forms, mix it up a bit. There are days when natural light will produce the goods, but when the client wants to shoot at 1pm in the middle of summer and get full detail you may need to add a bit of light here and there. Me, I like toys, so quite often I will pull out every light available plus a reflector or seven and play, and if its just for me so what if its all wrong so long as I have developed my skills. Have fun!
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    depends on what the shoot requires, I don't limit myself by saying "I only shoot ....."

    Certainly, when I am just playing around I will reach for a flash or 2 every time, I just love what can be achieved with flash
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    Why does it have to be one or the other (artifical vs available)?

    I don't really see the point of the question. Use whatever works for you, whenever you want to.

    JJ

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    I think though you do as jm says get some that say "I only shoot in natural light" and to be honest if possible I prefer that but will use whatever other lighting options there are to get the shot

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    Use whatever works to get the image that you want.
    Andrew
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    I'm really only repeating what's already been said but personally, I believe that knowing how to light your subject is the essence of photography - be it with available light or otherwise. it's easy to take a photo when the conditions are great...but when they're not, it's your job to control the situation.

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    I'll be brutally honest here :
    When people harp on about only using one of the other, they might really be saying:

    I am most comfortable with natural light and haven't really explored the use of other lighting sources.
    I have a deep envy to be able to use those other sources of light but because I don't/can't/haven't invested the time or money to do so, my default position is that I won't accept articial lighting as being 'acceptable'

    When I first started taking landscapes, I know that that was my exact line of thought for the amount of post processing done to achieve a 'fine art' look.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjphoto View Post
    Why does it have to be one or the other (artifical vs available)?

    I don't really see the point of the question. Use whatever works for you, whenever you want to.

    JJ
    It doesn't the whole point is to start a discussion about the values in both. Personally I use both and will continue to do so.

    It's interesting to see peoples thoughts on the subject. I thought there would be more ambient light "purists"

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikec View Post
    It doesn't the whole point is to start a discussion about the values in both. Personally I use both and will continue to do so.

    It's interesting to see peoples thoughts on the subject. I thought there would be more ambient light "purists"
    This is not meant to be any kind of 'proof' that one is better than the other but it illustrates my take on artifical lighting. I prefer to fry the crap out of my subjects (ie light them myself rather than shoot with ambient) because it gives ME greater control.

    Ambient, but drab overcast lighting.


    Strobes.


    From http://photocornucopia.com/1028.html

    I prefer to make my own 'drama' with lights. However, sometimes ambient is more dramatic, or subtly beautiful, than almost anything you can do with artificial lighting.

    JJ

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    I use natural light by itself, with reflectors, with a flash, with a flash bounced off a reflector to give lush golden tones or cool diffused light. Whatever achieves the look I'm after in the conditions I'm dealing with. Playing with the various options available is half the fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikec View Post
    what do you find yourself leaning towards in your own work?
    For "my own work" - i.e. "for me": I lean strongly to controlling the shot to make it the best I can in the Available Light.

    For "me" shooting this way without control over the light, but making the most of it, is part of the challenge and the fun of raw photography, no flash, no light modifiers, just the camera (and usually) a standard lens or at the most one lens of three Primes: - Just Wide / Standard / Short Telephoto.

    I very rarely use flash or any photographer contrived or controlled lighting - maybe only one HH reflector; and only sometimes:




    Shooting a job for money is an entirely different kettle of kippers.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 03-11-2011 at 8:36am. Reason: korrected spellung

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