Why you’ll never (okay, RARELY) see me use a flash…

I started with photography at the age of 15 with my first “real” camera – a Minolta film camera with all the manual bells and whistles (this was way before the digital era, kids!). I actually bought this camera for $50 from my older sister. I also did her homework and wrote a book report for her but that’s a whole other story! LOL! In high school we had to pick electives in areas we found interesting and I always seem to choose photography, art or graphic design. By my senior year I was taking 4 periods of photography a day (I hated study halls) and couldn’t get enough of it!! After high school enrolled at Penn State University where I worked as a photographer for the Daily Collegian – the largest student-run newspaper in the United States. A little bragging: I beat out approximately 80 other photographers for this ONE spot on the paper- that majority of them photography/art majors which I was not. This was where I used my first professional digital camera. I photographed mostly editorial pieces and wrestling. Odd combination, I know. BUT… in all this there was one commonality. I NEVER, once, EVER used a flash. Not because I didn’t want to or wasn’t interested in learning but because 1. there was zero chance I could afford one when I was in high school and 2. one was never offered to us in college. This not only forced me to learn the manual controls on my camera (the Minolta was all manual anyway) but also gave me a unique, albeit, forced opportunity to work with light and shadows and learn to use them to my advantage. Now, when I photograph I LOVE playing with shadows to make my photos interesting. Boring, flat, lighting isn’t in my playbook. I have absolutely nothing against using a flash or have anything negative to say to someone who chooses to use one. I also do not consider myself a natural-light photographer. I am very well-trained in using a flash and believe there are times when one is necessary. It’s just not for me all of the time. I DO use a light in my studio for portrait photography and will go between that and light coming in the windows for different looks.

Here are a few examples of my work sans-flash:

You would probably be very surprised to learn that this was taken without a flash in an all-but-dark room. I actually used a tea light candle on the table to light the ring at a 45 degree angle. Lenses that photograph well in low-light situations help, too. Here, I used a Nikkor 105mm macro lens.

– additionally, the camera used here was a Nikon z7 mirrorless

This was taken mid-morning using only the light spilling in from the 2 windows on either side of the subject. Don’t let shadows and dappled light scare you!! Use it to your advantage for interesting photos.

– the camera used in this photo was a Nikon d610 DSLR

This was taken in a poorly-lit, dark area deep in the Michaux State Forest in Fayetteville, Pennsylvania. The only light we really had coming in was at a 45 degree angle to the right of the subject (her left shoulder). You can see the hair lit slightly where the sun is shining in. Here, I was trying to achieve some dark, rich colors. In subsequent photos there are some gorgeous, golden light rays coming through the trees!!!

– this was also photographed with a Nikon d610 DSLR

Stay tuned for another post on photographing in low-light areas!!

Leave a Reply