One of the Disney cast members on the Honoring America float in the Electric Parade in Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida.
Until a couple of years ago, I would avoid flash like the plague. To me, flash was synonymous with blown out, harshly lit, blue-white soaked images and I used it only in the direst of circumstances. This impression was created back in my film days when using flash meant a fair bit of mental arithmetic (dividing guide numbers by distances) or table lookup (remember those aperture/distance/ISO tables printed on the back of the old flashes). Couple this with the fact that you had to wait a week to see whether you got the settings right or not, and that every wrong attempt cost about 25 cents, and you get a pretty good idea of why using flash was not something I cherished.
Things have, however, become very much easier these days with the advent of advanced flash technology and, probably even more significantly, the general availability of displays on cameras which allow you to see and correct your mistakes immediately. As a result, I now find myself using flash more often than not when shooting people. This may involve light stands and diffusers as in the various family groups I’ve posted over the last couple of weeks or, as in this case, a single on-camera flash dialed down a couple of stops to provide a bit of fill while the camera is shooting at high ISO.
If you are still scared of your flash, spend some time playing with it and I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised. You don’t need to spend a fortune and go all Joe “10 SB-900s” McNally to pick up the benefits that can be had by throwing a bit more directed light into your scenes these days. A single flash and a couple of hours reading strobist.com or one of the many other sites dedicated to the use of small flash is all you need to get started.
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