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  • Writer's picturerachel leintz

literal light bulb

On this Memorial Day, I was reviewing some of images of photographers I really admire...Ryan Schembri, Scott Robert Lim, Jerry Ghionis, Pye Jirsa, just to mention a few. And I got to thinking about light source selections. I find that here in AZ, there are a ton of fabulous natural light photographers. Some of them are digital, some of them are film photographer, but there aren't a ton that really seem to focus on mastering supplemental light. That is flash, video lights, reflectors, diffusers, etc.

I'm not going to lie to you. When I first started shooting weddings, I thought "external flash for sunset shots!? yuck!" And that's really because I hadn't seen the masters at work yet. All of the "flash" photography I'd seen up to that points was, well, obvious. There would be a beautifully lit Arizona sunset in the background, then BANG! The couple was a totally different tone and it was just obvious that, yes, there was a photographer there that had blasted them with artificial light to properly expose them. Maybe it was properly exposed, but in my mind, it looked horrible! Not because it wasn't technically a good photograph, but because the feel was off. I mean, how much more "posey" can you get than two people in love, standing in front of a warm, beautiful sunset, and HELLO! there's some stranger with a flash, blasting them for all the word to see? It just didn't feel natural to me. And in my mind, a lot of what wedding photography is supposed to be is the natural documentation of the day.

Now that being said, and my brides will all attest to this, no, all the gorgeous images you see that you fall in love with are not "candid." They look like they just happened, but there is really a master behind the lens, fooling you!

So today, reviewing some really fabulous images and training, I had an "ah ha!" moment. And that has to do with external light sources. I love my video light. I love that I can see where the catch lights fall. I love that I can tell the exposure I need and where I am creating shadows without having to fire off the flash and look at the results. But I've found myself underwhelmed recently with some of the results I've had. Then, listening to Scott Robert Lim, I had a figurative light go off in my head!

The dimmer the light, the more dramatic the addition of a video light will be.

(An appropriate use of video light to add drama and direction to a super dim scene)

So, if you're shooting at an ISO of 800 or greater, you might really love the drama a video light adds. The reason is that it's not that powerful a light source. So if there is a lot of ambient light, you aren't going to see the effect.

On the other hand, if you are in relatively bright ambient light, and you want a little separation between your subject and the background, or maybe you want to create some directional shadow in bright beauty light, a flash is really the only way to go. It's kind of a weird concept that the darker it is, the less light you need, but feeling this lighting puzzle piece snap in my brain was a fantastic learning moment. Special shout out to Creative Live for making all this fabulous training available! No if I can just get myself to a live workshop . . . :)

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