Flash -or more bad photography

I started a new post the other day about why I rarely used flash when taking pictures, then, wouldn’t you know it, I found myself in a position where I absolutely had to use flash.

I’ve been requisitioned? Commissioned? to do a series of head shots/portraits. They’ve all got to be lit exactly the same way, and everything lined up just so, so that the subject’s head fills the frame in the same way.

Normally, this wouldn’t be too big of a deal, but when you have to be spot on every time, -almost as uniform as a cookie cutter, and there is a deadline, well, you can’t be fucking around.

Then, there’s the problem that we all have different sized heads. Different lengths and styles of hair. Pulling back to include curly hair will make the person’s head appear smaller in the frame. And the light won’t be hitting them with the same intensity, or from the same angle…


I don’t like flash. There. I said it. It’s big, it’s intrusive, it’s a pain in the ass for those who are getting blasted with it, it creates horrible reflections on naturally oily skin (like mine) and flattens out contour, removing all natural depth.

But there’s no other way, I gotta do it. (Actually, there is another way, but because it would be so labour intensive, and time consuming, it would be horribly impractical.)

So I dusted off my flashes the other day, and spent the good portion of an afternoon taking bad self portraits. The trick with flash is, is to not make it seem like you’re using flash. And that means getting it off camera, and using more than one, if you can. And in my case, having a backdrop set up so that it’s completely uniform from shot to shot.

The difference between casual portraiture, and controlled, or studio photography, is that the subject is coming to you instead of you being out and about taking pictures and stumbling into a situation. It’s huge.

So, I’m good to go. Pretty sure that I’ve done the groundwork so things should go smoothly.

In the mean time, here’s a picture of a chair. In a field. In the snow. It’s old and worn out, but the image of it managed to survive all of my Great Photographic Imaging Purges over the years so I’ll give it that. Taken in about 1990, or so. I still like it. I still don’t know why.

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