Light is a vital aspect of photography—maybe the single most important element. We often assume that we have to adapt our photography to whatever light is available, but that’s not always true. We can create our own light.
Flash is one of the most effective ways of doing that, but flash technique and equipment can be complicated and intimidating. I’d been a serious photographer for a long time before I ever used flash. In fact I was assisting Moose Peterson with a workshop in Montana in the early ’90s, and as he tried to attach a flash to my camera he said, “This is a virgin hotshoe!” It was true: no flash had ever been mounted on that camera. Moose shook his head in amazement, and then loaned me an old flash of his that he didn’t use any more, encouraging me to experiment with it.
I guess I took that advice and ran with it, eventually using flash in highly complex ways to make some of my best-known nighttime images. But even if you have no desire to take things this far, learning to use flash can add an extra dimension to your photography. It’s especially effective with people, but can also be used in many interesting ways for landscapes.
Maybe I’ll write a post about using flash for landscapes sometime, but in the mean time Craft & Vision has just released a new eBook called Making Light, by Piet Van Den Eynde, and I think it’s a great introduction to general flash technique, and especially for using flash with people. Piet (pronounced Pete) does an excellent job of making the sometimes complex world of flash photography easy to understand. He encourages you to take the flash off the camera (absolutely essential in my opinion), and shows you exactly how to do that. I especially liked his examples—nine in all—showing how he used minimal equipment to add light to his photographs of people. Piet likes to travel by bicycle, so that forces him to keep his equipment simple!
As always, this Craft & Vision eBook is only five dollars. What’s more, until midnight, August 21st, you can get Making Light for $4 (discount code LIGHT4). Or you can buy five eBooks for the price of four (discount code LIGHT20). That includes my eBook Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, so if you don’t already own a copy this is a great opportunity to get both Light & Land, Making Light, and three other Craft & Vision eBooks for only $20. (I’ve reviewed two more of these eBooks in the past: A Deeper Frame by David duChemin, and The Evocative Image by Andrew S. Gibson.)
Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBook Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.