When I first graduated from point and shoot to DSLR I was surprised to discover that the general consensus seemed to be that on camera flash was not an acceptable form of lighting for serious photography. I found this particularly disappointing as I rather enjoyed the novelty of how the flash popped up from time to time like I was playing a game of Buckaroo.
Taking this advice to heart I made the decision to disable my flash and spent the following year with that little fella pushed firmly down never to see the light of day. Although I now recognise this was possibly a slight over reaction, that year taught me an awful lot about how to make the best use of other available light.
I was suddenly plunged into a dark world that couldn’t be illuminated at the press of a button. So how to go about bringing some light back into my photos?
Firstly, and probably most obviously, I started to pay attention to other light sources; noticing the natural contrast of light in rooms, appreciating how light from a window could make an image by giving it depth instead of switching on the rooms ceiling bulb, and finding ways to maximise the light around by simply asking my subjects to move nearer to white walls or open doors.
Next up came reflectors. As the name suggests, this is really just anything that reflects light. This is a very basic but highly versatile tool that’s available in models ranging from free (white card, crumpled up tin foil) to slightly more expensive but still very reasonable (pop up double sided multi coloured).
Finally, by getting a new lens I suddenly found my f stop no longer bottomed out at f/5.6. A 50mm 1.4 prime lens has the ability to let in so much more light than the kit lens supplied with my camera that previously dark rooms were flooded with light. Of course I had a lot of very blurry photographs, but they weren’t dark!