It’s about the light, stupid

I was working with a magazine reporter a few years back and after a day together she observed, “this is really all about the light, isn’t it?”

Most of time it IS all about the light. And this gets complicated when photographers add their own light. Electronic flashes are the most common way of doing this and small, pop-up flashes are the most commonly seen types of electronic flashes. When used as the primary light source, on camera flash creates the most displeasing variety of lighting. This could be because direct on-camera flash creates DMV-style, butt ugly photos. Or, it could be because it’s a very unimaginative way of lighting which often results in unimaginative photos.

So if direct, on-camera flash equals ugly then off-camera, indirect should equal pretty. Yes, it IS all about the light.

Twenty-five years ago when I was student at the University of Missouri, professor Ken Kobre told me I could improve my photos by adding one piece of equipment. A tripod. Kobre didn’t invent the tripod but he HAS come up with one of those photo improving pieces of gear, the LightScoop. I posted on this earlier but this simple piece of gear seems to be gaining some much deserved recognition so it bears mentioning again.

The LightScoop is a small device that slides into the camera hot shot. With the pop up flash deployed, all of the strobe’s light is directed through the scoop and onto whatever reflective surface is nearby (ceilings, walls, floors). Ugly, on-camera light is magically transformed into pretty, off-camera, indirect light.



~ by keithphilpott on December 24, 2007.

2 Responses to “It’s about the light, stupid”

  1. Isn’t it also, then, all about the negative space? How do you treat a subject to make it have an impact… memorable?

  2. LT-The trick to creating a memorable image is to first create many forgettable ones. This sounds trite and a little bit smart-assed but I have had many, many more failures than successes. Over time, if you’re lucky, the number of memorable images starts to inch up.


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