The light hasn’t changed but the source has

African mask lit with thumb light diode.

African mask lit with thumb light diode.

I was catching up on TWIP podcasts over the weekend and someone said that light hasn’t changed since Newton. True enough but the VARIETY of light sources–particularly for photographers–is galloping ahead at the speed of, well… light. Couple this with the increasing sensitivity of camera sensors and you have a genuine sea change in lighting.

Many photographers are opting for small electronic flashes over large mono-lights or power-pack/heads studio style lighting for location shoots. Part of the reason for this is that film needed more light more often to illuminate bracketed exposures of slow transparency film. But that was before the noise-free, high ISO files generated by the D3. With ISOs set at 400, 800, and 1600 the energy consumption of the small flash becomes more practical.

I have steered away from using small flashes for off-camera lighting because the recycle time is too slow and the battery appetite too big but I will be trying out Nikon’s CLS (creative lighting system) in the coming weeks when my wireless speedlight commander arrives. Sites like the Strobist have become required reading when planning new lighting strategies for small flash photography.

The practicalities of continuous light sources have also been affected by technology. The increasing sensitivity of sensors now allows for small thumb LEDs to be used for fill lighting and in some cases the main light for a photo. I also have high hopes for OLED technology which could allow large, soft light panels to be used for location lighting.

As camera and lighting technologies continue to advance I look forward to more creative and innovate use of light.


~ by keithphilpott on September 8, 2009.

9 Responses to “The light hasn’t changed but the source has”

  1. I am looking for your trip to China pictures, they are probably here but I don’t see them

  2. I did

  3. What fabulous photos of China!
    Thanks and…We love Dr. Dean!!!
    Molly in Seattle

  4. Great pictures! Nice to see Dr. Dean! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wonderful site Keith. Your images explore a story we should know more of. Dr. Dean, keep at it. A voice of reason.

  6. Einstein’s metals/photon theory is pretty cool. I am working on a battery where you can actually see the charge at any given moment, simply plug it into any source to recharge it,and cost conscience too.

  7. Still love the D3 and yes the low iso helps me out so much! I try not to use flash at all if I can. Nice site..

  8. It’s like being able to see in the dark. This camera has completely reordered my shooting strategy.

    Thanks for the response.

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