Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shoot available

When I first got into the photojournalism game, my boss accompanied me on my first assignment to show me the ropes. Seems a little boy had found an injured squirrel and had nursed it back to health. The paper wanted a picture of the kid with his somewhat wild pet.

When we got to the home the little guy was quite excited and ran for his squirrel. With the squirrel perched on his arm, the little boy waited impatiently to have his picture taken. I shot a few available light shots with my Pentax Spotmatic to kill time as my boss set up two lights. He insisted on the highest quality for the images destined for the paper. Always use two lights, he said, and a 120 Rolleiflex camera.

As he worked the little boy's smile sagged and the squirrel began getting antsy.

With everything in place, my boss started the shoot. Snap! WHOOMP! The two flashes fired. The little boy closed his eyes and the squirrel headed for a place unknown, not to be seen again, at least not until after we left.

When we got back to the paper, my boss's one and only picture, shall we say, sucked --- big time. My available light picture ran in the paper. I never touched the Rolleiflex and I rarely used two lights. One of the other photographer taught me to use bounce flash instead.

Today, I still try to shoot available as much as possible. Today's picture was shot at f/2.5, at 1/80th second at an ISO of 640 with my Canon S90 set to Lowlight automatic.

There is a large window behind me. That's important. Set the scene such that it unfolds where there is ample light. Don't make the shoot any harder than it needs to be. Think light, think time of day, think location and then sit back, camera in hand, and let serendipity take over.

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