On camera flash is punk rock

by JamesNYCJuly 14. 2011 06:41

Image Copyright David Harry Stewart 2011

1DSIII, 550 EZ, 24-70 zoom at 35mm, f10, 1/100th, ASA400

I had a conversation the other day with my buddy Sam Grawe, editor of Dwell, talking about doing new kinds of work. After about 5 minutes, Sam in his genius way, off handedly pronounces ” flash on camera is punk rock”. Sam is a genius, or at least the smartest giant I know. Sam is like 6-8″.

About 5 months ago I started working on using on camera flash. Before my expedition into the crass world of the Sunpack, it had been alll about seeing the light. Where is it, how can I fake it, how can I control it. The thing about on camera flash is that all that goes away. There is no existing light. The photo becomes about subject, form and context. As in who is the person and what are they doing. It was one of those styles that I truthfully did not have much respect for. So I gave it a try, and I have to say, it was really hard learning to see in this new way. It was like I had to shut off this other way of seeing and add in this new application. It took a good 2 months to get the camera+lens+flash rig figured out, and then get the look wired into my head.

It was the best thing I could have done. It freed up my ability to take pictures anytime anyplace with no crew, no lights, totally minimal gear, just me, camera and Mr Speedlight. It is all about the instant, the now, the fun of lets just go wild right now and I will shoot it. No setting lights, no looking for the afternoon sun, nope, lets just be wild and see what happens. Awesome!

If anyone ever saw the Ramones play, it was sort of like standing next to a top fuel dragster at the nationals, except in a very small dark crowded room. It was a full on assault, totally awesome, an hour straight through of no breaks. They had one speed, it was full on all the time. One of the most fun things ever. All the music world thought they were crap, I mean what did they know 3 cords, maybe 4? Where was the skill? But who cared, I sure didn’t. They were so much fun, and they got right to the heart of what it felt like to be a teenager.

All this makes me think I may have been in danger of turning into some sort of Jethro Tull. Nightmare.

Sometimes, actually most of the time, I find that the thing that I disparage, judge badly, think requires no skill, or is just plain stupid, is exactly the thing that I need to do to grow. Me no want to wake up one day an ugly short dude carrying flute. No way is that ever happening over here.

PLease vist Davids Harry Stewarts Site for more great stuff.

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