When I first started out in photography some forty-four years ago, I shot primarily Black and White. I worked for AP, UPI, and I was a Black Star photographer, a national photo syndicate. It was several years before I started working in color, and in that beginning period of time all my favorite photographers shot black and white.
Among them were:Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorthea Lange, Walker Evans, Ernst Haas, most of the photographers in my favorite photo book called The Family of Man” to name a few. Having said that, my all time favorite photographer is W. Eugene Smith. His images speak to me like no others living or dead. As it happens, one of my all time favorite quotes was said by him. He said, “Available light is any damn light that’s available.”
As I tell my online students with the BPSOP, and also in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, light is everything. You find the light and you’ll find the shot. I’ll often have a discussions with one of my fellow photographers (who insist that an on camera flash is the way to go), that in my long career I’ve never, and I mean not once ever felt that I needed this kind of contrasty harsh, bluish, hot ancillary light to make good photos.
To digress a moment, don’t you just love it when someone a couple of rows down from you uses a flash to record what’s way down on the stage…and all he’s lighting up is the back of a few heads a couple of rows in front of him. I get a better shot with just the available light.
I’m mostly an available light photographer. I’ve always found a way to use whatever available light is around me when I thought it was needed. The problem is that photographers these days just don’t take the time to look around them for help that may very well be hitting them right in the face. Remember that if you can see it, you can take a picture of it…especially now in the digital age where cameras can record images in very low light.
Even in situations where there just isn’t any actual sunlight, look for man-made light like a flashlight over on a table, or a desk lamp, or as in the photo above, a welding torch laying over against the bags of cement. I had him pick it up and make it the brightest flame he could. As I say, you just have to open your eyes and look around…somewhere lurking in the shadows is the answer to your problem.
You just gotta…Stretch Your Frame of Mind!!!
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. I still have a few spots in my next “Springtime” workshop to be in Lisbon, Portugal next May 21st. July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.
Keep those photos and questions coming into: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.