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(Natural) Light Confessional

I belong to the church of electronic strobe, studio sect. I am here to confess that I have strayed.

It was only once, and I had reason. Or excuses. For that I am not really deeply sorry. And I did, after all, start the day with my beloved strobes. It was only afterwards that I fell into temptation.

You see, I went into my project wanting to simplify. Control. So it was studio and my strobes.

My subject was 3. And a half.

And then we headed to the beach for some informal portraits.

There must have been an inner voice telling me not to bring lights. Call it intuition Call it laziness. Call it luck. Call it reality.

You see my subject, Nathan, as soon as he hit the beach started behaving like, well, a 3 year old. And a half. There was no way I was going to pose him or get him to stay in the light. I even resorted to continuous focus and 5 fps on the shutter. For the most part, he was a blur.

I shot him with a 70-200 wide open. My mentor, Don Giannatti, once quipped to students at his workshop: “I don’t understand you guys with fast lenses who come in here and shoot f/8”. There are times I do shoot f/8, but wide aperture is definitely my style – lights or not – particularly with this lens.

I am happy with the results.



That focus falloff – really rapid at 200mm – is the allure of the wide aperture. I strive for it even with strobe outside (using a variable ND filter to cut the light to meet my shutter speed limitations).

The light is flat, to be sure, but I think this works well for a child his age. On adults I prefer more of a direction to the light. These images are also much more high key – again fitting for the subject. Sprinkle in a little of the Fadel post processing and, well, there you have it.

I may have to stray again, and there is an opportunity coming up for me to do so.

For my penance I will clean my camera’s sensor and say ‘Joe McNally” 50 times while checking the batteries in my Pocket Wizards.

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