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I had mentioned in my last post that I lost the flash tube in my strobe (since replaced). This meant that to continue environmental portraiture meant doing so with no flash. There would no longer be, at least for this session, that wink of battery powered photons.

This is not something I like to do.

Controlling the ambient exposure by bringing my own key is a cornerstone of my work. It is rare that I don’t do so, and that is most often brought about by circumstance. Like a busted flash tube. Or forgotten triggers. And yet this is not the first time I’ve gone au naturale.

The truth, however, is either more (or less) than this. What happens is that I bring the light later, in post production, rather than right there on location. Even though there is a natural direction to the ambient (sun), to get the look that I want I need to provide an assist. Most often that is done with supplemental lighting. Barring that, as in this case, it is done using Photoshop.

As in this image of Kindera:

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

If photography is all about lighting (and it is), then lighting control is the tool that enables an image to reflect what the photographer wants to convey. It has to be done some way. My preference is to largely do it at the time of exposure, and to do it by bringing my own key.

Sure it can be done sans flash. Photographers do it all the time. But filling or key shifting appears most natural to me. It is the way I control light.

But when I can’t, working outside my comfort zone on occasion is good. Changing it up every now and then is not a bad thing. It forces me to think differently, to prepare differently, to shoot differently.

But it also reenforces my love of strobe.  Flash tube, how I did missed thee.

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