I hate flash. I do. I really, really do. Not to say that it isn’t useful on occasion, even for the nature photographer. In skilled hands, in a studio, the results can be spectacular… assuming you appreciate that sort of thing. I do not, though it’s not for lack of effort. It’s always a good idea to expand one’s skill set, and as I mentioned, even when photographing nature flash can be useful. So I’ve been reading, experimenting, watching courses about flash photography on the wonderful creativeLIVE website, and absorbing the works of the world’s great fashion and portrait photographers… but I just can’t seem to muster much enthusiasm for flash photography. Sure, I marvel at the technical expertise on display, but from an aesthetic standpoint, the resulting images leave me cold. To me, the photos have a clinical quality. Staged, too perfect, devoid of that spontaneous magic moment in time feeling.
That’s really the issue for me. I don’t dislike flash, as some might suggest, because my ignorance of proper technique makes me fearful of using flash. Until recently I’ve never made a concerted effort to learn proper technique because flash photography represents the antithesis of what photography is to me. I’m not interested in creating light. I consider myself a light stalker. I search out nature’s light, and try to render it in a unique and personal way, in an attempt to share both the beauty of and my emotional response to the natural world. The magic is in capturing that singular, fleeting moment in time when light, subject and personal vision all come into perfect alignment. It’s a task that takes great patience, and an ability to truly see the light, and know how the camera will see it(which is different from how the human eye perceives light). This is the challenge that motivates me as a photographer.
Yet sometimes, the light refuses to cooperate, and we have no choice but to manufacture it ourselves if we wish to create an image of a particular subject. So I soldier on, struggling to master the vagaries of flash photography… killing time, waiting and watching for the nature’s true magic to happen.