I archive my photos by year, so from time to time I find myself going into past libraries to look for a particular picture. Most often I would chance upon an old favorite, and then another, and then one more after that. And just like that I’m lost in a labyrinth of nostalgia. I found the images below during my last ‘dig’ and what struck me was how much they reminded me of what got me excited in photography again — using off-camera flash on location. It seems that in recent months, I have nearly forgotten about the latter part.
I specifically chose small hot shoe flashes because I could afford them and they in turn afforded me mobility. With a capable assistant, I could stick a flash on a monopod and just shoot away. Of course, it did come with limitations. Its power was limited and most often you had to modify the light so it would have a character that would fit the look of the image that you’ve envisioned. But I remember that in working with these limitations, I gained a better understanding of the nature of light and became a better photographer in the process. Sure, working on location can be quite a handful since one is at the mercy of the elements (fickle sunlight, wind-blown umbrellas, etc.), but I remember how satisfying it was to be able to solve or work around problems on-site.
Like in the picture below, I had to get creative to ‘overpower’ an overzealous afternoon sun.
Or in this indoor environmental portrait, I had to make the location (a chemistry research lab) more interesting and less
I felt that there was a reason that I found myself sifting through my archives a few days ago, and although I forgot what picture I was looking for in the first place, I did find what I thought I had lost.