Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/10/08

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Subject: Re: [Leica] strobe vs. naturtal light
From: (Ted Grant)
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 1998 14:36:37 -0700

JG wrote in response to my:

><<<<<<<My driving force on light is the painter Rembrandt, the
>photojournalists of LIFE, LOOK, Paris Match, Der Stern and some of the old
>time photographers
>who had neither hot lights nor strobes. They just knew how to use the
>existing available natural light.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

JG responded:

<<<<>They were also shooting B&W. Color has put new demands and strobe is
one of the requirements as part of the process.>>>>>>>>

Hi JG,

hell no mon ami!  Light is light and it doesn't matter if you're shooting
colour or B&W!  All you need to know is which light works for you and what

There is beautiful light for colour: dawn, the twilight zone after sunset,
the colored rays after a great storm, the evening lights of Paris or
Stockholm. The wild lights of the Ginza in Tokyo or the gorgeous light of
sun rise on Tahiti!

Or just off the water of where I live in beautiful Victoria, BC Canada.:)

And do you know what.........strobe has no bearing when you know how to use
the actual everyday light of the world! :)

Sure there are times when I have used strobes and very well....they are
still a pain in the ass, because you set them and they still don't look as
good as seeing what Mother nature put in your face!

As far as whether the "old guys shot B&W or colour" isn't relevant!

Understanding light and recognizing what it does for you and your
photography doesn't come easy. It takes time to recognize it and what works
and what doesn't.  And yes there are times the light sucks and the content
still comes out being a million dollar photo. ____ be that colour or B&W

99% of the time strobes are required for " Exposure value" only, not for
creativity of recognizing why you are being motivated in the first place!

It seems some folks get on that strobe is required for "twinkying" the
photo and they are right in some cases, however it still comes down to the
question: is it really necessary?   "Do I really need this flash thing to
just lighten something or do I want to capture what is turning me on right

At times it's the $64,000 question.  Me? I always opt in favour of what is
turning me on and it sure as hell isn't a flash!  As I only see a flash of
light that may or may not do something for the exposure. :)

Flash is a visual disturbance unless you are doing commercial work, where
obviously in some cases it is required .......... although I get hired to
shoot because I don't disturb people and I don't use flash and I still get
pictures that clients just shake their heads and say, " How do you do that?
The last guy we had was flashing all the time, a hell of a constant
disturbance.  it sure is great to look at natural looking pictures." :)
(please no applause!) ;)

Then I start to feel guilty because I'm going to charge a fair chunk of
dollars more than the other guy, simply because I know they paid him a
fortune and I'm basically doing a reshoot.  Besides they feel I've given
them something __extra special__ without the disturbance of flash! :) Ergo
they pay more!!!!! :)

Hey a hell of deal! :) I'm not complaining, as it took me 40 years to
figure out that all along this is what clients wanted,,, "the natural look
and not all the twinky looking stuff!" :)

OK guys and gals don't get on my case because I've made it sound so
simplistic. Sure there are times when flash or extra lighting of some kind
is necessary! I just try to avoid them and if I have to face it.......then
I hire a guy who knows lighting! :) Now that's being simple and less
aggravating for ones self!:)

Bottom line?  Do you need flash? Yep on some assignments.  Do you need it
as much as you think you do?   Nope!  Just learn how to make what is
motivating you in the first place work and you'll be cool!  And you'll have
great images.

Ted Grant
This is Our Work. The Legacy of Sir William Osler.