by Damian McGillicuddy Published 01/08/2010
I'm not even advocating that speed lights should be used in their 'magic ratio', 'super through the lens' guise because once you know what you're doing I guarantee that metering individual lights and the ambient illumination, then making your own creative decision regarding the lighting and 'feel' of the image, is not only going to be quicker, but is going to be immeasurably more accurate and more readily repeatable. If I've said this once I've said it a million times...no matter how sophisticated the camera bodies get, they are no match for an operator with clear creative intent and the knowledge to realise that 'vision'.
So, in essence, we are using them as a source of light. So how can we make better and more creative use of these little bundles of pocketable 'sunshine'? The answer is simple and straightforward and, interestingly, no different to any other light source. We need to be able to control and manipulate its output to create the feeling, mood and intention our image demands from the light.
I obviously have the advantage of my own range of lighting modifiers and let me tell you these 'light manipulating marvels' are just as much at home with simple speed,lights as they are with the Ranger Quadra or the Qflash, etc. It is how these units manipulate the speed lights output that transforms their usefulness from just supplying illumination to supplying a beautiful quality of light with the ability to project a sculptural, controllable, creative and useful source of light. There are genuine reasons you can go on ebay and buy an umbrella for £7.99 and then spend hundreds on a 'brand'. In many cases you get what you pay for and the quality of manufacture and its ability to do what it pertains to do is in direct correspondence to its price and is not just 'corporate greed'.
Soapbox moment: Being in the privilege position of being able to talk with many photographers of widely varying abilities it always amazes me how many photographers will gladly shell out the price of a small secondhand family car on a single camera body and not give it a second thought but are very backward at coming forward when it comes to spending money on their photography business that will genuinely see an impact on image quality and, ultimately, the bottom line profit.
ONLY quality light modifiers TOGETHER with the knowledge of how to use them and how to CREATE images of quality and distinction will help you build a business that will see you prosper - ultimately Darwin was right and it will always be survival of the fittest. If you REALLY want your skills and or business to grow and prosper there is no alternative to simply learning how to be better at what you do and it is the investment in these areas, along with a strong business plan, that will see the greatest return for the investment made! Perhaps skipping the next body upgrade you've been planning and investing that cash in augmenting your skill set would be the smartest move you ever make ;0)
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