Thursday, August 8, 2013

Available light - ????

"Avoid making a commotion, just as you wouldn’t stir up the water before fishing. Don’t use a flash out of respect for the natural lighting, even when there isn’t any. If these rules aren’t followed, the photographer becomes unbearably obtrusive." - Henri Cartier-Bresson - "American Photo", September/October 1997, page: 76

I am really interested in doing things a little different these days. For most of my "career", I have needed to please others more than myself. Now that I am no longer employed as a newspaper staffer, I still want to show what Will Durant called "life on the banks." That is the reason I sold all my DSLR equipment and went mirrorless. Instead of looking like a "pro", which these days seems to offend many people, I look like John Q. Public out on a lark. In some ways, the new gear performs better than my DSLRs did. And the new gear is better suited for a different type of photography. It is getting me to slow down. I find I am doing more looking for an image instead of quickly shooting so I can head to the next assignment.
To that end, the comment by Cartier-Bresson above states what to me is an obvious way of photographing in a documentary style. I have never liked using a flash and only used them when it was more of a planned event like portraits, commercial work, etc. For all my sports and concert work I never thought of using a flash. I always worked with the available light so that I could move about almost unseen. 
Working this way helps me avoid distracting flashes that would disturb a performer at a festival or an athlete during a sporting event. I worked very hard to keep my presence unnoticeable which has allowed me to be in places that most viewers would not or could not be and provide a view that they cannot see. Or capture a moment between two people that a flash would disturb.

Like between a mother and her daughter at ballet class:

Or a young violinist as he prepares in a dressing room:

Or be onstage during a jazz festival within inches of a drummer:

Or squeeze off a shot in a crowded subway car on the London Tube:

Or be up close and personal without disturbing a volleyball player as she goes for the dig:

This method of shooting is what works for me. But everyone sees differently and works differently. Not better or worse just different. With my new cameras and their expanded ISO range continuing to work this way will not be a problem. Tonight (August 8) I am shooting a theater production pro-bono for a local non-profit. It will be my first foray with the new gear. Looking forward to a new and exciting experience!

And, as always, make a comment!! Let me know what you think! Until next time, keep on shooting.....


  1. One of the things I always enjoyed was the reaction of people when they realized Rich was taking photos. They'd usually apologize for walking in front of him or being in the way somehow, but I knew in his 'stealth' mode, he'd already gotten the shot.

    1. With the same last name, one would assume I am related to this lady and she has a vested interest in this blog succeeding. And one would be right.

      This comment is from my wife of 45 years (as of 14 Oct 2013). She bought me my first camera when I was 30 years old, an Olympus OM-10 with a Zuiko 1,8/50mm. Little did she realize where that little camera would take us....

  2. Some superb shots at just the right moment to capture that special moment, Richard. Great!

    1. Thanks, David. Most of these shots was taken with a wide angle POV as I am trying to "see" that way these days. It is still taking some getting used to as I switch gears but the smaller cameras are helping me move closer without disturbing the goings-on.

      One other item of note. I was contacted by a journalist with "Cómo la hice" (translation: "How I shot it") and "QUESABESDE", a couple of Spanish-speaking websites. He had seen a shot I had taken in London on my flickr stream and wanted to do an article about the capturing of that image. Once I know when the article will appear, I will be posting it hear and updating my flickr stream and facebook page with when and where. I would like to think this is a great opportunity (the two websites get an average of a million unique hits per month) for some exposure. Wouldn't be a kick in the ass to get an assignment as a result?

    2. Sorry for the misspelling. It should be "post it HERE" rather than "post it HEAR". I find it so aggravating when I see things like this in other people's postings and even more so when I do IT!!!!

  3. Richard - I will watch out for your posting "there" (!) when the article appears. Look forward to it.