I shot some photos at a block party yesterday. A block BBQ, to be precise. And I would like to share a few of those here, in order to convey a few points you may find useful.

First, the colours. As you see, they are vivid. Did I pop them up in “post”? No. I used a flash. Using a flash allowed me to slightly decrease background exposure, which makes colours saturated. The foreground is lit by my flash. If you go two stops darker, or more, for the background, you really ought to use off camera flash. But up to about a stop and a half you can get away with on camera flash. (Manual mode, 1/250 sec, f/8, 250 ISO; TTL Flash). Yes, all 8 of these images involve flash.

It is for this reason that I am sad when I hear “I am a natural light photographer”, as I so often do. Many photographers say that—some, famous and experienced. In my view, at worst, saying this means “I do not understand flash”. And it always means “I am deliberately and knowingly depriving myself of half the creative options out there”. I can do available light or flash light. An “available light only” photographer can only use, well, available light on;y. That seems a shame, to deprive yourself of creative techniques you may in fact want, or even need, to use on occasion.

A few more examples:

You see the same here. All pictures in this post involved the flash.

You also see also that I made it easy on myself by using a fairly wide angle lens (mainly the 16-35, but on a 7D, so that means 24-50 in “real” numbers).

You will also notice that as much as possible, I shot with late afternoon sun (the “golden hour”). Not always possible, but when it is available, use it.

And above all, you will start to notice that the best shot are moments. Moments where something specific happens. Not just dead-looking poses.

The next time you shoot an event, try to use these techniques. You may not like them; you may say “that is so not my style”. Fine—but you do need to know them.  You owe it to your family, customers, whoever you are photographing.


Let me photograph you; your kids; your family. See and for samples, prices, and more. Special offer this week for headshots: but with or without special offers, go for it and have your family captured forever in beautiful photos. Please do it… it is the only time travel you will ever do.


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