Three Myths That Keep Film Photographers From Using Off Camera Lights

Three Myths That Keep Film Photographers From Using Off Camera Lights by Sandra Coan

About ten years ago I was gifted a set of studio strobes from a friend of mine who was closing her photography studio.  

I had always wanted to learn lighting, but looking at the strobe heads and soft boxes just stress me out.  It seemed hard and technical and not "my style".

So I told myself that lighting just wasn't for me, put the entire set up in storage and left it there for five years.  

During that time, I struggled with light.  

You see, I live in Seattle, and it's dark here a majority of the time.  When I was shooting digitally, I would just crank my ISO up to 6400 and make it work.  But when I made the switch back to film I knew something had to change.  If I was going to shoot film inside, in Seattle, I was going to have to learn how to use lighting.

So I did.  And it changed everything.

Since then I've become somewhat of an off camera lighting evangelist.  I sing it's praises every chance I get!  And every time I talk about it I hear the same reasons from photographers on why they don't want to use it.  So today I want to talk about the three myths that keep photographers form using off camera lighting and why they are just not true.

Here we go.

Myth #1: Lighting is hard

I used to think this too.  But it's not.  In fact, it's really, really easy.  Just force yourself to start.

Take your strobe or your flash, put it on a tripod, put a light modifier on it, and tell yourself it's a window.

Light is light.  

If you can do it with the sun shining through a window, you can do it with a bulb shining through a soft box!

Myth #2: You Can't Be Spontaneous When Using lighting

This was my biggest worry what kept me from using lights for year.  You see, I work with kids. And kids run and jump and move a lot.  I wanted to be able to capture that movement.

And I can.  In fact, strobes make it better!

The flash freezes movement, so you can capture a kid in mid jump and not get motion blur!  


Sandra Coan Three Myths That Keep Film Photographers From Using Off Camera Lights

Myth #3: Lighting looks fake. I want soft and natural.

This is the biggest lighting myth around.  Lighting, when done right, can look as soft and beautiful as natural light.  

This is how I do it...

I turn my lights down until I get a reading of F4 in the shadows.  That way I can soot at F4 or even F2.8 and have a prefectly exposed image that looks soft and just like natural light. 

Not sure how to meter with strobes and flash, check out my FREE guide on metering in all kinds of light!

Three Myths That Keep Film Photographers From Using Off Camera Lights by Sandra Coan for Little Bellows

Pro Tip: If you are going to be shooting with off camera lighting be sure to check your camera's sync speed.  The sync speed is the fasted shutter speed recommend for your camera when working with a flash of any kind!

Joyce's Quick Tip- 5 sec edit on basic scans

Welcome to the first installment of Joyce's Quick Tip!   This week, I want to take a couple of minutes to show you how I quickly edit a basic scan from The FIND Lab. In my Intro to Film Photography workshop, Embrace The Grain, I emphasize the importance of achieving properly exposed image.  If you have been in my workshop, you know how I sing the praises of a handheld meter!  It's ridiculous, LOL!!   Handheld meter is a must-have tool in photography. The concept of having a close to perfect in-camera image is also true for those that are shooting with a digital camera.  When you have a beautifully exposed image, you are no longer a slave to post processing.  You will have the full control and the flexibility with which to create the images you have always envisioned. Enjoy!

©Joyce Kang-Joyces Quick Tip Sept 15, 2014 Is there any topic or tutorial, in either digital or film photography, you would like to see in the future posts?  We are all ears!!  Tell us your ideas below in the comments section!

Blog Contributor and Writer:  Joyce Kang

Joyce Kang is a fine art children and family photographer in Austin, Texas.  Besides being Little Bellow's blog contributor, she is also teaching an online intro to film workshop, Embrace The Grain,  through In Beauty and Chaos Photography Forum.  She is a mom of four boys, a wife to her BFF and a helpless addict to coffee.

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