To Flash… or Not To Flash

IMG_8385 copy … that is the critical question. Fleeting moments, it’s an instant call. You get one try… pick. It doesn’t come very often you get to shoot one with and one without flash. It’s a choice. Here David sat long enough for me to get two shots. The Canon G11 white balances automatically. Great! But it’s still ambient light you deal with. So it’s not quite right. The natural lighting gives less detail in the eyes and no gleam or catch light for the eye. Flash is a little too bright and a bit too artificial for my taste. I would pick the natural light. I’m not a fan of obsessive manipulation in Photoshop, so this is what it is.IMG_8384 copy



Technical: Nikon D90, 1/200 sec, f14, focal length 20

Susan sent me two shots. It was hard for her to choose. There’s something to like about both. It’s a matter of taste since only one will make the final cut. And the discarded one will languish on your hard drive never to brighten your monitor again, an orphan. Ahh… tugging on your heartstrings…(Susie, Kevin says, never throws out anything.) As to digital images, why throw out anything. Actually Susan does discard images to make room on her memory card. And, I actually don’t discard any images. So everything I shoot stays buried on the hard drive. My hard edits (everyone seems to have their own system) leaves me with about 10% of keepers. Try as I might I can’t whittle the number down much more than that. And at that number you are asking for boredom to settle in among your viewers. There are a few really outstanding shots. And then there are the collections of events. Of the two shots Susan sent, I like this one. We see the figure without an explanation. As to the plate, you still need someone to wonder what was going on. It’s a good thing to have too many good images. Keep in mind that the National Geographic guys edit thousands of shots to a single or two, which illustrate the article. Tough.





Technical: Nikon D90, 1/200 sec, f14, focal length 20


Just a couple of dudes sharing a moment, eh Susan? As to why stand on the plate…? If you’re environmental, you don’t want that plate to fly away. You’ve heard of flying saucers? You need the caption to tell what they are holding. Some illustrations need explanation. I did wonder why stand on the plate, too. To be picky, you could have moved the horizon down a little to isolate the heads and hands against that great blue sky background.

Mixed lighting

Technical: iPhone 4s, 1/16 sec, f2.4, focal length 4.28

That iPhone got a workout. Lots of shots between the Endeavor and the party. This one looks like a self portrait. The color balance is not swell. Flash is just a bit too bright. But it’s nice to see my son happy and enjoying the evening. When you consider the conditions, the young folks have made an art out of taking their own pictures.


David, Sarah

Technical: iPhone 4s, 1/913 sec, f2.4, focal length 4.28

I’m not sure if this is a self portrait or it was done by a friend. David’s right arm could be holding the phone. There is background flare which highlight’s Sarah’s hair. The exposure is low in the foreground and probably could have used a fill flash to brighten up the colors and detail. Otherwise for the moment it was a shot of two happy people at a wedding.

Honey Crisp

Technical: Nikon D90, 1/200 sec, f6.3, focal length 34

Did focus…The Honey Crisp apple really is that big! Caption “OH…Snow White!” the not so evil queen! Sweet Matilda!

“Oh…Snow White!” the not so evil queen! Susan says that this is a big apple. It’s really a cute kid, too. I have no complaints here. She shared the shot at the apple orchard on apple picking day. Thanks.

Great profile shot. Most grown ups don’t look good in profile. It’s a nose and wrinkle thing. But the button nose of a cute kid is usually a winner. The eye is nearly center, which goes to show you that breaking the rules sometimes is a good thing. There is enough going on to make this work. Nice shot.


Technical: Canon G11, 1/250 sec, f4, focal length 18

We were in a holding pattern at 15 feet to decompress before surfacing. No dice. I popped straight to the surface and couldn’t get my butt down for beans. So I hovered and shot this image. The light is brighter so the shutter speed is faster. There was just no way to coordinate and pose this feeding mass of black fish. Something was tasty on the reef. There’s not too much to love here. You can see an eye or two. The composition is … ugh. There’s not to much detail or color except for the blue edging. I have a lot of these images. I thought to show some mistakes, lest you believe everything comes out great.


Technical: Nikon D90, 1/125 sec, f3.5, focal length 18

I like this portrait Susan shot of her grand daughter. The lighting is sweet. There is enough blurring of the background to make it pleasing. Yeah, it could be tweaked a bit. But mostly this is fine. It’s good as a horizontal image. I might crop/zoom closer. But the trade off is to loose the doll. I think it’s an important element. It’s something to think about. What to include or exclude? This is the decision of what the photographer sees to be important to their image. Again, I would encourage experimenting in the camera. Take a couple more images rather than think that you can compensate in Photoshop.


Technical: Canon G11, 1/1600 sec, f4, focal length 8.1mm

I’m not thrilled with the color which is predominantly brown. Susan didn’t have a choice. She’s in the water and got a face on view. Once again it’s a candid shot. The grouping is spread and this dictates a wide angle shot. It reminds me of the game ‘statue.’ We would throw kids randomly and they stood frozen in funny positions. We would laugh at the strange tableau. You got reflections. The horizon is near the top of the frame. More sky and I think that the foreground kids would have been underexposed. It’s a good shot under the circumstances. There’s not too much you can do with the basic brown.


Technical: Canon G11, 1/1000 sec, f4, focal length 6.1mm

Susan sent this shot and had already post processed with a vignette. I like this better than the original shot. She was unhappy about the pole. Photoshop and a bit of time can make about anything disappear. To me it’s too much work. I don’t object to the pole myself. And in the viewfinder if you find a pole, move the kids or the camera, or both. It’s been a while since I took an image thinking, “Oh, I’ll just fix it in Photoshop later.” I tend to move camera and subject and save a lot of editing time. Sometimes you can’t always do that, but it helps to think before you press the shutter.