I sometimes tend to ignore the obvious, the obvious being that which the ancient Greeks referred to as Helios, the Sun. How could I be so distracted by radio slaves, studio flashes and softboxes – not to see that ball of fire 92,960,000 miles from my house. How could I completely forget what I first learned about photography and natural light? Easy, I ignored the obvious.
A week ago I had an opportunity to spend a day with a great photographer from work. I really admire his style and looked forward to working with him so I jumped at the chance when asked if I’d be available to help. I took on the role as his assistant just so I could see what tricks I could pick up. What was in the seventy-five pound Lightform case that I was lugging around for him? What secret gear was I going to discover? I felt like I was on the verge of a great photographic discovery! The assignments were simple, environmental executive portraits. Our time with the subjects was limited. We found an empty office with lots of windows, and no direct sunlight. He opened the magic box of goodies and pulled out his…. 5-in-1 Lastolite reflector, and that was it! That’s it? No strobes or PocketWizards? No gels or umbrellas? A 5-in-1? I have one of those…
At the end of the session we looked through his shots, and wow, the images had a beautiful, soft, natural light. The best part was no set up or breakdown. Simple; then why am I not doing this for my customers?
I decided to enlist the help of my 7 year old for a few test shots.
All I needed was my 5-in-1, light meter and camera. My result was exactly what I was expecting, yeah, I remember shooting this way, before I could afford strobes.