I’ve just discovered there is something of a controversy when it comes to natural light and what I’ll refer to as “assisted” – i.e. flash, reflectors, etc.
Kind of a silly argument as different situations call for different approaches.
Personally I’m not inclined to shoot in a controlled situation, and by that I mean staged as in studios, portraiture, or those SI swimsuit editions.
So I assume that makes me a “natural light” shooter, which can come with an assortment of challenges, gratifying rewards, and also implies I’m looking for something more than the easy shot, nor a shot where every nuance is controlled.
There is obviously a time and place for assisted light, but this particular topic arose following a conversation with a friend who told me they had recently read an article online that if a person characterized themselves as a natural light shooter then the reality could only be they were basically ignorant when it came to how to use assisted light.
I’d say that’s a fairly high handed and arrogant statement that among other things ignores the fact that light can also be manipulated through aperture and ISO not to mention the position taken prior to activating the shutter and why people pursue fast lenses.
Some amazing things can be achieved with assisted lighting, and the same can be said of post editing by raising or lowering EV value for one thing – and the truth of the matter is in the digital world a minuscule amount of photos make their appearance without having undergone some degree of post processing whether it be converting RAW and or an assortment of manipulative layers.
But to imply anyone who opts for natural light is somehow ignorant speaks if not to a lack of tolerance and snobbery then to a greater ignorance in my opinion.
Bottom line is people should follow their own likes and dislikes – above all photography should be fun and not some rigidly controlled activity based on the opinions of others.
Personally I haven’t any interest in Lomo photography, but I don’t believe that entitles me to say those who do don’t know how to do anything else, and I’ve seen some examples I like and believe were well executed for that genre.
This natural light includes what is commonly referred to as the “golden hour” – that period of time when the light either increases during sunrise or decrease during sunset, and the golden hour has long be a favorite of many a photographer.
I’ve yet to encounter anyone who could physically manipulate the amount of light during those periods, so I guess it must be said they are natural light shooters – no flash or reflector directed towards the waxing or waning sun.
And unless you’re shooting wildlife at a zoo I don’t believe a great many will be opting for flash or strobes if they want their subject to stick around for more than one photo.
Now it isn’t uncommon for macro photographers to use additional light in the field and it would be difficult to argue with their success, no more so than those who do macro sans additional light – both will experience success and failure, you’ll see the keepers but not the discards.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods and off the beaten path where it is singularly about natural light as I don’t have nor care to have “assistants” lugging equipment around for me or setting up shots – if that works for others well and good, but it doesn’t for me.
Photography is considered to be an art form, and like all art the “artists” have their own style and interpretations, I’d say that’s a good thing – if not photography could very easily become a sterile by rote environment akin to one of those paint by number paintings rather than beauty being in the eye of the beholder, or perhaps in this instance the shooter.
So if asked I would say be inventive, creative, don’t always trod the beaten path and capture those images only you can you take – let them be your watermark and have some fun along the way.
If someone has a problem with the way you shoot that’s exactly what it is …. their problem.
I met a man once, a photographer, who wanted to collect cameras for his return trip to Africa – his reason for doing so was to place them in the hands of children.
I thought that was a great idea as the perspective would be entirely different and the photos they took would reflect the spontaneity and uncluttered imagination of a child devoid of grids, formulas, and rules.
I’d like to see a similar approach being made on the rez – if such were the case new stories would be told and new chapters added to the narrative.