Making good use of available light.

I can't tell you how many times I've hired a new assistant, gone on location and had him or her start setting up lights willy-nilly once we get to a location. I don't always want to set up a light let alone many lights... So many scenes are just better without extra lights. I find that more and more situations just call for a judicious dose of fill in lighting, limited to very small areas. A color balanced LED panel or just a tiny squirt of flash.

In the case above I was perfectly happy to put my camera on a tripod, compose and shoot.  If you need to stretch out your day then, by all means, start grabbing the light stands and sandbags.  But if you bid your job correctly and you're getting paid by the use or by the image a quick test shot and some good location juggling might be just the key to getting what you want. Quickly and with no fuss.

Camera: Canon 5D2. Lens Zeiss 85mm 1.4. Lights? Whatever the architect spec'd.


  1. Absolutely. I think one thing that is overlooked often is the 'believability' of the final image. Lighting is great to overcome limitations of a set, camera, location - but rarely do we want to 'see' lighting. So if you can get away with available light, you're guaranteed believability. And the fewer lights you add, the few lights that might become obvious.

  2. This is a wonderful photo, and yes, as Jan wrote, with a 'believable' light. Thanks for sharing it Kirk!

  3. Lovely photo... it seems more documentary style to me than if "studio" lighting was used and evident. Something tells me the guy in red could tell some stories.

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  5. As someone who has finally bought my first "serious" digital camera (and even on the film side I recognize 1983 as the pinnacle of camera design), these pictures show the magic of digital. White balance is just another setting - not a black art of filters and film types and filter-packs at print time and gels on flashes (well - still a little bit of that).

    Update: I just read your next post
    and you start talking about exactly the kind of color balance issues I was thinking about :)

  6. What was the ISO on this shot?

  7. Scott, probably 800. I don't recall exactly. Could be 400.


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