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Picture of the Week

August 18, 2010
Night time cruise

A laughing driver joins the Neon Cruise through downtown The Dalles. Copyright Mark B. Gibson/The Dalles Chronicle

Outside of the sports arena, most of the photojournalists I’ve met abhor flash photography. It’s “natural light” or nothing for them, and they go to great length to avoid using flash. Fast lenses and high ISO settings can do a lot, but sometimes flash is the only answer to a particular situation.

Not only is flash sometimes the only way to photograph an event, it can also be one of the most useful and creative tools a photojournalist can use. This shot from the “Neon Cruise” through downtown The Dalles is a case in point. I wanted a shot that showed the movement of the cars, but also captured the late night feeling of the event. I tried long exposures, letting the cars drive through a steady (tripod mounted camera) exposure. Nope, didn’t really work. I added the flash, a little better but the motion was wrong, even after I set the flash to fire at the end of the exposure, instead of at the beginning. I started panning the camera, following the subject with the camera as it passed, through a 3 or 4 second exposure. Much better. I concentrated on convertibles, in hopes of getting some people in the shot. This is one of those photographs. I then tried zooming the flash in to illuminate only a portion of the frame… I think that would have worked the best, but by then the crowd was thinning and the convertibles had vanished.

I describe all this not as a how-to, but to show how easy it is now to work with flash in the digital space. You can experiment and work through a variety of scenarios, monitoring the pictures as you go, and arrive where you want to in a very quick and easy fashion. More importantly, you can be confident that you actually have something that will work, and can continue experimenting. Back in the days of film, you had to measure distances, calculate an exposure, make a few educated guesses and hope for the best.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. clytie permalink
    August 18, 2010 18:24

    It looks like they were having a blast – what a fun picture!

    Thank you for the technical stuff … as usual it went wheeeeeee right over my head and exploded somewhere to my left. Someday I would like you to SHOW me some of this stuff in person!!! Maybe some of it would hit the target!

  2. August 30, 2010 20:56

    I like the way you caught the movement of the vehicle, but also that big smile.

    I like the technical descriptions…feeds my brain and I think about how to experiment with the settings you speak of. I’m such a babe at photography still.

    I would not be able to do photography at all if digital hadn’t come along. It used to cost way too much money, for shots that might not even come out.

    This is a GREAT photo!

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