When I visited my parents farm in Northern Virginia last week i did what I always do…roam the fields looking for something fun to shoot. On one end of the farm the trees help frame up objects, and make a shot a little more interesting. One thing I knew though was that when I took the photo I would have too much dynamic range in the photograph. In this case, the trees provided framing around a trailer and my parents home. The foreground item I wanted to include in both shots fell in the shadows and would not provide any anchor if they were too dark. Why you ask? Eyes are attracted to light, and in any scene you look at your eye always goes to the brightest part of the scene. That is just the way our bodies work.
So I pulled out my little flash and set it up for wireless shooting, aimed it at the foreground item of interest, and shot away! I made several exposures to see if I was getting the thought process down and to share them with my blog post for the week.
I the first shot of the trailer you’ll see the first in sequence has flash hitting the woodpile. The pile is lit enough to tell you something is there, and puts the scene into context. In the second slide the slash does not fire. The woodpile becomes a dark mass of nothing important. It adds nothing to the photo. In the final shot of the house you’ll see the woodpile illuminated low in frame, underexposed leaves framing the house and a really “hot” house that pushes the other end of the dynamic range. The flash again provides context as well as helps the camera keep everything just about inside its capabilities. In both sequences I hope you can see that a flash or reflector can be a very powerful asset in landscape photography. It is a subject and technique that is explored by the masters, and should be by us as well!