Friday, March 6, 2009

Flash and the Leica

Which of these two photographs was taken with a flash?

I'll reveal only that this one was done with my Elmarit 28mm f2.8.  I cannot recall what film it was, but I'm pretty sure it was Kodachrome.  For the next one, I used my Konica Hexanon 35mm f2, and the film was (true, very true!) Velvia ISO 50. 

Considering that I believe that flash photographs should NOT look as if they were taken with a flash, I must concede to being extremely proud of one of these two. 

Please, excuse the poor scanning and lousy exposure.  So far, I've been uploading scans from labs, but if I dig deep enough in the past, I find my own clumsy scans only.  They're not too bad in print, I should add, but nobody would believe it from looking at them online. 

Did you guess which one was the flash one?

I should add that I do believe in the power of flash.  It's portable light, it's useful, it's progress, and to use it, one must exercise the intellect, and guess where the light will strike.  It's not easy, so I think that most of the Leica users who bemoan about flash are actually the ones who do not know how to use it, or, worse yet, don't want to learn.  

At some point in my life, I too believed that flash photographs were only for parties and for indoors, but later, much later I learned that a flash works like salt in a meal: just a little bit of it goes a pretty long way.  In short, we must handle it with care, while enjoying the results. 

Why is that others simply reject the use of flash?  It's not like some photographs don't need it. 

Oh, well... I consider it useful, good and a blessing. Long live flash!

BTW, it's the second photo.  I used my Leica SF-20, with one full stop dialed up for underexposure (to tame the output).  Also, the shutterspeed, a typical Leica quirk, went down to 1/4th of a second.  However, instead of a well-lit cat and a dark background, I got a nicely illuminated domestic scene, in which Ben shows that he'll defend his owner's peace at any cost. 

Take care and hope to return soon! 


fexy01 said...

Longtime Leica shooter, and National Geographic photographer, William Albert Allard used flash on many occasions, but did so in such a subtle manner, that generally it's not obvious at all, and only known because he mentioned it in the technical notes accompanying the image. You've done the same here. Kudos.

Francisco Solares-Larrave said...

Thanks a lot for your kind comment! I like flash photography, as you can see, because it allows you to pack light and use it when you need it. When it's done well, it looks great. And while others complain about Leica's slow shutterspeed synch, I find it helps a lot to avoid red-eye and the overexposed foreground that appears in so many flash shots.

Again, thanks for posting!