because it's good to learn new tricks | Week 1 of learning to use an on-camera flash | Mobile AL family photographer

I am a natural-light photographer. Photography depends on light, so being a natural-light photographer means that I only use light that occurs naturally in a scene to take a photograph. Most of the time this is sunlight, although it can occasionally be other kinds of light like lamps.

{Sidenote, if you're curious to read more of my journey of learning photography, take a peek at this blog post from a couple years ago!} 

I LOVE looking for beautiful spots of light. You can ask my kids, and they'll tell you (possibly with rolled eyes) that I'm always pointing out pretty or interesting spaces of light. I'm constantly drawn to them.

But lately I've been more and more aware that sometimes the MOMENT is there even if the LIGHT isn't. {Looking at YOU, Christmas morning in my dark living room!!} So what's a natural-light photographer to do?

Well, she buys a Speedlight on a whim the day after Christmas and signs up for a class on using said Speedlight that happens to begin that same day! If you don't know, a Speedlight is a flash unit that attaches to your camera to provide extra light in a scene. 

{Sidenote #2--you may be wondering why you wouldn't just use the little pop-up flash that comes on the camera. The answer is both simple and complex, but the simple answer is that that kind of light, coming harshly straight at your subject is rarely ever flattering. A Speedlight rotates and swivels so that the photographer can BOUNCE the flash off of something else before it hits the subject. MUCH MUCH prettier light and way fewer harsh shadows.}

So I registered for this 4-week course on learning to using my new on-camera flash. And I thought I'd share some of my favorite practice images from the first week!

This new piece of equipment comes with a learning curve, especially when I've been so used to using the natural light around me for so long. But it's been super fun to try something new! And having an option to add more light in will come in super handy in a lot of scenarios!

I'll go into a few more "technical" things if you care about that sort of thing. And if you don't, you can just look at some cute photos of some cute kids!

So for these two photos of B reading, he was actually close enough to a window to receive some light on his face. Before this workshop, I would have cranked my ISO (I'd probably have to be around 5000 here), and that would have worked fine. I'm actually good with grain in my images. But what the flash allowed me to do was shoot this at ISO 200 instead and fill a few of the shadows. So the resulting images were noise-free!

little boy reading on the bed | Mobile AL lifestyle photographer Laurie Hatfield Photography
black and white image of little boy reading on bed | Mobile AL family photographer

For this next little set, I practiced while C was taking a bath. Now this particular bathroom has no windows, so there's no opportunity for pretty window light. (Not to mention that it was night-time anyway.) So I bounced my speedlight to almost mimic the look of having natural light coming from the side. 

{Again, you may wonder why not just use the overhead light in the bathroom? The answer's kind of the same. That high overhead light is unflattering. This is the same reason you want to avoid taking photos of people outdoors at high noon. Light coming from straight above is going to cause ugly shadows on your subject's face.}

Using the Speedlight allowed me to get the pretty, directional light that I love (and usually depend on windows for) without a single window in the room!

4-year-old boy in playing in the bathtub | Mobile AL family lifestyle photographer
4-year-old boy in bath | Saraland AL family photographer
little boy playing in bathtub | Fairhope AL family photographer
little boy in bath | Mobile AL lifestyle family photographer

Ok, last little set. This time I wanted to see if I could attempt some more portrait-type images with the Speedlight. Now normally I'd pull a kid to a window and use that light to get the direction I'm looking for. For these, I wasn't close to a window, so I needed to figure out how to make it LOOK like I was.

I bounced the flash off the wall to my left to again mimic the look of natural light coming from that direction. I also wanted to be sure to get catchlights in his eyes (see the reflection of the light in his eyes? Those are catchlights, and those ALWAYS make a portrait pop with life!)

portrait of 11-year-old boy | Mobile AL family photographer
split-light photo of 11-year-old boy | Fairhope AL lifestyle family photographer

So these were the images I was happy with in my very first week of shooting with a Speedlight. Don't get me wrong, there were wwwaaaayyy more that were total duds. {Did I mention the learning curve?}

So it's been challenging and exciting working towards adding a new trick to my photography options. I'm glad to have some portable light for the darker spots in our house especially! And to be able to bring my Speedlight along on in-home lifestyle client sessions

On that note, it's not too early to go ahead and get on my calendar for a family or newborn session in 2018! I'm looking forward to a great year helping families treasure their love & laughter through beautiful photos!