Thursday, March 24, 2016

An Abuse of Power

Over the past few weeks I have suffered from an abuse of power by the moderator of a site which has ended in me being banned …. Forever 
This current dispute is because I challenged the wide spread condemnation of the ‘on-board’ camera flash as useless. Camera makers have been including this feature in most cameras since digital began so I cannot but think somebody is not wrong here 
But because I questioned the statement and said it was a load of rubbish I have been banned without any tolerance to explain why I think the onboard is useful. I regularly use my on-board when there is insufficient light on my subjects.
The on-board is usually condemned on the grounds that it is too weak to be of any use and its position close to the taking lens is dis-approved of. Because of the recent fashion to bounce light off celings and walls much of the output is ‘wasted’ by not being directed at the subject being photographed, hence the need for more power than the average on-board has. Then there is the problem with shooting colour that a flash close to the camera results in ‘red-eye’ so these days it is better if subjects are looking at the camera to have the flash some distance from the camera or else use the camera’s ‘red-eye’ avoidance feature which with a series of weak flashes gets the pupil to close.
But if you are taking ‘candids’ it is reasonable to shoot when people are not looking directly at the camera.
Years ago I earnt my living shooting candids and in those days flash guns were quite weak compared today and I regularly worked with a Guide Number of 56. The GN is divided by the distance in feet from the flash to the subject and the answer is the aperture to use.
So for single people or pairs taken from five feet this resulted in my using f/11 while a standing couple with camera held vertically was 10ft and f/5.6 … this was with film rated at 100 ISO. Occasionally one would take a group of people standing at 15ft and one used f/4.
That was with a 50mm lens which with an APS-C camera equals about a 35mm lens today, or 25mm if shooting Micro Four Thirds.
Today I must admit being completely confused by the variable involved in using a zoom lens with zoom-able flash and the automatic coupling flash the camera so I leave it to the camera to sort it out and find they do this very well. I am too old to bother about learning the new ways when I have an intelligent camera to work it out for me.
The thread I was contributing to was a newbie to digital asking for help though based on some unspecified experience with film. So had I been not cut off at the gate I would have suggested he use the on-board in preference to getting a modern flash and the inevitable fumbling that working with new gear often results in.
I am reminded of my boss those many years ago taking me to the pub to celebrate my birthday and having got me to drink a couple of whiskies with him gave me an assignment.
I did not normally drink anything so was quite plonked …. so setting my camera to f/8 I took everything at about 7ft rather than try to change things for each shot. It was a business reception with everybody drinking so my state didn’t matter and of course the photos came out good as gold 
There is a lot to be said for the KISS principle for situations were one is not sure of oneself.

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