When you have to figure out
a way to make it work.
Our group of six just returned after five intensive days in Haiti. While it’s good to be back, part of me wishes I could stay to do more. Resources are few and needs are many.
On our last night Melissa, one of the volunteers, asked me if I could shoot a portrait of her and Owens, a local boy who she has known and gotten close to over the years of her serving there. Honestly I didn’t know if I should do the portrait for one reason: there was no light! It was dark already and the few electric lights available were barely enough to just get around in the dark. Using a flash on camera would have given terrible results in this situation. Wanting to to help Melissa I had one option; to use the small battery LED lantern I had purchased at Walmart for $8 the previous week. As I got thinking; for its size, it did put out a considerable amount of light and it was color balanced to daylight. It was surely worth a try.
With Nicky as my assistant holding the light as close as possible, I just came in nice and tight. The photo above shows Nicky covering the lantern from one side with her hand as to direct the light more onto the subjects and also not allowing stray light to come into my camera lens. If you have a small light source such as this lantern, the closer you can bring it to the subject the softer it will be. The farther away from the subject the more contrast you’ll get. The main photo shows a cropped version with a bit of retouching and lightening of the background in Photoshop.
Having photographed weddings years ago has taught me that there’s always a way to get out of a jam. Anything and everything can and does go wrong on a wedding.
Two years ago on an outdoor session we ran out of light before the last subject was photographed. I pulled my car up and used the headlights diffused through a small scrim I had with me. It took a little color balancing in post production but it worked! These lighting emergencies can be a lesson in our lives for whatever situation we happen to find ourselves. There’s always a solution if we can think creatively.