When I first began shooting black and white in grade 9 the camera club had no flash units – just 35mm Pentax cameras. So I got used to shooting using available light. Over the years as I bought camera equipment it was the camera and then lenses that my money went to. Eventually I was very generously given a flash for my camera as a goodbye gift from my work associates in Windsor.
But after much experimenting I just couldn’t use it the way I could easily take a picture with available light – I couldn’t visualize what the flash was going to do and what the image was going to look like, it was easier for me to observe the existing light. It took me a lot of trial and error to understand control of available light and I had become used to visualizing what it was going to do when I adjusted or moved my camera.
Years later I took a studio lighting course as part of the advanced photography program at Humber College. The required reading was an excellent book about light called Light Science and Magic which finally completed my mental picture of light and enabled me to visualize what would happen using a flash or studio lights.
But even now I rarely use lights or reflectors. I prefer to use what I see and visualize from there – I suppose I like the spontaneity.