Fill Flash and Film

Analog street photography is more than strictly fast primes and natural light. My candid portrait of Harrell of Sebastopol is a good example of leveraging fill flash to get the shot.

"Harrell of Sebastopol" - Pentax ZX-5 with Pentax-F 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom, Fujicolor 200. Used the popup fill flash to balance Harrell with the background. Photo by Derrick Story.

I was shooting in downtown Sebastopol, CA on a bright day. The weather was lovely, but tough for photography. Harrell was standing outside the post office handing out literature. I wanted his portrait, but I also liked the surrounding environment. So I popped up the built-in flash on the Pentax ZX-5, made sure I was within its range for Harrell, and fired off three images.

Since I also photograph my subjects with an iPhone when shooting film (to capture the metadata and for my journal entry), I have a non-flash shot for comparison. Neither of theses images have been edited.

iPhone 6S image without flash.

The iPhone shot shows how difficult backlighting can be during midday shooting. Not only is Harrell's face in shadow, but the colors are dull too.

As much as I like some of the older SLRs, such as my Pentax Program Plus, I often reach for a newer model, such as the ZX-5 for outdoor work during the bright parts of the day. That little bit of fill flash makes a big difference.

-Derrick

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