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Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

Is flash important for street photography at night?

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That is not a question I'm asking you. That was a question someone asked on another forum. I give you my answer, with illustrative photos at the link.



I do a tremendous amount of night / low light street photography. When it comes to night / low light street photography you only have a few choices to choose from.

Available Light Film / High ISO....Available Light Digital / High ISO....White Light Flash....Infrared Flash....Electric Lighting....Tripod Shots. 

My first choice for night street photography is to use available light. Next is a mix of available light with fill white flash. Sometimes there is not enough available light, so it is mostly flash. If I need to stay low key it is IR flash aka ‘blackout’ flash. With regards to tripods…I seldom, if have ever use one.  As a documentary / street photographer, I take pride in my technique to be able to get the shot handheld and on the fly. At the link I also show some examples of 'push processing' film and digital. With digital, push processing is a dream compared to the old film days. Every image can be handled separately as compared to treating an entire roll of film.

Over the years I have replaced much of my white light flash work with infrared flash. The drawback with infrared flash is it is black and white and you can't do motion blur well. All the light comes from the IR flash in the dark and infrared does not pick up much of the available light. This is getting more true as the world switches to LED lighting. In the old days you could get some motion blur with a slow shutter speed shooting infrared flash if you had incandescent lights in the background.

But whatever method I choose, I can work seamlessly between all styles. That is the key...working natural. With candid street work there is no time to learn on the job. Especially in our world we live in nowadays with all these agitated people. But that is a different post...Self Defense for the Street Photographer. (Google if interested.)







Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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I've tried using a flash with my Alexa and it hasn't turned out all too well 🙂

Well, for movies, I guess one would use a little on camera LED lamp if one were shooting documentary footage and really needed to see something beyond what is available lighting wise.  And the least amount of non available light would be best.


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