The natural light thing

I've heard a lot of discussion on the natural light vs. studio lights/strobes debate lately, and I realized, I have an opinion and a blog.

I used to be all about natural light only, you know why? I was afraid of using a flash.  It added a whole level of difficulty and a science that I didn't fully understand.  (I meant to added this to my list of mistakes but forgot

Now, I almost can't stand to rely only on natural light, because quite frankly, it's super unreliable.  There was one day, when I was shooting engagement photos on a beautiful, overcast day.  The light was perfect for about 40 minutes, then out of nowhere, it got super dark and started storming.  Now, I know that even in a storm you're not going to pull your strobes out to compensate, but I was just using that as an example to show how you can't trust the weather.  

Some people may only use "natural light" because they love that soft look.  That look is possible to achieve with studio lights, but with lights, you're not limited to the light that the sky is providing you.  

I just got sick of being at the mercy of the elements.  My love of lights is a more recent one, because I just kept hitting walls in my portrait work.  Yes, lights add an extra challenge, but to me, that's part of the fun.  For example, check out this photo to the right: 

Totally artificial. (You probably could guess that) It was the middle of the day under my porch.  I used a smoke machine and one flash to show off the smoke through the steps.  I couldn't have gotten this smoke effect without a flash, because there wasn't enough directional light coming from the sky.  

But here's the other problem: lights are expensive.  Well, yes and no.  I use super cheap, crappy lights just to get by.  They do the job quite well and are super portable.  You can get out there and by a light kit with soft boxes and a few gels and strobes for $130.  

Try shooting with just one single light first, just to get the feel.  Once you're comfortable with that, start using a second.  Then once you begin to feel limited with 2 lights, go crazy and start engineering insane setups.  

By the way, I'm not saying natural light is bad.  I still use it from time to time when I just can't get the lighting setup I want.  I have realized that once I started getting better with lights, I started getting better at using whatever light the sky was offering me.  Just try it out, it'll be a pain, but well worth it.

Yashica Mat: the camera I can't stop using

Sometimes I have the ability to develop my own stuff, but a lot of the time, I have to send it off.  A couple days ago, I sent a couple rolls of Ilford black and white film to (highly recommend btw, pretty cheap with great results), and got them back today.  You don't know how excited I am that these turned out at all.  

I was thinking about getting a light meter to use with it, but after seeing how these turned out, I'm just gonna stick with my Light Meter iPhone app.  Not the prettiest app, but it apparently does the job sufficiently.

Weaverville Bakery

Weaverville Bakery



Living Room

Living Room





More to come!

Throwback Thursday

With it being my 4th (technically 3rd and a half) 365 project, you can probably guess that I have taken quite a few photos over the years.  I have about six hardrives on my desk right now holding them all because my 500 GB laptop hardrive isn't enough.  I have photos no one has ever seen, that I have forgotten about, because I've taken so many photos that some get lost in the clutter.  

Today, I posted my first Throwback Thursday photo within my 365 project, IV, a portrait series.  Thursdays shall now be dedicated to past portrait work I've done, which coincidentally helps me spread out all these portraits I've been working on.  Having 365 days of people is quite a challenge, so I need any break I can get.

Day 8/365 is a photo I took of my sister at my grandparents backyard fishpond in 2012.  She's a makeup artist, so she put that cool design on her face.  She also probably forgot about this photo, so I was happy to surprise her by throwing an old photo of herself in her social network feeds. 

Titled "The Evil Pond Spirit" a follow up to my Pond Spirit photo essay a few years back

Titled "The Evil Pond Spirit" a follow up to my Pond Spirit photo essay a few years back

Holiday polaroids

I've gotten pretty into using my Polaroid Spectra despite the film being pretty pricey.  It's something nice to have over Christmas, because you're able to take snapshots of your family or weird stuff along the way and have a print to hold at the end.

My wife Anna got really into knitting over Christmas, and has almost finished her first scarf.  She's done a really great job, and I can't wait to share some photos of her final product.

This was supposed to be a double exposure portrait for my latest 365 project, but didn't really work out.  It's still kinda cool, with it being an explosion of red flowers.  You would never know a person was in the photo though.

I felt like it rained almost the entire time we were out of town. We had a few nice sunny days, but most of it was gloomy, rainy, and oddly warm.

Anna's crazy dog, Lily

Here's a classic photo of my grandfather holding his Yorkie named Murphy.  She'll only sleep like that on him.

Right before the photo was taken I told everyone to make sure they didn't blink since I only had one shot left.  Sure enough, I was the only one to blink.  I guess that's how it works. 

Beards that need decorating

I would like to try and keep my website up to date with my 365 this time around, so I'll try to remember to post as I go.  Here are the first two portraits so far:

The first one is your basic double exposure selfie, but the second one has a little bit more of a story.  

A couple weeks ago I went to the local art museum where The New York Times had an exhibit.  In the exhibit, a photo of Bill Murray with flowers in his beard.  Of course, this is the perfect photo of Bill Murray, summarizing his personality in one single shot.  


My brother-in-law has a pretty nice beard himself, so I had to put some stuff in it.  It's winter so it's hard to find flowers anywhere, so being festive, we grabbed some ornaments.  









So that's it. Maybe I'll include some more stories about some more notable photographs in my project.  I'm still trying to feel all this out.

Again, follow @thewillmalone365 on Instagram and like The Will Malone 365 facebook page to check out what's going on with this whole thing.