I went back to Gettysburg National Military Park during the Thanksgiving weekend with my husband. We both enjoy photography, so we spent some time at the battlefield taking pictures. Unfortunately, that Thursday it was bitterly cold and after only about 20 minutes my hands were so stiff that I could hardly hold the camera. It was also approaching 4 o’clock, and getting overcast.
The late afternoon light wasn’t adequate for available-light photography, so I decided to try some flash photography and take some interior shots of the Pennsylvania Memorial. Even in the unheated interior of the building it was a little warmer than outside, and it was out of the wind. I spent some time experimenting with flash fill and adjusting the intensity of my flash. I don’t work with flash very often, so this was a learning opportunity for me.
My objective was to have a strong enough flash to light the subject adequately and give some highlights to the highly textured wall detail without washing out the whole scene. I also wanted to achieve the kind of visual texture that so much good black-and-white photography has, and the stairwell was a good subject for texture. I used a bracketing technique and took several shots of the same scene. I first selected an aperture, then adjusted my flash intensity and took several shots at different speeds. I selected a second aperture setting and did the same thing.
It’s easy to do bracketing with digital photography because there’s no wasted film. In a sense, I think that digital photography can make a photographer lazy because it’s easy to just keep taking shots until you have one that you like. But on the other hand, it allows photographers to play without worrying about wasted resources, and so I find that I am more likely to experiment with aperture and speed settings.