“No flash spot”

Maybe you have heard about “No flash corner” before ? If not you should check out in 2point8 and find out the article that Michael David Murphy wrote about that. In a few words it is about having one or more indirect light that somehow emulate the condition of a studio in a street situation.

Downtown Boston there are such conditions, depending on the season and the hour of the day. In the summer, at the intersection of Washington Street and Broomfield Street there is a large area of reflected light coming from the buildings which are around Scollay square/State street. But at this moment of the year (January) the light comes from the building which is right the other side of the corner,  and it is a very little spot.

This it is not a dramatic spot, and it produces a rather harsh light, but playing with it is kind of fun – especially since I was not inspired at all by my shooting lately, and actually shot very few. The spot is challenging because it is very narrow (about 1 or 2 feet width). When people are walking through they are lit a fraction of a second, and you have to click the right moment. Also not all the sidewalk works well. So I spotted a specific place on the ground where it was good, prefocused and waited for someone to walk on it.

Below is the first pic I took. The “no flash” spot is very obvious, and you can see the shadow cast from the “real” sun on the pavement, which shows that sun light is actually coming from behind the subject.

Fig. 1 - Note the shadow cast on bottom right


I think this specific situation is easier and more relevant with a standard lens (35 to 50) or a short telephoto (85). One of the problem if you use a very wide angle and come too close is that you might block the indirect light coming from the building. The picture below (fig. 2) is shot rather close and you can see my shadow on the subject.

fig 2. ... closer


Finally these pictures are kind of fun to do, but not that interesting, except for the light condition. Actually the odds are very low that something special happens whilst your subject goes through that little spot. The shot below is not that bad for that matter, a little more of body language.




The other corner of the street has an interesting light condition too. Here you get the people in foreground with direct light coming from the sun. But most the background is in the shadow. Anyhow there is a reflecting light from the buildings of the opposite side, as well as the direct light filtering through the windows behind, and all that brings a smooth and subtle light in that background and it is a great situation for shooting.

The man in coat is lit by the sun, the background by reflective light.


Another shot, done at the same place few weeks ago. Note how the difference in light makes the lady on the very right look like a shadow.



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