Sunday, August 8, 2010

Boy's Birthdays

Ted springs on me that he's going to a birthday party on Sunday.  Not "Hey mom, I got invited to a party.  Can I go?"  but rather "I'm going to a party on Sunday afternoon."  He cleared with his dad and arranged his own ride, so it's not like I'm upset, but as The Mom, I spiral into what-to-buy-yet-another-12-year-old-who-has-everything mode.  I ask Ted for input, and he says "I don't know...they have about a gift card to WalMart?"  Um. How about not.  I don't mean to sound snotty, but working in a small shop whose biggest competor is (sadly) WalMart and knowing that WalMart's stated business objective is to undercut the local I said....Um. No.

Now, because Target has had the good sense to keep their animosity of local small businesses to themselves, I'm all for a Target gift card.  So off I go to pick one up.  But of course, I enter the store...and get SUCKED into the dollar spot.  And worse, into the $2.50 spot. :P  Black handled bucket?  For $2.50?  I'll take it!!  I'll fill it with Twinkies!  I'll put a skull sticker on it!  I'll be the most hated mother on Bama (this kid plays on Ted's football team)!  Ok. Pause.  Rethink.  But I'm still taking the bucket! 

Aside: what is it about scrapbookers that make us so stubborn about just putting a gift card in a greeting card and handing it over?  I feel like everytime I give a gift card I'm challenged to engineer some presentation device...

Today is no different.

In an attempt to not bring on the hate from Tyler's mother, the bucket is filled with Rice Krispie Treats (c'mon! At least they're better than Twinkies!), Trident Gum, Target fruit snacks and a bag of Goldfish snacks.  When I got home I asked Ted if he was okay with my doing the monster and even let him pick which monster.  And I asked him "Are you sure this is ok?" about 6 times, and he enthusiastically said "I'd love to get this!  I'd take it downstairs and play video games with it all day." Um. Yeah.  Feeling the hate. (In my defense, at least it doesn't make noise or come apart to 200 tiny pieces that hurt when stepped on)

And then there's the gift card holder.  Cute, no?  I love the skinny monster, and I'm glad I finally had an excuse to use the talk bubble....kinda cute.  The googly eyes? Yeah. I dig 'em.

And I want to take a minute to talk about flash.

Poor, maligned flash.  Everyone hates him.  Especially everyone in the scrapbook world.  Heavy hitters like Karen Russell, Erin Terrell Clarkson, Maggie Holmes, Erin Cobb, Tara Whitney...etc, etc, etc...  they ALL say FLASH IS BAD.  Most even go so far as to say they don't even own a flash.  Seriously? 

And I am NOT saying that I am a better photographer or know more than the aforementioned heavy hitters.  They're ALL amazing shooters, and I wish I had half the talent any one of them has. 

But I just want to stick up for the poor, maligned flash.  He's not all bad.  He's just misunderstood.  You can't just use the one on your camera and expect it to do a good job.   Because aside from using it outside on a sunny day to fill in shadows, the on-camera flash just can't do a great job.  Why is it even there then?  Well, near as I can tell, it ads enough light to boost shutter speeds in order to avoid blurry shots.  Hopefully we can all agree that blurry shots are decidedly worse than shots with flash.   And really, if you're shooting with a point and shoot camera, your only option is flash on or flash off.  (Mostly...there are a couple of excpetions, but I'm not going there right now)

But if you're using an SLR you have another option.  A dedicated flash that slides into your hot shoe solves a myriad of problems: No red eye.  No harsh shadows.  No blurry pictures.  No whacked out color shifts.  The joy of the dedicated flash is that 9 times out of 10, the flash head can be aimed at the ceiling, and in so doing, the light bounces off the large white plane of the ceiling where it gets diffused, and rains back down on the subject.  It wraps around the subject - so the harsh shadows are eliminated.  The light is softer, which is really pleasing.  You can still set your camera to a very low f-stop so if you want a shallow depth of feild, you don't have give that up.   And it's not like you have be some tech-no whiz.  You put it on, aim it at the ceiling and fire.  The camera pretty much takes care of the rest.  Yeah, if you turn the camera sideways to get a portrait shot, you do have to have a flash that both swivels and bounces, but most flashes do that anyway.  (Let's say 7 out of 10 flashes can both swivel and bounce) As an added point, bouncing the flash keeps you from having that harsh shadow that just plain yucky, but it also prevents the flash glare that happens on shiney, reflective surfaces.  For instance, shooting the metal bucket with the flash aimed right at it would have  giant white spot, totally devoid of detail.  Not. Good.  Bring on the bounce.

At any rate, the shots above were taken at 10 o'clock at night.  No way could I have taken those without flash.  Even if I had boosted my ISO to 3200 and turned on the room lights, it still would have been iffy.  And I'd have to have made a custom white balance reading - there's no way that the three light sources in my kitchen would have come across cleanly in any of the pre-set white balance settings.  The joy of flash is that the camera knows EXACTLY what the flash is doing, and knows exactly how to deal with the white balance when you're using it (unless, you, the user, set the white balance to something funky - but under Auto or Flash, the light will be pure and whites will be white).   

Blah blah blah.  Too much lecturing.  Maybe I should do some before and after/good and bad shots to really illustrate why flash is so damn functional.  Next time the heavy hitter's voices ring in your head that FLASH IS BAD, say gently back NO. HE'S JUST MISUNDERSTOOD.

And that's what I'm working on.  I may finish sometime this month...
(also taken with flash.  :)  Just sayin...)

1 comment:

  1. Nice post about scrapbooking, err, I mean photography.

    Seriously, you bring up some great points about flash photography and do a great job of explaining them and to top it off, you have some great shots to demonstrate with.

    Nice job!