Dog Days of Winter / by Graham Dew

Late February sees the dog days of winter; days of flat, dreary, cold greyness and last week was no exception. A time for getting on with work and chores; tidying up and preparing for brighter warmer times. Even as I type this post on the morning train the early March sunshine is up and it won’t be long before we get the first signs of spring.

Very Early Rhubarb, 2013 © Graham Dew
Very Early Rhubarb, 2013
We headed over to our allotment this weekend to continue with preparations for our first season growing our own produce. As ever I took the camera along, and as the light was so flat, I took my new flashgun and lighting kit along. The new flash is a Metz 52 AF-1, and it is a very impressive bit of kit, with lots of power and many useful features. But the most useful feature and the reason that I bought it, is that it has a facility called high speed synchronisation. This means that I can use fill-in flash even at high shutter speeds above the normal 1/125 or 1/250 second X-sync limit imposed by most cameras and flashes. So now I can use a small amount of flash to energise an image even when using large apertures and hence high shutter speeds. The new flash extends my range of options, giving me more creative control over my pictures, rather than forcing me to use small apertures and undesired large depth of field.

Shed Foliage, 2013 © Graham Dew
Shed Foliage, 2013
Both the shots of the rhubarb and the leaf where taken this way, using the flash off-camera with a small softbox and a half strength orange gel to give suitable modelling and warmth to the light. I’ve been using fill-in flash for quite a long time now, and admire the work of people like Roy Mehta and Andy Hughes who are masters of this technique. If painters can choose what colours they want to use in their paintings, then I see no problem in employing a judicious splash of light to add colour and life to my photos.