I’ve always been an available light photographer. Just use what’s available. Sometimes that’s window lighting, overhead office lighting, stage lighting, or open shade in a doorway with a reflector. Travel light, keep it simple and use what’s available.
I learned to light using hot lights, Mole-Richardson to be exact. They were available, powerful, heavy and HOT! An asbestos oven mitt was a good lighting kit item back then.
Despite the risk of heatstroke for human subjects and food shots that broiled before your very eyes if you weren’t careful, there was no substitute for being able to see how the light worked it’s way across the surface of your subject. Over the years I’ve used studio flash too and learned to appreciate the control and consistency of output. Flash can freeze motion as well as provides light at a color temperature close to that of daylight.
Lately photo equipment manufacturers have developed some pretty terrific shoe-mount flashes that double as off-camera studio lighting and cost just about as much as a single studio or location monolight.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. At the recent PhotoShop World 2010 in Las Vegas, lighting equipment manufacturers such as Westcott were again offering continuous lighting from cooler, color-balanced CFLs, allowing the use of softbox-type modifiers without heat dissipation issues. With the new digital cameras, an ExpoDisc helps determine exposure, as well as dial-in color balance.
Camera and photographic industry marketers will always be driving the latest equipment trends. What’s next, LEDS? Litepanels is making them already for video and still photography. They run longer on smaller batteries than conventional lights and stay cool to the touch.
Maybe if photographers going forward learn to light using continuous lights, instead of flash, they’ll learn to see the light and maybe become less dependent on fixing everything in post with PhotoShop?