A common refrain in my photography classes is that photography is about solving problems. And even though this can cover an almost endless list of possibilities, let’s face it—it usually has something to do with our light. Is it falling where we want it? Is it too bright? Too dark? Is it bending to our will or acting like a pissed-off toddler? We are artists, but sometimes creating that art requires a PhD in logistics and problem-solving.
This is the hurdle I was facing this past weekend when angles, time-of-day, and only one chance to get it right for the client all conspired against me in the form of overpowering lens flare. Now, I know what some of you are saying-- “Lens flare? Bring it on!” I might agree with you, but this shoot did not include a vintage couch mysteriously appearing in a wheat field, and there was definitely no solitary walk along abandoned railroad tracks.
Flare was killing my shot. Change shooting directions? Not an option. Pick a different angle? Didn’t work. Pack it in and reschedule? Not if I wanted to keep the client. I was shooting without an assistant, so I didn’t have anyone to hold a board or otherwise block the spill. I couldn’t do it myself because I was shooting without a tripod and had no place to clip a Nasty Clamp. None of the usual tricks/solutions were working, so how was I going to solve the problem?
This was when I discovered a new use for one of my favorite flash modifiers. The Rogue Flashbender from ExpoImaging comes in a variety of sizes, but the small version—traditionally used as a speedlight bounce card—also attaches perfectly around the lens barrel with a velcro strap. I was then able to bend and position the panel in such a way as to block the lens flare and still keep the Flashbender out of the shot. You could rig up a DIY version with cardboard and rubber bands, but I'm a sucker for gear that can pull double duty.
Obviously, “The Shot” is the ultimate goal. It’s why they hire us. It’s why we do what we do and it’s what keeps us coming back for more. But I also find a certain measure of success any time I come up with a new solution to an old problem. Ask ten different photographers for a solution to a single problem and you're likely to get at least six or seven different answers. The prize, though, lies in working through it and finding a solution that works for you.