Too Dark, Use Flash. Part 1 of 2

Writer and photography / Peter J. Blackburn

What to do when darkness has fallen.

“Too dark, use flash.” Now there’s a photographic phrase which has become a favorite of mine over the years for regular everyday use. Whenever a cloudy comment is directed to me, especially by my 14-year- old daughter, after which I am left in a state of bewilderment, my typical response is, “Too dark, use flash.” I suppose the phrase is a carry-over from clever cameras such as the Minolta Talker which audibly uttered those words when it came to the conclusion the subject at which it was aimed was too dark to render a satisfactory image onto the enclosed film. In other words, the camera lacked information reflecting from the intended subject to make an adequate exposure. The camera needed more enlightenment, if you will.

As I review the huge assortment of writing and images here on, the enlightenment I receive is overwhelming. This vast repository of valuable articles and information, some of which has helped me in my own gum and casein dichromate work, has increased my own understanding. My work, as a result, has been enriched. Still, there are times after reading an essay when I am simply left with questions. Lots of questions. I don’t understand. What does the writer mean and why? “Too dark, use flash.”

For example, why would anyone in their right mind… Ooops. Perhaps it is best to not mention any specific examples in such a public forum. After all, I most likely would have the more aristocratic members of this community reading me the riot act for even uttering a doubt. Eyes would roll, catcalls would ensue, grimaces would adorn every face. Quit laughing, you all know what I’m talking about.

Oh phooey. Isn’t enlightenment and information a driving force behind I say, “Bring it.” Bring the debate, the doubts, the dubiety. We are among friends and, I assume, we are in our right minds. In the spirit of enlightenment and good will, let’s all get out our flashes and gently expel the darkness where we can.

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