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Look, Ma! No Flash! An Available Light Photowalk.

LATE CANCELLATION POLICY IN EFFECT. If you cancel after 8 am on Sunday, August 26, 2012, you may be considered a no-show.

(Members Only, Please)

Let’s spend some time shooting in available light with no flash at the Air and Space Museum. While we’re there, we can also view AirCraft: the Jet as Art, an exhibit featuring the work of photographer and graphic designer Jeffrey Milstein. Milstein has created a series of images of jet aircraft moments before landing, capturing each plane’s unique undercarriage and markings.

Outside of the studio, flash photography leaves a lot to be desired. While built-in, on-camera flashes are the worst, even a professional-grade external flash in the hands of an experienced photographer can lead to red-eye, blown-out highlights, harsh lighting, and the need for a lot of post-production work. The use of a flash also can be highly disruptive and annoying to subjects, and makes it nearly impossible to be the proverbial fly on the wall.

Fortunately, the advent of high-speed digital sensors, constantly improving post-production software, and even vibration-reduction lenses have made going flash-less much easier. During this Meetup event, we’ll experience the joys, frustrations, and challenges of shooting only with available light.

Members Only

This is open only to members of the Washington Photography Meetup Group. If you would like to bring a guest, please have your guest join the group (it’s free!) and then RSVP on his/her own. If you indicate in your comments that you are bringing a guest, your RSVP may be switched to “Not Going.”

No “Maybes”

Since this event has a limited number of spots, please sign up only if and when you are certain you can attend. I may remove anyone who has been a no-show at previous events, and I will mark anyone who signs up and doesn’t show up as a no-show.

What You’ll Need

A DSLR, mirror-less system camera, advanced compact digital camera, or any camera with a maximum ISO of 800 or higher and the ability to shoot in TV, AV, or manual metering mode with the flash turned off. Film cameras are also welcome, but be sure to load fast film that you might want to push process after the shoot.

What It Would Be Useful to Have

The following hardware and software are not necessary, but make shooting in available light easier:

A camera with exposure compensation and the ability to shoot raw files

A fast lens (maximum aperture of f/2.8, f/2.0, f/1.4 or larger)

Lightroom, Photoshop, or similar post-production software

What Not to Bring

The following items that many of us routinely carry in our camera bags are not permitted in the museum, so please leave them at home:


Pen Knives

Aerosol Cans (this usually includes compressed air products such as Dust Off)



For more information, see the full list of what is and isn't permitted on the Museum's security page.

We’ll meet at the museum and, for those who would like to, review some valuable available-light techniques such as digital push-processing, hand-held camera bracing, and the use of your camera or lens’ maximum (or fastest) aperture. Then we’ll explore the exhibits, flash-disabled cameras in hand, and reconvene to see the AirCraft exhibit. If there is interest, we’ll plan a follow-up event to review the best of what we shot.

Since this event has a limited number of spots, please sign up only if and when you are certain you can attend. I may remove anyone who has been a no-show at previous events, and I will mark anyone who signs up and doesn’t show up as a no-show.

Good Advice on Shooting in Available Light

In "Shooting with Available Light," Photojournalist Jim Richardson offers some great real-world tips for getting good images in lousy light.

Join or login to comment.

  • adam r.

    Washington Post Travel Section has their photo contest 2012 results. Still enjoying my Sunday. Love being a photographer.

    August 26, 2012

  • Rayne W.

    Thanks Ed for organizing the meetup. Enjoyed meeting some fellow photogs.

    August 26, 2012

  • adam r.

    Had a wonderful time. Talking and shooting with other photographers always inspires me to stop being lazy. Thanks to Ed and everyone that came out.

    August 26, 2012

  • Shawn

    Really really fun and very very informative. The people were great and it got me thinking again about different aspects of getting a 'perfect' shot.

    August 26, 2012

  • Ed R.

    Carla, please call or text me on the numbers I sent out earlier.

    August 26, 2012

  • adam r.

    We will meet at the info center at one.

    August 26, 2012

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