I spend a lot of time working with strobes. As a commercial advertising photographer I find myself in many situations requiring some pretty complex lighting solutions. Don’t get me wrong, strobes are super groovy and lighting challenges are always relished but there is something really magical about shedding the hardware.


Every once in a while I enjoy shooting with just a light meter, camera, a card and available light. No computers, strobes, cords, flags, stands or radio syncs. I was recently contacted by Jennifer Ludington, owner of A2O Fitness, who was just asked to be a contributor to a major grocery chains blog as nutrition/fitness expert.

We decided to shoot her portraits at her place. Having been in A2O Fitness many times I thought this could be a perfect for available light photography. A couple small roll up doors, a beige building across the street bathed in glorious sunlight and a wall of mirrors.


For the shoot, I set my ISO at 1000 and shot the images at between f 2.8 – 4.5. I wanted the viewer to know it was a gym but wanted to convert the visual chaos of gym equipment into interesting shapes. The sweet grain at 1000 ISO was perfect for what we wanted. So we simply wandered around the gym and l placed her in various lighting schemes. In the old days, when we shot film or when digital cameras required we shoot closer to ISO 100-400 in order to get a decent noise level, we would bring in all kinds of lighting equipemnt to achieve aesthetic we wanted.


Now shooting at 1000 ISO or even higher provides us with endless options and possibilities. Shoots that would normally take us half a day can be completed in under an hour, with more natural results. With instant feedback from your camera’s viewer you can literally mimic some pretty sophisticated studio lighting with the available light. It only requires that you realy look around and see whats there. Then, take advantage of it.

All the images in this post were shot for Jennifer Ludington’s Fitness Spokesman campaign inside her facility with just a Canon 5D Mark II and a 70-200. All available light. So if you feel the need to shed the hardware as well, give it a try. Try shooting a self assignment indoors with just your camera and a subject. I think you will be amazed at what beautiful light is actually bouncing around those rooms.