The winners of the best press photos of last year were announced today. Overall winner was Paul Hansen with a picture of a funeral in Gaza: two kids, killed in a rocket attack, are carried by men whose faces express terrible grief–and anger. Together with the almost haunting light, the atmosphere of the picture is very intense.
The light effect sets this picture apart for me. Of course, being a press photo, there is no elaborate studio lighting to create such an effect. If I see it right, the photographer made smart use of light falling through a (broken, or newly-built?) window on the left, while the grey concrete wall on the right helped light up the dark side, acting as a reflection screen. To see that light, while walking backwards, almost with your nose and your wide-angle lens in the faces of crying, angry men and–even worse–dead children!
Of course, the rest of the winners in the different categories are also worth looking at. You can see them here (captions in Dutch–sorry, folks!):
Winnaars World Press Photo 2013 :: nrc.nl.
But this overall winner will stay in my mind for a long time, I fear.
Here’s a link to a post that explains how High-Dynamic Range situations can be photographed with HDR technique, without the picture looking like the typical HDR-ed fake postcard effect. And avoiding unwanted reflections from fill-in flash at the same time. To me these tips showed HDR as it was meant to be used: as a technique to get natural-looking pictures in difficult situations.
Just a quick addition: when shooting portraits, probably you want some reflection of the flash (highlights in the eyes and in hair!), so don’t forget about fill-in flash in those circumstances.