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View Full Version : Weegee fact or? 1/200 with flashbulbs?

Randy Moe
24-Jan-2017, 15:38
While writing a note, I researched Weegee today.

From Wikipedia,

"Photographic technique
Most of his notable photographs were taken with very basic press photographer equipment and methods of the era, a 4x5 Speed Graphic camera preset at f/16 at 1/200 of a second, with flashbulbs and a set focus distance of ten feet.[7] He was a self-taught photographer with no formal photographic training.[citation needed] Weegee developed his photographs in a homemade darkroom in the rear of his car."

I am wondering if 1/200 a second shutter speed is too fast for flashbulbs? Is wikipedia wrong?

I think I have seen Weegee photos with 2 and 3 flashbulb handles. Maybe his 'blast' of light did it.

I always set for way way slower like, 1/30th. One bulb.

Any ideas?

Complete Weegee Wiki here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weegee

Fr. Mark
24-Jan-2017, 15:47
Aren't these leaf shutter cameras that synchnat any speed?

jp
24-Jan-2017, 15:51
No, different syncs fire the flash before the shutter open, so the flash impulse has time to peak when the shutter goes open if using a leaf shutter.

With a focal plane shutter, the flash has to glow the whole time the curtain is moving across the film and shutter speed is derived in part from the slit width.

24-Jan-2017, 15:58
Synchronization delay is a separate issue. What is the "burn time" for the bulbs typically used, and how long does the shutter need to stay open in order not to lose too much of the illumination? 1/200 sounds too fast to me too, but I don't have much intuition for the duration of bulb flash other than to think that it must be substantially longer than that of electronic flashes in common use.

Randy Moe
24-Jan-2017, 16:09
I think flashbulbs are rated as 15 to 30/1000 burn time. My strobes are up to 1/10,000 second.

The FP (focal plane) bulbs burn longest to keep light on the moving slit. Leaf shutters move differently.

This question may depend on which shutter Weegee was using.

Jim Noel
24-Jan-2017, 16:13
A properly synced gun will fire the bulb so it is at it's peak when the shutter is wide open. The reason for the 1/200 shutter speed is to eliminate as much ambien light as possible enabling the negative to be properly exposed by the flash bulb. When I used bulbs I rarely used a shutter speed slower than 1/200. Some shutters synced accurately at 1/400, and one made by Kodak at 1/800th.

Mark Sawyer
24-Jan-2017, 17:23
This question may depend on which shutter Weegee was using.

Synched to the leaf shutter...

Two23
24-Jan-2017, 17:39
I shoot at night with flash a lot, and have tried bulbs as well. There are different speed bulbs--the smaller ones like you'd use for journalism can be pretty fast. I also do not doubt the exposure setting of f16. O. Winston Link routinely shot bulbs (really big ones) at ISO 100 and f11-16, according to what David Plowden once told me.

Kent in SD

Randy Moe
24-Jan-2017, 18:14
Synched to the leaf shutter...

OK, I will try that. Flashbulb, f16, 1/200 and be there. I have a Ham Transceiver that picks up local Police. I hear the news too soon. Like 3 days before it's reported...

Love that wire 'Sports Finder' they work well.

Do you have any idea how fast his film was?

Thanks

Mark Sampson
24-Jan-2017, 19:38
Randy, I believe that the fastest b/w film at the time of WW2 was Super-XX @ ASA 200. I believe ASA 40 was 'fast' in 1930. Photojournalists would regularly use paper developer (e.g. Dektol) with film to gain speed and contrast. But figuring these things out accurately would take some research... different films used different speed ratings, ASA, Weston, Schooner, DIN, etc. And I recall reading that the American Standards Association changed their measurement methods in the '50s, making Tri-X ASA 400 instead of 200... There were other films meant for PJ work with flash, as well; Kodak made Super Panchro-Press Type B, Royal Pan, and maybe more. The big bulbs they used, too, would have made slower films practical; I've seen household-base flashbulbs that put out as much light as a 1000w/s flash. I'm rambling here, this is all before my time, but maybe an old handbook like "Graphic Graflex Photography" or a vintage Kodak Photoguide would be more help.

LabRat
24-Jan-2017, 19:42
You can sometimes find old Graphics with 10-16-100 carved into the top or back somewhere, that means 10 (ft) hyperfocal focusing distance, (f)16 aperture setting, and (1/)100th speed setting that with the Fast Pan (EI 50) film and a #5 flashbulb, the camera would shoot night or day like a big box camera...

There were some minor variations if the subject was close or far to this rule, but this was the baseline setting...

Steve K

Jim Galli
24-Jan-2017, 19:59
1/200 would indicate a Compur shutter of the period with a sync. Tested, that shutter speed would very likely be closer to 1/50th - 1/80th second. They never achieved the advertised, especially at the top end. He probably used GE #50 bulbs. Common as dirt for press photogs in the day. After a few hundred pics you just learn a foolproof bulletproof formula and consistency is achieved. The system was brute force. He didn't have to think about focus. Rack it out to the stop which is set for 10 - 15 feet, and the f16 takes care of the rest. With a loupe, the images would not impress us as terribly sharp, but news photogs did not care about that. The halftone process would take care of the rest. He wasn't making art.

24-Jan-2017, 20:41
1/200 would indicate a Compur shutter of the period with a sync. Tested, that shutter speed would very likely be closer to 1/50th - 1/80th second.

http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Flashbulbs

...cites durations of roughly 10 ms for F, X and S bulbs. At 1/200 you'd be throwing away a lot of the light and compromising your guide number, at 1/50-1/80 you should be getting all the punch you've paid for.

BrianShaw
24-Jan-2017, 21:53
Somebody might want to google "flash efficiency factor". When shutter speed gets faster than about 1/60, some of the flash light is lost. At 1/200 a lot of it is lost so exposure must be compensated accordingly.

But maybe one really needs an old book. Seems like the internet is too high tech to yield such archaic information!

One can observe the concept in the guide number tables, for example:

https://www.graflex.org/flash/ge-5.html

24-Jan-2017, 22:34
....He wasn't making art.

....but it turned out that way just the same.

bloodhoundbob
24-Jan-2017, 22:35
I shot many high school dances using film packs (probably Tri-X) using big ole' #22 bulbs. Was probably shooting at f-8 or 11, but can't remember what shutter speed for the life of me.

Randy Moe
25-Jan-2017, 00:20
Somebody might want to google "flash efficiency factor". When shutter speed gets faster than about 1/60, some of the flash light is lost. At 2/200 a lot of it is lost so exposure must be compensated accordingly.

But maybe one really needs an old book. Seems like the internet is too high tech to yield such archaic information!

One can observe the concept in the guide number tables, for example:

https://www.graflex.org/flash/ge-5.html

Yes, old books! Navy manual as found at http://www.graflex.org/flash/navy/ has all the answers presented in a smart way. Even showing how to analyze flashbulbs and sync by photographing them with Azo. Heck my Speed was made in 1951, my birth year and a year the Navy book was published.

I also have some very old, undated Azo that works well for me.

As for Art...

He left the building.

Jac@stafford.net
25-Jan-2017, 07:12
The answer appears to have been made, so an aside: I have a dozen of these bulbs (http://www.meggaflash.com/index.php/meggaflash-bulbs/pf330-flashbulb). Duration almost two seconds, peak for ~1.75 seconds. You can fit a lot of 1/200th second exposures in there.
.

BrianShaw
25-Jan-2017, 07:34
In terms of flash duration... those bulbs are waaaaaaaaaaaay out there, Jac. Does that filament burn from top-to-bottom (or bottom-to-top)? Or have you never looked into the bulb whilst it was burning????

Bill_1856
25-Jan-2017, 08:10
For you youngsters: These cameras were fired by solenoids powered by the batteries in the flashguns, and the sync delay was determined not by the shutter, but by the adjustment of the solenoid/shutter trip lever.
There's a hell of a lot of light in a Press 40 flashbulb.

Jac@stafford.net
25-Jan-2017, 08:16
In terms of flash duration... those bulbs are waaaaaaaaaaaay out there, Jac. Does that filament burn from top-to-bottom (or bottom-to-top)? Or have you never looked into the bulb whilst it was burning????

Very good!:)

Brian, I have not yet fired one! Frankly, they scare me. I'm hoping to find a collaborator who wishes to experiment. I also have a few Mazda #75 bulbs that I wouldn't load without welding gloves and goggles.

Bill_1856
25-Jan-2017, 08:18
The other thing that you need to remember is that Weegee was a world class Bullsh**ter, and anything you read about him should be taken with a grain of salt!

Jim Galli
25-Jan-2017, 08:19
In 2016 we try to make the numbers add up, but having lived through the era of brute force, and I always seem to parallel to automobiles, in that era you had 315 horse power under the hood but everyone knew you only needed 55 of those to get from stoplight to stoplight. Weegee could waste lumens and photons like crazy. He had a formula that worked, and the rest could go to waste.

As to art, maybe if I wait long enough, my crap will be considered art. But, oh yeah, I'll be as dead as weegee by then.

jnanian
25-Jan-2017, 08:48
as jr "bob" dobbs said " too much is always better than not enough "

Bob Salomon
25-Jan-2017, 08:50
For you youngsters: These cameras were fired by solenoids powered by the batteries in the flashguns, and the sync delay was determined not by the shutter, but by the adjustment of the solenoid/shutter trip lever.
There's a hell of a lot of light in a Press 40 flashbulb.

And the synch delay in the shutter. That timed the shutter to be fully open when the bulb reached its peak output. If it was electronic X synch then the shutter fired the flash when the film was fully uncovered be the shutter.

The solenoid only fired the shutter, not the bulb.

In other words, the solenoid fired the shutter, the shutter fired the flash. Both were powered by the batteries in the flash holder.

BrianShaw
25-Jan-2017, 08:59
And the synch delay in the shutter. That timed the shutter to be fully open when the bulb reached its peak output. If it was electronic X synch then the shutter fired the flash when the film was fully uncovered be the shutter.

The solenoid only fired the shutter, not the bulb.

In other words, the solenoid fired the shutter, the shutter fired the flash. Both were powered by the batteries in the flash holder.

Typo, Bob? Flashbulb triggered by a shutter on "X" would cause the shutter to open before the rise-time of the flashbulb burn.

I think you meant "X synch then the shutter fired the flash when the film was fully covered by the shutter."

But delay, whether induced by shutter or solenoid was only to get the shutter opened after the flashbulb burn started and as near the peak burn as possible (for full efficiency). When shutter speed is higher than 1/30 the exposure impact is due to the shutter being opened only during a smaller and smaller proportion of time during the flashbulb burn period. Burn time being essentially a bell curve and the area under the curve captured by shutter speeds greater than 1/30 being different... hence exposure correction needed.

But you know this... my diatribe is not intended to educate you, of course. :)

Bob Salomon
25-Jan-2017, 09:27
Typo, Bob? Flashbulb triggered by a shutter on "X" would cause the shutter to open before the rise-time of the flashbulb burn.

I think you meant "X synch then the shutter fired the flash when the film was fully covered by the shutter."

But delay, whether induced by shutter or solenoid was only to get the shutter opened after the flashbulb burn started and as near the peak burn as possible (for full efficiency). When shutter speed is higher than 1/30 the exposure impact is due to the shutter being opened only during a smaller and smaller proportion of time during the flashbulb burn period. Burn time being essentially a bell curve and the area under the cucrve captured by shutter speeds greater than 1/30 being different... hence exposure correction needed.

But you know this... my diatribe is not intended to educate you, of course. :)

No, I said that the shutter timed the firing the flash bulb to be open when the bulb hit peak outcome.
If it was an electronic flash then it fired the flash when the shutter fully exposed the film, that was X synch.

What I didn't mention was F synch for gas filled bulbs.

seezee
25-Jan-2017, 11:44
I've seen household-base flashbulbs that put out as much light as a 1000w/s flash.
There's a scene in the Preston Sturges film "Sullivan's Travels" where you can see a press camera with one of these bulbs. I did a double take when I saw it and had to rewind + pause to confirm what I'd seen.

Jac@stafford.net
25-Jan-2017, 12:05
No, I said that the shutter timed the firing the flash bulb to be open when the bulb hit peak outcome.
If it was an electronic flash then it fired the flash when the shutter fully exposed the film, that was X synch.

What I didn't mention was F synch for gas filled bulbs.

Of the several solenoids I have, the only adjustment is for length of throw which simply guarantees that the shutter is triggered. The shutter incorporates the delay(s). One particular shutter has three different settings for delay on a small dial.

An oddball flash is the Flash Tronic which accepts all kinds of bulbs and it does not use a battery. Instead it has a magneto built in and uses an adjustable cam (http://www.digoliardi.net/flasht_tronic_cam.jpg) to control delay which requires disassembly. :( Most of mine mount on the side of the camera (http://www.digoliardi.net/flashtronic-leica.jpg), however there are some oddball mounts including one for early LTM Leicas (http://www.digoliardi.net/leica-flashtronic.jpg).

BrianShaw
25-Jan-2017, 12:40
No, I said that the shutter timed the firing the flash bulb to be open when the bulb hit peak outcome.
If it was an electronic flash then it fired the flash when the shutter fully exposed the film, that was X synch.

What I didn't mention was F synch for gas filled bulbs.

BrianShaw
25-Jan-2017, 13:00
Of the several solenoids I have, the only adjustment is for length of throw which simply guarantees that the shutter is triggered. The shutter incorporates the delay(s). One particular shutter has three different settings for delay on a small dial.

[snip all that Leica stuff].

It depends on configuration and shutter ... as you know. I use flashbulbs on Anniversary graphic, mostly with a Dial Compur shuttered lens. Hence no synch at all so the solenoid throw is the only way to adjust the delay. Sometimes use with a Graphex X-M (red)-M (black) shuttered lens. I can configure to have the delay determined by either the solenoid or the shutter... depending on how I wire it up.

Jac@stafford.net
25-Jan-2017, 15:26
It depends on configuration and shutter ... as you know. I use flashbulbs on Anniversary graphic, mostly with a Dial Compur shuttered lens. Hence no synch at all so the solenoid throw is the only way to adjust the delay. Sometimes use with a Graphex X-M (red)-M (black) shuttered lens. I can configure to have the delay determined by either the solenoid or the shutter... depending on how I wire it up.

Brian, that information is worth a detailed DIY. Clearly, my experience is incomplete.
.

BrianShaw
25-Jan-2017, 16:20
Brian, that information is worth a detailed DIY. Clearly, my experience is incomplete.
.

I learned all of the tricks I know from the Graflite instruction manual. It's all there but the flexibility makes it a moderately hard read. If one has xperience reading wiring diagrams it helps.

Doug Herta
26-Jan-2017, 00:34
OK - I am game to try.

I have the 1946 Speed Graphic with Ektar 127mm lens and Supermatic shutter (I know -too new). Flash with 7-inch polished reflector. The #50 bulbs on hand are S (slow peak) that require a 30ms delay, and the Supermatic only allows for setting a 5ms or 20ms delay. The crumbling cardboard sleeve indicates that if the shutter cannot be adjusted for 30ms then a shutter speed of 1/50th or slower must be used. So that won't work for the experiment.

The Sylvania #2 and the MegaFlash PF200 (both medium peak) have identical guide number specifications. It looks like if I use FP4 (rated at ISO 100) at 1/200th of a sec I would have a GN of 260, which should be plenty bright at 10-15 feet at f16. Some of the Sylvania "Blue Dot" bulbs have a dot that is still blue(!) so they are still sealed and likely candidates for this experiment.

For the full Weegee experience I need a dark night (plentiful this time of year in Seattle), and dead bodies or a burning building (neither are plentiful nor desirable).

Would this be legitimate excercise? Should I be using slower film? Bigger flash bulbs? If I use dual bulb arrangement you will probably see the flash in Minneapolis.

BrianShaw
26-Jan-2017, 05:45
You'd do a lot better if you used the class-M bulbs rather than trying the specialized/extreme bulbs until you learn the basics. FP-4+ is a fine film to use with bulbs. You'll be surprised how much light is in those bulbs so save your phantasy about using more than one for really expansive scenes. Also suggest you use a more traditional shutter speed for flashbulbs. You'll have better success I think.

Jac@stafford.net
26-Jan-2017, 07:09
Bigger flash bulbs? If I use dual bulb arrangement you will probably see the flash in Minneapolis.

:) That would freak us out. Actually two bulbs add one stop, then to add another stop you would need four.

To be even more genuine, develop the film in the trunk of an old car.

LabRat
26-Jan-2017, 07:21
Two Bulbs on camera!?!!!

Perfect for that "deer in the headlights" look on your (victim) subject...

(And the last thing they saw before the aliens started the exam...) :-@

Steve K

mjork
26-Jan-2017, 11:40
When you are taking Weegee style photos of some outdoor crime scene, don't forget that the guide number table printed on the flashbulb package isn't meant for that use. The assumption for those GNs is use indoors in some medium sized room. Outdoors the flashbulb will be exactly one stop less effective.
For example the official GE #5 flashbulb GN for your FP4+ (ISO 125) at 1/200s is 180. But outdoors you should use GN 120 instead. That would mean using approximately f/11 at 10ft.

Randy Moe
26-Jan-2017, 11:45
Good advice. Never heard that before.

Thanks!

Bob Salomon
26-Jan-2017, 13:38
When you are taking Weegee style photos of some outdoor crime scene, don't forget that the guide number table printed on the flashbulb package isn't meant for that use. The assumption for those GNs is use indoors in some medium sized room. Outdoors the flashbulb will be exactly one stop less effective.
For example the official GE #5 flashbulb GN for your FP4+ (ISO 125) at 1/200s is 180. But outdoors you should use GN 120 instead. That would mean using approximately f/11 at 10ft.

Actually for average rooms. That would not be the correct GN in large spaces like churches, gyms, auditoriums, etc. it also assumes average reflective surfaces. It would be incorrect in very dark walled rooms.

David Lobato
26-Jan-2017, 17:05
Weegee could waste lumens and photons like crazy. He had a formula that worked, and the rest could go to waste.

One would learn from experience how to settle on their own flash method. So what if a shutter is open for less time than the flash duration? With as much light as those flashbulbs output one might only need a portion of the flash duration to properly expose a sheet of film. Especially at less than 15 feet away (look at those old photos, prone man 5 feet from the camera, crowd 15 feet away). Then tailor film speed and developing to that normal exposure. Once dialed in it's the same again and again.

Jac@stafford.net
26-Jan-2017, 18:22
[...]Then tailor film speed and developing to that normal exposure. Once dialed in it's the same again and again.

Hah. Weegee tailoring his development? From the trunk of his car or home? I think not.

BrianShaw
26-Jan-2017, 19:01
It's not about wasting or conserving lumens. It's about knowing how many lumens the film sees. That's done mostly with exposure settings; not so much with processing mods.

Bill_1856
26-Jan-2017, 21:56
I don't recall any of my pre WW2 shutters having sync posts.

BrianShaw
27-Jan-2017, 06:07
I don't recall any of my pre WW2 shutters having sync posts.

True, I have the same memory/observation... but why is that an impediment?

LabRat
27-Jan-2017, 07:43
True, I have the same memory/observation... but why is that an impediment?

Yea, the earlier solenoid systems were the standard, but the later delay sync shutters could be dialed in for different delays for different types of lamps... But most of the delay shutters sync had to be cocked, adding an extra step while fast shooting... And firing the flash from the flashholder made the condition of the sync contacts less critical, and less dependent of contact problems from cords, etc transferring enough low current from some batteries to reliably fire a bulb (but enough to trip the solenoid)... I'm sure there were photogs that were for or against each system...

At least sync triggering was later appreciated when early strobes came along, and if they had X sync, they were good to go...

Steve K