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Thread: using fill flash with view camera

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Posts
    31

    using fill flash with view camera

    I'd like to ask about a subject I've not seen covered here. How would I go about using a fill flash with a view camera to photograph a subject outdoors? What special equipment would I need, if any? Recommendations on make and model of strobe. I think flash synchronization is achieved with a dual cable release, but I've never seen or heard about the other aspects of this subject.

    - Ray

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Mar 1998
    Posts
    1,973

    using fill flash with view camera

    Part of the answer is: how much money do you want to spent? You can do it with everything from a Vivitar 283 (approx 50 watt seconds) to the Hensel Porty (a 1200 w/s battery powered strobe) or a Comet PMT (another 1200 w/s battery powered unit). Somewhere in the middle is a 400 w/s Lumadyne (another battery powered unit). I have used all three. I think the special equipment beyond the lighting itself will be one or two light stands. light modifiers like umbrellas, softboxes or "grid spots", sandbags, a sync system I prefer not to be plugged in directly to any high voltage flash equipment after being shocked badly years and years ago) which can include either a long sync cord, or a radio remote like the Bogen/LPA Pocket Wizard and appropriate sync cords, and of course a meter that reads both flash and ambient light. Hopefully you already use Polaroid. you won't need a dual cable release. View Camera just ran an article about Shelby Lee Adams and his portraits in Appalachia that contained several examples of his use flash in remote locations.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 1998
    Location
    Anchorage, AK
    Posts
    276

    using fill flash with view camera

    I have a fairly simple approach.

    All of my Copal shutters will accept a PC sync cord. I have a 3 m cord with a basic shoe to which I attach my flash. I've been using a Pentax 280T, because that's what I had. Tripping the shutter trips the flash.

    After composing, setting the aperture, and preparing the film for exposure, I set the shutter to about 1/250'. I use this speed because I can do multiple pops of the flash without exposing any areas of the composition that won't be flashed. After all, how often will ambient light be effective at 1/250' and, say, f 45?

    I expose the areas of interest that need fill flash to -1 to -1 2/3 stops from the ambient. It's a matter of taste. I use the scale on the flash to determine the number of pops for a given aperture.

    Now turn off the flash. Set the shutter to the appropriate value for the ambient light and make your exposure.

    Source of frustration - it takes about 4' for my flash to recycle. This is a long time when the sun is setting and 4 or more flashes are needed. Sometimes it's better to do the ambient exposure first, and then the fill flash. That way you get the image if the light is changing. A larger flash would also work, but they are heavier.

    Best wishes, Bruce

  4. #4

    using fill flash with view camera

    I use the pocket wizards from LPA desing / Bogen, they work great... also, since they are a bit pricey, I fire many of the remots via a Wein flash slaves, it goes off when it detects the first flash going off. These are only like $50 vs. $200 for a pocket wizard receiver. You will only need one transmitter and one receiver, about $360. Then for flashes, I find the biggest bang for the buck, i.e. guide number for the dollar is the Cannon 540 EZ flashes.. only $200 for 190 guide number. For this price, I string a bunch of these together and have a very powerful battery operated flash system. Of course they are not equipped with the automatic mode, however, since I read all my flash reading via a reflective spot meter, I do not need this feature, and don't reccommend it since there is way to many variables that can fool you, nothing beats a straight reading from a reflective meter. I also hold a large piece of cardboard, of 18% grey at the subject area (s) and flash them to get my readings from the camera postion. Another maker of flashes, Japan made, I think they are called Nikki.. or something like that, distributed by REI in USA has 195 guide number flahses for low as $165. I am not sure if you have tried this before, but it takes a lot of flash power to overcome daylight shadows of large subjects, especially if the flash is located out of the scene, then you need a ton on flash. I locate the flashes as close to the scene as I can then remove them digitaly since all those flahses with stands appear quite odd.. hope this helps ys.. good luck...

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jan 1999
    Posts
    94

    using fill flash with view camera

    Bill, I doubt that the 540EZ has a guide number 190. It is 177 ft fully zoomed to ~100 mm focal length.

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