Sun Gun

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Truzi, May 4, 2013.

  1. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I want to do some informal portraits with my recently acquired Bronica GS-1. Nothing fancy, just taking some nice photos in a living room. I don't have a flash yet for this camera, and I think a flash may be too distracting when photographing my best friend's 9-month-old nephew; it will be difficult enough to get him to pose.

    Somewhere around the house we have an old floodlight my father used for Super 8 movies. It is similar to this Sylvania Sun Gun:
    http://static.flickr.com/40/121134224_09f0192809_b.jpg

    Having had to hold it as a child, yes, I know how dangerous it can be.

    Bounced off the ceiling, would that old movie light be okay in lieu of a flash or studio lighting? I'm planning on Portra 160, and maybe some B&W.

    This is just for family photos, mostly for fun. Nothing critical or frequent enough to invest in real studio lights.
     
  2. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I remember reading that you shouldn't use any kind of flash on babies. Their pupils can't react fast enough to block the light when the flash goes off.

    What about a daylight balanced compact fluorescent lamp in a portable clip-on shop light?
    Don't know if that would actually work well. Just guessing.
     
  3. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,235
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There is a decent chance that that Sylvania lamp and your floodlight would work with tungsten balanced film, but for Portra 160 you would need to filter it, which would effectively reduce the film's speed.

    And B & W film tends to be slower with tungsten sources.
     
  4. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hmm, I didn't think about the color balance. Since it worked with Super 8 indoors I thought it might have been the same balance as a strobe.
    Thanx for pointing that out.

    If I remember correctly, it was quite bright, so a filter shouldn't be an issue, and I'm not against Portra 400.
    The last time the light & camera were used I was in my early teens, so I don't remember if my Father had different Super 8 films for indoor and out. I know he didn't have a filter, but never really learned anything about it.

    As for "daylight" fluorescents, I know how those work and they are no substitute for daylight.
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,235
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A lot of the Kodachrome Super 8 was Type "A" film - tungsten balanced.

    And many of the cameras had built in switched filtration.
     
  6. Mr Bill

    Mr Bill Member

    Messages:
    359
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2006
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Truzi, you're fighting an uphill battle with that floodlight. As Matt implies, the color balance is wrong. If you filter properly, you lose a couple stops of light (for filtering info, see the Kodak data sheets for Portra).

    Indoors, flash is the most sensible way to do it. (It won't be a problem for the child.) Without a flash, you're probably better off to find bright enough "outdoor" light, be it coming through a window or simply go to a shaded area outdoors.

    As far as getting the child to pose, have you ever seen one of those goofy photographers with the little stuffed animal saying, "Here comes the bear, he's gonna get'em, get'em, get'em, GET'EM?" Well, guess what, at 9 months, that's exactly what you want to be trying. A 9-month old can probably sit up by himself, and he'll stay put as long as you keep his attention. I know you probably won't want to do the stuffed animal schtick, so try whatever suits you. If it works, great! If not, the stuffed animal will (I've done this sort of thing before). Good luck.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2013
  7. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't think they did that back when I was that age :D I do remember one episode when I was about 8 with some portrait photographer doing the "watch the birdie" thing, and I thought it was a movie cliche at the time.

    He's furniture walking already, and my best friend can get his attention; he responds well to her. I only have to worry about the camera.
    I do need to get a flash for the camera when funds allow and one pops up. If I wait long enough (and I'm one hell of a procrastinator), the weather will be nice enough to do it outside.
     
  8. polyglot

    polyglot Member

    Messages:
    3,469
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    South Austra
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Lighting with a flood is a painful thing - films are not so sensitive to the reddish light and there's not very much of it. They're mostly heaters and you will have problematically long exposures, even with direct (harsh) illumination. Expect to get at least 1 stop less sensitivity from B&W film than metered, and lose 2 stops if you use a tungsten/daylight conversion filter. And those filters assume 3600K whereas most cheap floodlights are 2500K, so you'll probably still end up with a dim orange result.

    Flash is fine for children of all ages - say you shoot ISO160 and f/16, that's less than 1/100s of daylight equivalent and while that might surprise a subject it's not in any way dangerous. Any subject will quickly get used to the light (and popping sound of large strobes) if you warn them and set it off a few times. No one's pupils or eyelids can react faster than the approx 1/1000s flash duration, which is why you get nice wide pupils in studio shots.
     
  9. jp498

    jp498 Member

    Messages:
    1,467
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Location:
    Owls Head ME
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Flash is fine for children. My kids have experienced quite a bit of it and enjoyed it.
     
  10. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,397
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    This nonsense keeps getting posted over and over again despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Please don't tell me you think that any human pupil would be fast enough to properly respond to an electronic flash, we are talking sub milliseconds here.

    If flash was a problem for newborns, we'd have a whole generation of blind people by now. Think about all these gazillions of P&S cameras used every day by their loving relatives at very close range to fill the frame. These pics are frequently overexposed because the cameras can't even tune down their flash enough for proper exposure.
     
  11. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Keep in mind I basically take snapshots. I've only recently tried to become "good" at photography, so I may be over-complicating things needlessly.

    Personally, I'm not worried about flash and babies. Also, his parents have taken a lot of flash pictures with digital, so he is used to it. I just wanted to make things a little easier (and show them what film can do by presenting some nice enlargements). I'll do the B&W myself, but will have a lab process and print the color at this point.

    The baby is African American with a dark complexion, and the adoptive parents are European American (the mother, my best friend's sister, being fairly light/pasty). I know this won't be a problem with color film. However, I've not used much B&W; I'm still learning how to use it. The few times I photographed mixed skin in B&W, I never mastered the exposure; I learned to do black & Hispanic, and Hispanic & white, but always had a problem with black and white subjects together. Even with burning and dodging (I'm not good at that either), it was difficult to get a decent print.

    A photographer friend has given me some good advice, but it is for no-flash. Perhaps I could use flash for color and ambient light with a 400 ISO B&W film (after figuring out how to rate it for tungsten).

    The only flash I have with x-sync is my Grandfather's old VIvitar 252 from his 35mm. I don't know if the flash will have enough coverage (plus I have to learn to use x-sync, lol).
     
  12. polyglot

    polyglot Member

    Messages:
    3,469
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    South Austra
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'm not sure by what you mean by "with X-sync" because all electronic flashes are "X-sync" (as opposed to M-sync), i.e. they fire immediately rather than after a short delay. If you mean that it's the only one you own with a PC connector (the little 5mm coaxial thing like a tiny RCA socket), you can get cheap little hotshoe adapters with the appropriate port or (better yet) just get a cheap chinese radio remote which will include x-sync ports and a hotshoe on the receivers - will work with any hotshoe flash that doesn't have high voltage on its trigger pin. If you mean that you don't know how to determine exposure, you can test that with a DSLR if you have one - shoot a frame, adjust the flash power or aperture, repeat until exposure is good then expose your film with the chosen settings.

    Try using some grazing light on the baby's face to produce specular highlights. And try to ensure it's not wearing bright white clothing.
     
  13. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sorry, I mean it has the PC cable, I got used to referring to it as X-synch because I've a couple old "accessory shoe"/"cold shoe" cameras where I use the connection for electronic flash. I've incorrectly used it as a name for the connection (like some people use the terms rs232 and rj45 incorrectly).

    The Bronica manual says the PC cable should always be connected, but I assume this is true only when NOT using the Speedgrip G, which I have. The Speedgrip has an hot shoe that does fire the flash, but this whole camera is a slightly different animal to what I'm used to, so I'm being extra dense.
    Link to PDF Bronica Manual, it's on page 26:
    http://www.cameramanuals.org/bronica/bronica_gs-1.pdf

    I can't find a link to the Speedgrip manual, but have one. All it does is tell you how to attach it (which hardly seems necessary). For the Bronica flash it says consult it's manual. For other flashes all it states is:
    "When using electronic flash units, other than Speed Light G1, check operations first before using them in the manual mode if there are dedicated contacts besides the X-synch contact."

    I am pretty sure I'm over-thinking this.

    The only digital camera I have ever owned was one of those "single-use" cameras. I bought it specifically to solder an USB connector to the board and re-use it. Basically, I did it for fun and to see if I could, just as I re-used single-use film cameras.
     
  14. polyglot

    polyglot Member

    Messages:
    3,469
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    South Austra
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I don't know Bronicas from a bar of soap, but since you have a hot-shoe on it, then you can probably use any old hotshoe flash therein. The warnings about extra connectors pertain to more modern (with TTL metering, etc) flashes that have more pins on the bottom of the flash foot. Some hot shoes can short out the control pins on the modern flashes and make them malfunction. A bit of insulating tape to cover the extra pins will generally solve that problem.

    Getting the flash exposure right without a flash meter or a digital camera to preview your exposures is very difficult. You can get flashes with "A mode", which have a light sensor in the front of the flash. They work semi-automatically on any camera, you just need to dial the same ISO and aperture settings into the flash as you do into the camera, and the flash will make the exposure decisions for you. Apparently it works OK for negative film and with bouncing but I've never tried it and wouldn't trust it for a portrait session that mattered.

    It might be best if you didn't use flash in this specific case, just for lack of the right tools. You'd probably be better off going outdoors and using a nice big foil reflector to balance the light.
     
  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,235
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've used several "automatic", non-TTl flashes for years and found them excellent.

    They work just about as well as centre-weighted metering in a camera. If you understand what they are doing, and don't point them the wrong way, they will reward you with well exposed flash shots.

    Admittedly, the flashes I have used are good ones (Metz 60CT series, Olympus T32 and T20, various good Vivitar models).
     
  16. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    551
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2011
    Location:
    Chattanooga
    Shooter:
    35mm
    If shooting indoors in a room with a white ceiling, think about using flash with one of these attached:

    http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Gary-Fong-Lightsphere/

    I get excellent results with it in those circumstances. The flash essentially becomes part bounce and part forward radiating, with very soft modeling.

    It works best with a flash with auto setting or TTL. Otherwise you have to guesstimate the correct setting or use a flash meter.
     
  17. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Obviously I don't either, lol. I've only had it a few months, and have only run two rolls through it so far.

    After spending time on the web looking for degrees of coverage/illumination, sync voltage, etc. I came to the conclusion that I am in fact over-complicating things.
    I have a back from ebay I've not used yet, as well as some expired 220 film that needs to be tested. I'll test some frames with the flash. The flash has an automatic mode, and the Bronica has leaf shutters. I'll check the contacts on the flash to be safe.

    That reminds me of an old skit by Cleveland (Ohio) area late-night movie hosts Hoolihan and Big Chuck:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm8m0fh8nIo&list=PL39404160CF67B70B&index=128

    Thanks everyone for the advice.
     
  18. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,072
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you want, bounce the sun gun or flash it will give very soft natural shadows. Obviously the flash must be pointed at the ceiling.
    pointing either light will give harsher shadows. For B&W increase the exposure a bit.
    An 80B filter will correct Portra for use with your sun gun which is a 3400k source. You need to increase exposure by
    1 1/2 - 2 stops.
    Movie lights were made to be used with Kodachrome Type A film, which was balanced for 3400k.

    For exposure with mixed complexions use an incident light meter or with a reflected meter, read the palm of your hand
    and open the lens by one stop. This should be a starting point and depending on results can be modified up or down.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2013
  19. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

    Messages:
    2,058
    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2005
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    "And B & W film tends to be slower with tungsten sources."

    Boy is that an outdated fact. The difference today is so minimal as to be a non-factor.

    Use the light you have. bounce it off the ceiling and or walls. Add fill light with ordinary house lamps, probably with shades removed. All photographs do not need to be made at 1/125 @f16!
    1/25 @f4 or f5.6 makes lovely portraits. With adults, I often have exposures of 1/2@f4 on 8x10 or 7x17" film.
     
  20. polyglot

    polyglot Member

    Messages:
    3,469
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    South Austra
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    There is about one stop difference according to my sensitometry tests. Acros is the worst of the modern films but those with extended red (SFX200, 2405) show no difference.

    It depends of course on your meter. If your light meter is lacking in red sensitivity then you won't observe the effect and the extended-red films will look faster!
     
  21. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just to update, I tried my little Vivitar 252 on the Bronica and it worked well enough. Coverage was decent and it should work for portraits, but I will have to experiment a bit. I'm not used to having a choice of shutter speeds with flash.
    It will hold me over until I can find (and afford) a proper flash for the camera.
     
  22. Noble

    Noble Member

    Messages:
    277
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Leaf shutters like the one on your Bronica have no effect on what the flash is doing. Shutter speed is only adjusted to change how much ambient light hits the film. Indoors it will have a negligible effect at hand holdable speeds with 100 ISO film at apetures like f/8. What you can do is shoot a test roll without a flash. Shot the camera indoors at f/8 1/500. Now do it at f/8 1/60. Then see what the difference is. They are booth going to be very underexposed. The 1/500 of a second exposure more so. Sometimes you may want ambient light to play a roll. Look up "dragging the shutter." And of course there is fill flash where ambient light is doing all the heavy lifting and the flash is just eliminating some shadows.

    I actually use the leaf shutters to my advantage when shooting a subject with a window behind them. You can bounce flash the flash the flash off ceiling to illuminate your subject but set the shutter speed to correcty expose the brightly lit scene behind the subject. So even if the outdoor scene outside the window requires a 1/500 exposure with a leaf shutter you can still get that exposed correctly and use a flash. On some cameras that only sync at 1/125 or 1/250 of a second at most you are screwed. The scene outside the window will be overexposed. Of course you can stop down your aperture but that might mess up your bokeh and depth of field. It will also require more power from your flash to properly illuminate the portrait through a smaller aperture.
     
  23. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In the past I avoided windows for the reasons you mentioned above (unless I was just taking a snapshot (which was most of the time)). For family photos on holidays, for example, windows caused me problems; I never even considered using them for effect.