Rolleiflex and off-camera flash? Larry Fink style
I'm planning to take some photos at a music/social event some time next week. In the past I've used rangefinders with fast 35mm, and sometimes an SLR. However, I had a fancy this time for using medium format film and flash, Larry Fink style, as I've always admired that look with the off-camera flash.
I gather than Fink mostly uses Mamiya RFs, but has used TLRs in the past? I was wondering if anyone had any tips on how one might make this work with a TLR?
I have access to a couple of different flashes, with sync cords than can be attached to my Rolleiflex, and also a cheap L-shaped flash bracket that I can hook onto my Rolleifix. However, I can see how one might struggle to hold the camera with one hand, and the flash with the other.
Any tips? Also, any tips on film speed? If I shoot 400 film I can probably take a few available light shots, but with a slower film I might be able to open the camera up a little more on some shots?
I looked through a bunch of Larry Fink images and he has lots different lighting techniques including some what I would call on camera. I am a Rollei user and am well used to using it but in a situation of a crowd that is quick moving and you want to be spontaneous and do quick accurate focusing I find it very difficult to use. I put a prism on the camera and I have a cheap L bracket on the left side with a flash that allows focusing and holding the camera with one hand while keeping the other hand for film advance and shutter pushing. With that set up I can actually shoot some wedding candid type stuff but still it is not so easy to focus precisely and quickly. The L bracket works well and you can put a small flash like a Vivitar 283 on it. Perhaps if you kept the focus at a specific range and then made certain to take your photos from about that distance you could forget the focus. I would think using the WLF would be very frustrating and difficult. Definitely a faster film is good. Even Delta 3200.
I expect with a flash I'll have enough depth of field that absolutely super accurate focus won't be necessary. Plus the people I'm photographing are friends, so if I don't get every shot, it's not a problem, I'm just doing it for my own amusement more than anything else.
But yeah, it's the handling that I'm concerned about - holding the camera and the flash at the same time. I might have a go at taking a test roll later this week, just shooting at home to see if I can make it work.
As Dennis said, an L-bracket is a great tool in situations like this. You might be able to find a used one inexpensively in a camera shop's bin of used gear and old camera cases. If you have only a small flash, the Delta 3200 is another excellent suggestion. Its low contrast and incredible tonal range will give you extra insurance.
I already have an L-bracket. Not the greatest but it works, although I've not used it with the Rollie I have used it with another MF camera. I've a range of flashes. Nikon SB-20, a couple of Contax TLA30s, and some smaller flashes I'd normally use with a rangefinder.
I have access to a couple of different flashes, with sync cords than can be attached to my Rolleiflex, and also a cheap L-shaped flash bracket that I can hook onto my Rolleifix
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I've been using my Rolleicord with off-camera flash lately, and given an L-bracket I don't see the problem with handling. Hold by the bracket, focus and fire with the right hand. As far as I can tell the same approach should work with a 'flex---I haven't tried because I only have a 1/2" thread on the bracket, though.
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Yeah, I suppose I wonder if a short L-bracket gets the flash far enough away from the lens. I gather Fink uses a longer sync cable and has the flash at arms length. I can't imagine how I can make that work, though! So L-bracket it'll need to be.
I've done quite a lot of photography with off camera flash and a Rolleiflex Automat MX and have never really had a problem holding the flash whilst releasing the shutter.
i usually use 100asa or 400asa film, set my focus to about 3 meters and snap away, making sure that whatever i'm photographing is within my depth of field for f22/f16. I think this was pretty much standard practice for 50's press photographers like Weegee etc. so i'd be suprised if fink didn't adopt some of these practices too. it just means you can be a little quicker and not have to mess around with focusing.
i usually have the flash held in my left hand and hold the base of the camera in my right palm, using my thumb to press the shutter. Its a bit slap dash and i don't even use the viewfinder as much as i should but it works.
I've added a link to my blog where i've taken some (not necessarily brilliant) Larry Fink-esque shots at a family wedding....
The Rollei's sports finder is useful in this kind of situation. If possible use a quick release bracket for the flash, and as Dan suggests, hold it in your left hand support the camera with your right hand, frame the shot and press the release.
Since the sports finder doesn't have parallax correction, don't frame too tightly. Depending on which model you have, you can check focus with the little magnifier window under the sports finder view port.
i have done this sort of thing with a yashicamat as well as a speed graphic.
with the speed graphic i used a bacharach bracket that slipped into a cold shoe
but it also had a screw mount so i attached it to the side tripod hole. for the yashica
i used a grip with a cold shoe and mounted the flash on the hand grip. if you can find
a bacharach bracket or a simple flash bracket
( or even an inexpensive stroboframe ) that has a cold shoe mount,
you can mount it into the flash mount on your camera without a problem. get good
with your flash settings / focus distances and have focus settings and use the sports finder
or your ground glass to frame. if you are stopped down everything you need with be in focus.
i shot wedding like this but with a pen ft on a hand grip/bracket and it worked very well ...
sunpacks or lumedyne flashes with a thyrister ( auto ) functions that choke the flash down for
whatever f-stop you are shooting work very well for this too.
have fun !