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  1. #1
    RPippin's Avatar
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    Filter for flash

    Basic question. What is the best filter for shooting indoors with mixed lighting with flash? I'm going to be shooting in a night club, stage shot, with a small spot and I have a Vivitar flash on my Bronica SQA. I'm shooting Astia 100F film, but would like to hear about other film choices as well. Basically I'm looking for specific filters compatible with on camera flash for color print or slide film.

  2. #2
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Hey Richard. Consider provia 400x or one of the 100 speed color print films. You might have a local friend who will loan you some

    For flash filters, just google "flash gels."
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  3. #3
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Oh wait, you are talking about a filter for the lens, for when you are shooting with flash??? I thought you were asking about filters for the flash itself, sorry. Sometimes people gel flashes to balance with other ambient light or get interesting colors....
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  4. #4
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    You have two problems here:
    - the spotlight is probably tungsten and probably not a photoflood, which means it will be really really orange, and
    - the flash colour is different from the spot colour.

    You have a few options. First of all, you can put a CTO ("colour temp orange") gel on the flash and it will convert that to a similar hue to what the spotlight produces. However, you will end up with a horrible orange image on your film. You could put a Tungsten-to-Daylight filter on your lens and end up with a vaguely-correct hue, but it's going to be ugly and you're going to lose about 2 stops of light to that filter. Getting enough light to shoot someone on stage is hard enough but shooting at the equivalent of ISO25 (Astia plus Tungsten filter) is going to be horrible-to-impossible. And you'd need huge flash power to get through both the CTO and Tungsten filters, each of which is designed to pretty much filter out everything that got through the other.

    I would recommend instead that you shoot a fast negative film, e.g. Portra 400 or 800 if you want colour, otherwise TMY2 or Delta-3200 (both are good at about 1600). Keep in mind that B&W films aren't very sensitive to red/orange light from the spot, so you probably want to give about 1 stop more exposure for the spot than indicated by your meter. And you have similar problems with colour-neg film - the orange light from the spot has about 1.5 to 2 stops less blue light than red light, which means the blue layer in the film will have dropped off the toe while the red is still registering, which leads to really bad colour quality. If you're using colour-neg, give it an extra stop of exposure to be safe. Maybe also push the film a little in development, though you will have problems with high contrast already in that light.

    If you have control of the stage, putting up a big softbox for your flash and using short flash-only exposures would be a good option. Probably piss the audience off though.

  5. #5
    olleorama's Avatar
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    Have a (few) friend(s) hold a flash with a tight grid on a boom. Sync with radio. That way, your flash will look like the spot light. You can crank up shutter speed and nobody will probably get pissed of, except the people on stage. You wont need to gel it, unless you want the flash to look like tungsten, or someway in between tungsten and flash (which usually is pretty nice). Loads of power needed as polyglot (excellent reply) said, specially with that slow film.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by olleorama View Post
    Have a (few) friend(s) hold a flash with a tight grid on a boom. Sync with radio. That way, your flash will look like the spot light. You can crank up shutter speed and nobody will probably get pissed of, except the people on stage. You wont need to gel it, unless you want the flash to look like tungsten, or someway in between tungsten and flash (which usually is pretty nice). Loads of power needed as polyglot (excellent reply) said, specially with that slow film.
    If you increased the shutter speed, wouldn't you have different colors where the shutter wasn't fully open when the flash went off?
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  7. #7
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Koehrer View Post
    If you increased the shutter speed, wouldn't you have different colors where the shutter wasn't fully open when the flash went off?
    Well obviously don't go faster than your X-sync speed if using a curtain shutter. OP has an SQ-A though which I believe has a leaf shutter so should sync at all speeds.

    Given dim stage lighting and typical MF apertures (f/4 at largest), the spot is unlikely to even register on the film at 1/125 and you end up with a flash-only exposure, which of course renders the spot colour irrelevant. Just need to not use direct on-camera flash for
    that morgue-photo look.

  8. #8
    olleorama's Avatar
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    Best of course would be a fresnel spot

  9. #9
    Dan Quan's Avatar
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    If you'd like to filter the flash then consider using Rosco or Lee filters from a swatch book. They may be slightly small but some black tape should cover any spill points. They are really inexpensive and allow you to match virtually any light source and offer a wide array of party gels as well. I just tape them to the front of the flash. Correction can be made for any tungsten, mercury vapor, sodium vapor etc.

    Different manufactures color correction gels differ slightly in precise color, so it may be prudent to stick with one for precise correction. I actually prefer the CTO colors of the Lee, but they were not widely available when I put my kit together so I went with Rosco. The Nikon version of CTO is slightly different than either and I keep it marked in the Rosco book. I keep a complete book on hand for comparison and to make sure every thing goes back in it's proper place. The bracelet is organized in the original order of the swatch book and the filter names and factor in stops are Sharpied on each filter, with a filter for each of my small flash units.

    The bracelet holding the filters is actually a bracelet with magnetic clasp. The magnet is easy to open and close and the filters move easily but not freely past the clasp and around the beadwork. Originally I used a plain wire bracelet and screw clasp which allowed the filters to move readily and quickly along the bracelet. Unfortunately I dropped it once while on assignment and the unrestricted movement allowed filters to spill across the conference room floor. For me this is slower but more controllable. The tape dispenser on the back is hot-glued in place and readily available at office supply stores.

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