Originally Posted by Early Riser
Yes, Dick is still doing his magic. I had the pleasure of assisting him with some of his personal work just before Christmas, and he still does the Garrett Wade catalog.
We found the guy who still repairs Ascors, but it meant shipping the pack and a head (he didn't have a head to test the pack with) to Milwaukee. The Ascor stuff hasn't been disposed of - it is still there.
The "Strobe" company was still in business, in Wandsworth, until a couple of years ago - run by Tim Cecil, son of the original Strobe designer. I understand that Tim's dad had been an engineer in the RAF and a keen sailor - one look at a Strobe and you can see that it's part wellington bomber and part ocean going yatch.
"As late as 1970, reasonably powerful studio flash was huge, heavy and expensive: the 5000 W-s Strobe Equipment box we used at Plough Photography in the early 70s was a monster. Each of the five 1000 W-s capacitor boxes was getting on for three feet square and maybe six inches thick." Roger Hicks
I still use my Strobe equipment, I've a 5000J "City" unit and a 2400J "Location", here in my flat, along with a couple of strips, several standard heads and an "SFF" (Super Fish Fryer!). Sadly, I don't get many opportunities to run the power up to full - if I did, I reckon it might cause passers by to blink somewhat...(It'd probably lift the ceiling by a foot or two as well...).
Unfortunately, when I closed my last studio, the "Swimming Pool" had to go and live in the garage - along with it's 5000J Magnaflash power unit, which sat on the same trolley and acted as a humungous counterweight. I'd guess the whole thing stands 9 ft high and weighs about 250-300 kg.
Nevertheless, it gives a lovely light and I don't think I could ever bear to be seperated from it.
Ilford Master Associate
Originally Posted by jerry lebens
If I thought I could get it back to rural France, AND that I could get it up to my studio (15 feet above the back yard) I'd come begging, promising it all a good home.
But as we both know, Strobe Equipment (I think that was their actual name) is dangerous to work on. I know one mechanic who discharged the residual charge in a Strobe capacitor -- and vapourised the screwdriver he used to short the terminals...
SE's closure was noted in the BJ; I shed a silent tear. We shall not see their like again, unless Christian versions of hell are accurate. Imagine being condemned to repair Magnaflashes for all eternity -- in drizzling rain.
It was, as you say, a lovely light. As far as I recall, we had one SWP (with the big counterbalance you describe), two 2000 packs, an FF, an SFF and four strips (why no funny name?) all based on 1000 W-s tubes.
It would have been around 1950. The guys starting their studios after coming out of WW2 quickly switched to strobes, while the older, established studios took longer to make the change. I believe that Honeywell (or Heiland?) was first in the late 1940s with suitable big strobes for portraits which incorporated modeling lights.
The Kodatron, which was available in 1940, had a modelling lamp in the U of the flash tube, inside the protective glass envelope. The basic outfit was rather low energy, but it could be connected to an 800 Ws pack.
My own flash units are mostly bang-up-to-date Dyna-Lite D804 IIs and a D804.
Last edited by Helen B; 01-06-2007 at 12:17 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
At the risk of starting a Strobe Equipment Nostalgia thread, there were many stories of the injuries the gear managed to inflict on unsuspecting or incautious assistants – like the guy who tried to pull a plug out without first discharging the pack (he welded it solid). Oddly, I never saw any of these things myself, though a friend once proudly displayed a neatly cauterised hole in his thumb he claimed he got when he accidently caused a flash head to discharge through it. Mmmm!
I vaguely remember visiting David Cecil in his workshop (Cowcross Street?). He always seemed to have a slightly harrassed look. Can't think why....
In terms of your pic, I'd wager that it was done simply, incandescent bulbs in reflectors. For baby pics and the like those were the most-cost-effective and common in those days. Unless you left out the part about the family summer estate in the background of the photo or something like that.
The Photogenic AA series was introduced in the 60s and was a very common system. The first pack allowed the use of 4 heads and used ratio plugs to set the flash balance. All of the heads are nearly indestructable with a minimum of components, and use an automotive signal lamp for modeling. Although these came with parabolic dish reflectors, one can still get the speedring mounts for any soft of softbox arrangement. They are a commonly sold item on fleabay as well.
I have one of these units, and they work well. Its a challenge to find suitable capacitors to rehab them, but these units give a look that is hard to emulate with more modern studio flash equipment. The later AA series supplies allowed two different supplies to be chained together so that eight heads could be used...
PS--It is a good idea to invest in a Wein synch isolator for any of these old strobe systems. They shoot a lot of voltage through the shutter contacts...
something witty and profound needs to be inserted here...
Thanks for everyone's input. No summer estate in this family. We got this instead www.lotus30.com
Originally Posted by bjorke
It's been interesting hearing about the early days too!
Those crazy assistants.
Originally Posted by Richard Kelham
A buddy of mine had a (very green) assistant take the sync cord coming from his Minolta Flash Meter and seeing the connector on the end, plugged it straight into a wall outlet. Ouch!
-- If film is dead, then how come I can't buy a Leica for 20 bucks? --
Editorial & Commercial Photographer