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).
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.
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:
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.
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.
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).
If shooting indoors in a room with a white ceiling, think about using flash with one of these attached:
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.
Obviously I don't either, lol. I've only had it a few months, and have only run two rolls through it so far.
Originally Posted by polyglot
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:
Originally Posted by MattKing
Thanks everyone for the advice.
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.
"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.
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.
Originally Posted by Jim Noel
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!