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Post your flashbulb photos!
Old 02-01-2014   #1
NY_Dan
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Post your flashbulb photos!

Anyone else shooting with vintage flashbulbs? Rolleiflex with Sylvania 25 Press Bulb



Here's a flashbulb photo I shot of Charlie Todd, from Improv Everywhere and founder of the annual No Pants Day event on 1/12/2014 in NYC. Flashbulbs are fun to use, their output is accurate to predict, and the quality of light is unique. Blurb book with flashbulb photos.

Guide number (GN) over distance to subject = f/stop So, GN 110 / 10ft = f/11 (GN for specific film speed, bulb, and reflector)
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Old 02-01-2014   #2
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AG-1:



Instamatic with AG-1:

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Old 02-01-2014   #3
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I would have a hard time identifying any of my flashbulb shots right now, since I haven't taken any for some time. But you are right; they are easy to use, and provide a light quite different from electronic flash.
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Old 02-01-2014   #4
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Actually yes. Polarid Big Shot with Magicubes:


Marcel - Polaroid Big Shot by Ronald_H, on Flickr
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Old 02-01-2014   #5
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I hope to have some soon. I've been wanting to shoot my Crown Graphic with bulbs since I got it, but have just not tackled it yet. There is a swing dance coming up for Valentine's Day that I'd like to take it to, but there's an awful lot to sort out before then.
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Old 02-01-2014   #6
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Speaking of shooting flashbulbs with a Crown Graphic. Here's a photo I shot of Louis Mendes on 1/1/2014 in Coney Island with my Kodak Instamatic and flashcube.

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Old 02-02-2014   #7
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Thanks for that very cool picture. And thanks for the link, I wasn't familiar with Mendes, though I seem to recall the name from sometime in the past.

I see a little cheating going on (Louis, not you). I suppose that is the only practical solution in the long run, and it has crossed my mind. I think I have the same strobe in a closet somewhere.

Still, I'd really like to try bulbs. I've only ever used them for snapshooting, way back in time. My camera is a sidemount rangefinder model (Pacemaker I think) and still has the solenoid sync, so I need to adjust that. And more than half of the bulbs I have right now are focal plane type. I assume they should work fine at the same sync, just have lower output since the peak is longer and probably be cut off a bit my my leaf shutter.

I have an old Navy training manual that goes into detail about all that, so hope to have it figured out today. I also have a call in to a friend that I gave a couple packing boxes of bulbs years ago. I assume they are still in his barn. None of the bigger press type bulbs I need, but hopefully something that will can be made to work for initial testing.
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Minolta Electroflash III on SRT-101.
Old 02-03-2014   #8
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Minolta Electroflash III on SRT-101.

Several years ago I got interested in using flashbulbs again. Bought several original SRT flashguns (the Minolta Electroflash III) and AG1, M3, M3B, and 5/5B/25/25B bulbs. Have had alot of fun with this stuff (it still works!).

Recently I found some #6B focal plane bulbs, still need to try some of these out. I also agree the light you get from these is unique.
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Old 02-03-2014   #9
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Quote:
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...

Still, I'd really like to try bulbs. I've only ever used them for snapshooting, way back in time. ...

I have an old Navy training manual that goes into detail about all that, so hope to have it figured out today...
No doubt you have the old PH 3&2 Manual? I don't know when it was last revised, but there is a LOT of good info there about the old press cameras and film development. I have no idea what ever happened to mine.

I am kind of shocked that folks are still intentionally using flash bulbs! I remember having to use them before electronic flash was affordable. I still recall the joy I felt with my first electronic flash... NO MORE BULBS!!! I felt like I was in the big time, even though my flash probably could have been eclipsed by an AG1. I still have that electronic flash though. <grin>

They do have a unique signature in photos. For years and years, photographers have tried to get away from the harsh, one-dimensional flat light, and it's interesting to see a revival of the genre. Keep up the good work, all of you! I enjoy seeing what and how you're shooting. I'll enjoy it vicariously though... and I'll keep shooting my Sunpak 544s.
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Old 02-03-2014   #10
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For me it is just that an older friend (he will be 96 in May) gave me his brother's old Crown Graphic outfit. It looks like new and has the light saber flash with 7" reflector in beautiful shape. Seems like a shame not to give it a try, and an upcoming swing dance in town seems like a good opportunity.

I don't like most flash work I've seen, either bulb or electronic flash, but there were a few folks who made really beautiful pictures with the old Graphics and bulb. Weegee, Teenie Harris, and a few by Luke Swank come to mind. Both night or indoor shots, and daylight fill. I imagine you could get that look with strobe, but I have not seen it done. I think it must be at least in part reflector size, quality of the reflector, and the power of bulbs allowing for those reflectors. The closest I've seen was the old Graflex Stroboflash IV, then the later series with slight smaller, but still large, reflectors. I don't know how much of an impact flash duration has on this look (beyond effective exposure time), but it seems to matter. Certainly most automatic electronic flash gets well into reciprocity failure territory as it cuts power.

Oh yeah, my manual is the Photographer's Mate 3 from 1961. I gave an older one to a friend and it would probably be even better for this info.
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Old 02-10-2014   #11
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Santa stopped by today:


Flash Bulbs by Yew Piney, on Flickr
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Old 02-10-2014   #12
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Mark, nice score on those #5 bulbs. They put out the same amount of light more or less as the #25 bulbs and are smaller -- so you can carry more with you. Wipe em off with a slightly damp paper towel and lightly sand the ends with an emory board. The #11's are scary powerful. Coincidentally Santa visited me today too with a similar package -- #25's
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Old 02-10-2014   #13
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Thanks Dan. The amount of bulb shooting you've done is amazing. You're shooting with a Rollei? Do you mostly use the #25's with it? I apparently have a mess of M3 bulbs stored in a friend's barn, plus a small number or more interesting bulbs there. The weather has prevented picking those up yet. I thought the M3's might be useful with a Rollei, though I still need to get a flash unit for mine.

I called another friend in hopes he had the M bulb to bayonet adapter so that I could at least experiment with them on the Crown Graphic. As you can see in the picture, he came through with adapters, plus a 5" reflector for my Graflite, which should help with the little bulbs. He said he'd throw in a few bulbs too, so I was pleasantly surprised at how many.

I've yet to fire a bulb, but just went to pick up some fresh D cells for my flash. I need to adjust the solenoid on the camera, then plan to test it tonight with the little bulbs you can see in the picture. So far I've just been shooting with a Sunpak while trying to get used to the Graphic.
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Old 02-10-2014   #14
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Handheld 4x5 Speed Graphic, #5 flashbulb, Kalart Speed Flash+Synchronizer, Optar 135mm lens, Fomapan 400. Scan fron an 8x10 print. Text (and dust!) added via transparency overlay while printing.

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Old 02-11-2014   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark C View Post
Thanks Dan. The amount of bulb shooting you've done is amazing. You're shooting with a Rollei? Do you mostly use the #25's with it? I apparently have a mess of M3 bulbs stored in a friend's barn, plus a small number or more interesting bulbs there. The weather has prevented picking those up yet. I thought the M3's might be useful with a Rollei, though I still need to get a flash unit for mine.

I called another friend in hopes he had the M bulb to bayonet adapter so that I could at least experiment with them on the Crown Graphic. As you can see in the picture, he came through with adapters, plus a 5" reflector for my Graflite, which should help with the little bulbs. He said he'd throw in a few bulbs too, so I was pleasantly surprised at how many.

I've yet to fire a bulb, but just went to pick up some fresh D cells for my flash. I need to adjust the solenoid on the camera, then plan to test it tonight with the little bulbs you can see in the picture. So far I've just been shooting with a Sunpak while trying to get used to the Graphic.
Hi Mark,

Yeah, I'm flashbulb obsessed, to put it mildly. I even like the smell of them after they're fired. I use them as hand warmers during the winter -- bs. I use mostly 25's, but also carry an adapter and 2 doz M2 bulbs -- they're for when I'm closer than 10 feet from subject. The M3's -- I think they're a little less powerful than the M2's. The small bulbs are also good for catch lights in the eyes, or some fill. Using Rolleiflexes. I also have a Crown Graphic.

Here are 2 photos from last week:



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Old 02-11-2014   #16
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More fun with flashbulbs x 2 from 2/4/2014:



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Old 02-11-2014   #17
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Hi Mark,

Yeah, I'm flashbulb obsessed, to put it mildly. I even like the smell of them after they're fired. I use them as hand warmers during the winter -- bs. I use mostly 25's, but also carry an adapter and 2 doz M2 bulbs -- they're for when I'm closer than 10 feet from subject. The M3's -- I think they're a little less powerful than the M2's. The small bulbs are also good for catch lights in the eyes, or some fill. Using Rolleiflexes. I also have a Crown Graphic.
Thanks. I was hoping the M3's would be more useful on the Rollei. It seems like the Graphic really wants to be stopped down to at least f8, and 11 might be even better. Rollei's can be pretty nice at 4 and 5.6, with at least useable depth of field.

What sort of rig are you using with the Rollei? Any pics of that/? What sort of exposures are you getting?

I'll be shooting at a dance this weekend with the Crown Graphic. Indoor and maybe one or two outside. I'm actually fascinated with the look some of the old timers got with the Graphics using bulbs in daylight and intend to explore that. There I'll definitely need the more powerful bulbs.

Do you get any complaints about the blast of light?
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Old 02-11-2014   #18
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Quote:
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Thanks. I was hoping the M3's would be more useful on the Rollei. It seems like the Graphic really wants to be stopped down to at least f8, and 11 might be even better. Rollei's can be pretty nice at 4 and 5.6, with at least useable depth of field.

What sort of rig are you using with the Rollei? Any pics of that/? What sort of exposures are you getting?

I'll be shooting at a dance this weekend with the Crown Graphic. Indoor and maybe one or two outside. I'm actually fascinated with the look some of the old timers got with the Graphics using bulbs in daylight and intend to explore that. There I'll definitely need the more powerful bulbs.

Do you get any complaints about the blast of light?
One has to develop a different mindset and approach for flashbulb photography -- much the same way you think differently with a different focal length or camera. Often when I'm shooting with flashbulbs, it's dark, harder to focus, and if I want to respond quickly, then I don't have time to focus. With my Rolleiflex, my depth of field is very limited. However, at f/11 - 16 set at 10 feet, I'm good from 8 to 12 feet roughly. Most of my shots take place at this distance.

The less powerful bulbs are not useless -- just use them for when you're closer -- then you're still at f/11-16 but perhaps at 5 feet. Especially in more confined areas, they're great to have. And of course if you shoot 35mm you can shoot at a wider aperture and still zone focus.

Oh, and if I want to focus I use a prism finder -- but then I'm not getting the waist/chest height that I like with Rolleis.

For the dance at night, your number 5 bulbs should give you f/11 1/2 with 400 ISO -- I tend to overexpose. It will be a great help with exposures if you have a Polaroid back for your Graflex. In one of Weegee's books he mentions shooting at f/16 at 10 feet. Nighttime f/16 at 10 feet daytime f/16 10 feet -- how cool was it to shoot 4x5 almost like a point and shoot?

Complaints about bulb power. Yes. Don't photograph things like horse races or athletic events with flashbulbs. Because the flash has a much longer duration than electronic flashes it's much more disruptive. And you will regret it if you accidentally flash yourself from a short distance -- takes a few minutes to get over that. So what to do? Outside where subject's pupils are small is much less of an issue. If people are looking away it's not bad. If you tell people the flash will be bright it can help or hinder. Most important -- if you're closer than 10 feet or so, especially with larger bulbs, or bulbs from a batch you haven't shot with, employ a plastic shield over the bulb -- these connect to reflector.

Also, with things like a dance, having flashbulbs going off can make the event more special. After a few shots people will get used to it. Sorry if I'm random -- one good thing about zone focus with flashbulbs is that if you have one hand to trip the shutter, you can often hand hold the flash unit -- this lets you aim it, feather it, find a sweet spot, etc. And with adjustable reflectors you can set a wide or concentrated pattern -- when determining guide number this is an important factor.

By the way, all bulbs have a safety coating - visually inspect to make sure the coating hasn't started to peel off. I think photography methods that are more challenging and have more variables are more satisfying. If in that very very brief moment of making the shot, you can also aim the light, and see the flash go off and have it "burn" the image for review in your mind -- that's farfegnugen!

When I took this shot of Josh Todd of Buckcherry, a lady next to me commented -- I saw the flash -- you got it at the perfect moment.

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Old 02-15-2014   #19
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I'm finally getting things sorted out for shooting bulbs with my Crown Graphic. The bag of bulbs I got is a mixed lot, so I've been sorting and testing. I picked up a "newer" 2 cell Graflite which I hope to use with my Rollei, and I guess a bit with Leica or Nikon since I found a few focal plane bulb #6 bulbs mixed in with the #5's.

Jean at the little store she runs. Virtually no business any more, but I don't think she knows what else to do with herself so still goes in every day:


Jean #1 by Yew Piney, on Flickr

Pacemaker Crown Graphic, 127 Ektar, #5 bulb of some sort (unmarked), HP5 Aero film cut from a 9 1/2" roll. GAF Permadol developer. How's that for obsolete and obscure specs.
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Old 02-16-2014   #20
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Quote:
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I'm finally getting things sorted out for shooting bulbs with my Crown Graphic. The bag of bulbs I got is a mixed lot, so I've been sorting and testing. I picked up a "newer" 2 cell Graflite which I hope to use with my Rollei, and I guess a bit with Leica or Nikon since I found a few focal plane bulb #6 bulbs mixed in with the #5's.

Jean at the little store she runs. Virtually no business any more, but I don't think she knows what else to do with herself so still goes in every day:
Jean #1 by Yew Piney, on Flickr

Pacemaker Crown Graphic, 127 Ektar, #5 bulb of some sort (unmarked), HP5 Aero film cut from a 9 1/2" roll. GAF Permadol developer. How's that for obsolete and obscure specs.
It took me a minute to figure out where I've seen this picture before. Hi Mark.
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Old 02-16-2014   #21
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Mark, I like your photo of Jean, and that she's bundled up inside. I sense there will be more flashbulb converts on RFF in the near future. My preference for what it's worth, is to take liberties with burning, dodging, brightness and contrast. My taste is to make her face and Jesus poster lighter, and the area around her progressively darker. Also you look to be about 10 feet away, so you now have a useful guide number for your bulb/film/developer combo.
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Old 02-16-2014   #22
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It took me a minute to figure out where I've seen this picture before. Hi Mark.
Funny. Disney was right; it is small world after all. I've been meaning to call you, but fell down this rabbit hole (with a Crown Graphic for ballast).

You haven't seen that exact shot (taken Friday), but Jean is my ever tolerant muse who puts up with every new camera and lens I show up with. It is becoming an interesting, if a bit depressing, project seeing the store fade away over the years.

I'm a diehard available light guy, and the biggest surprise so far is has been how the flash gives the appearance of an even harsher reality to the shots. I can't seem to find a way to express that well, but it is some of that clear-eyed look I've seen in the FSA Depression work, etc. That is part of what interested me to try this, but I am a little surprised at just how much influence the flash has. It's sort of like - "Here is this pile of information all clearly illuminated for your perusal".

I'll be curious to see how much this carries over to more upbeat subject matter. "Teenie" Harris has interested me in this way. He used similar equipment and techniques photographing the incredible jazz scene (and every other aspect of life) in Pittsburgh's Hill District in the 30's and on.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles...hotographer%29

It is interesting to get to see first hand just how much the media effect the message.
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Old 02-16-2014   #23
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Mark, I like your photo of Jean, and that she's bundled up inside. I sense there will be more flashbulb converts on RFF in the near future. My preference for what it's worth, is to take liberties with burning, dodging, brightness and contrast. My taste is to make her face and Jesus poster lighter, and the area around her progressively darker. Also you look to be about 10 feet away, so you now have a useful guide number for your bulb/film/developer combo.
Thanks. I appreciate all your help on this. I've been a photographer for quite a long time, and yet this flashbulb thing and the handheld 4x5 are completely new for me.

I'm am trying to live an Adobe free existence, with only partial success. Gimp has been extremely frustrating and disappointing to me so far, but I plan to persist for a while. I may add Aperture in soon. That picture just has a curve applied, with no local adjustment since I haven't gotten around to sort that stuff out in Gimp. I can bail out and go back to PS on an older computer (or OS), but that is a PIA.

Actually, I'm really still a darkroom guy, as Wells46 can attest. I am anxious to wet print these last couple negatives, but just haven't had time. For me that is the reference standard. I just don't know what I've actually gotten until I see a print.

Still, my preference for my photos is for a natural look and making skin look like skin; flash already pushes that pretty hard for me. I have really wanted to do some burning in all my flash shots but just haven't gotten there yet with Gimp. I tend to use curves and the History Brush for that in PS.

I'll post another shot here soon.
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Old 02-20-2014   #24
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Thanks! Yes kind of like O. Winston Link except he shot actual moving trains with enormous hard-wired lighting rigs and miles of wire to fire them. Very ambitious but well worth the effort.

Here the locomotive was parked for the weekend so I just walked along and fired one bulb at the nose of the engine and three along the side. Exposure was f5.6 and ISO 100 for about four minutes or so.
Ha! I was waiting all night to see if I guessed correctly. I guessed 3 minutes it was four -- not too bad. I guessed it was 400 ISO - it was 100 -- oh well -- I was trying to guess the ambient light and what was needed, and the streaks from traffic in the distance, and also an exposure that would give you enough time to fire the flashbulbs. One flash at the front and three for side -- Well I guessed 2 and 2 so that's 4, so I get partial credit

Yes, I read about O Winston Link's elaborate set-ups -- so cool. I have some of the more powerful bulbs and would love to photograph something large someday.

Here's a shot I did TMY 120 f/4 , 25 bulb, on 2/10/2013:
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Old 02-20-2014   #25
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When I was doing a lot of large format architectural photography, I built a flashbox, and used the big screw-base 50B's for lighting certain architectural interiors (and a few exteriors, as well).

Here is a youtube lesson by the late Architectural Photographer Julius Shulman, describing how he would do it. I studied his techniques. Ever seen that world famous picture of the house floating over a precipice in Los Angeles? Shot with flashbulbs. Much more light than electronic flash.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqV7qX6ZyR8

A short trailer about a Shulman documentary, and his most famous photograph, which I am describing:

http://www.juliusshulmanfilm.com/trailer-gallery/
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Old 02-21-2014   #26
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Funny. Disney was right; it is small world after all. I've been meaning to call you, but fell down this rabbit hole (with a Crown Graphic for ballast).
Mark, I was out of town for a few days. I'm back now. Give me a call when the Mad Hatter finally lats you go.
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Old 02-21-2014   #27
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So, no guesses on my mystery spot. Or maybe just no interest; I apologize if this was out of place. I did think you guys would get the link, I mean connection. Seems obvious to me now, but I remember that it certainly wasn't when we pulled in there.

Anyway, here's another shot of Jean with the Graphic and #5's. F16, flash bounced of the ceiling. I finally got into the darkroom last night, so this is scanned from a print.


Jean #2 by Yew Piney, on Flickr
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Old 02-21-2014   #28
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For what it's worth -- saw the Robert Capa color exhibit at ICP yesterday. Read the letters of his on display too. One funny part -- he's annoyed with a fellow photographer and cheapskate and says words to the effect of -- I hope he dies with his flashbulbs. Struck me as funny. My epitaph -- He died with his flashbulbs blazing.

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Old 02-21-2014   #29
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Here's a shot from the swing dance here last weekend.


Frameup by Yew Piney, on Flickr
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Old 02-24-2014   #30
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I was surprised and amused to see pictures in Sunday's local paper taken with a 4x5 press camera and flash bulbs, especially so since I took them.


Flashbulbs in the DP by Yew Piney, on Flickr

I'd emailed small scans to the dance club and had given them permission to use them, but really figured the college student there with a Sony digital camera would have everything they needed. She was shooting beside me when I took the upper picture, but the #5 bulb may have had the advantage over her pop up flash for that one :-)
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Old 02-24-2014   #31
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Nice! Looks like that Speed Graphic and bulbs are working for you
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Old 02-28-2014   #32
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Cool Mark -- the newspaper with these photos looks like it could be from the 1950's.
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Old 02-28-2014   #33
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I thought it was pretty funny. I don't think anybody at the paper even knows. I know one of their photographers pretty well and think he'll get a kick out of it next time I talk to him. The dance group organizer emailed and said that their college student's digital shots looked kind of muddy in black and white and that these had better contrast and composition.

We've got a Fasnacht celebration at a tiny Swiss community, Helvetia, West Virginia, this weekend. It seems crazy, but I'm thinking of taking the Graphic and bulbs instead of the Leica. So maybe some more pictures soon.

http://theintermountain.com/page/con...-Helvetia.html
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Old 02-22-2019   #34
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Old thread, but hey. M3 with an M-mount Voigtlander 15mm (version 2). Flash was a Tilt-A-Mite and an AG1 bulb, reflector stowed. Swiss truck driver a month ago (January 2019).
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Old 02-22-2019   #35
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Leica IIIf, small reflector with AG-1 bulb, around 1966:

Kodachrome 1960s-1970s by John Carter, on Flickr
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