The Big Free Light – Part Two

DSCF2255AI left you hanging with the last posting – at a dance show with the camera turned up to the maximum useable ISO and needing more light on the subject. The TTL speed light was working, but not all that well.

Fortunately I have a background of wedding photography with a big film camera – and weddings also needed light. I invested in Metz 45-series hammerhead flashes in the 1970’s and never regretted it. The 45CT-1 went pop for decades at weddings. I soon tired of trying to extract enough electricity from standard AA cells and invested in a Quantum external battery pack. It was a lot more power a lot faster. I acquired more Metz 45 guns from secondhand markets and eventually had a complete duplicate battery and flash setup.

Then I promptly forgot it with the change to digital. Put it away as the lure of TTL made me get small units.

Well, Hello Christmas – I have now dug out the 45 CL-1 flashes and batteries – had a new cell put in one of them – and attached quick release brackets to them so that they can integrate with the Fujifilm camera bodies. It has been a revelation in the dance show.

This last weekend saw a perfect opportunity to do something that is normally not possible – bounce flash. Direct flash can indeed stop dancers, as can leg cramps, and the edge of the stage, but all of these are harsh. Have a look at what it does to the front line at the WAMED Bazaar Show – while leaving the back line in gloom.

The hall has a white ceiling, and not too high up. I was able to tilt the head of the 45 CL-1 up at about 60º and then tape a white business card at the edge to act as a small kicker light. The results are not perfect, but a lot better for a one-light setup. I discovered the exhaustion limit of the Quantum batteries – 230 shots on half power with the inbuilt thyristor quenching the tube. I suspect I could have done it on 1/4 power if the direct blast of the flash was used but the bounce was so much kinder to the dancers. Their costumes are brilliant as it is.

Note that the best big free light is still the sun, but you have to do what it wants – not the other way around.

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