Have you ever messed something up so bad you don’t want to post it? Well, this week I was very close. This post will be long on words and short on pictures; let me explain.
Early on in the project I used my Mamiya 645 Pro TL in the studio. At the time I only had non-shutter leaf lenses so I was challenged with using a flash shutter speed sync speed of 60, the cameras max. Things turned out OK but I wanted to be able to use a faster shutter speed. Hello eBay! I picked up a 150mm leaf shutter lens and the appropriate cable to auto cock it using an external grip. Were there instructions with the lens: no. Did I bother to seek any out: no. Did it get amazing, good or even OK results on the first try? I bet you know the answer.
My nephew needed some head shots for an acting audition. I setup the studio for a typical high key configuration. Four strobes, blow out the background, etc. I metered the light setup for an f8 @ 250 of a second, ISO 126. This matched the Kodak Porta film I was using. My Nikon D610 was set on manual with the correct settings and the Mamiya was ready to go.
All of the digital “prints” turned out usable and in between poses I shot a few frames with the Mamiya.
First mistake: not taking Polaroid reference pictures. This is somewhat understandable given the fact that the Fuji FC-100 pack film has jumped from $9,00 USD to $27,95 USD. I thought I had the exposure dialed in.
Second mistake: not fully understanding the interaction between the lens and the camera body. I read just enough to understand that the bodies shutter speed needs to be set to an 8th of a second and lens set to your flash sync. Check. The grip being used is connected to the lens so the lens does not need to be re-cocked between shots. Check. Set the lens to desired sync speed (e.g. 250th of a second). Check. All seems good so far, right? Wrong. Here are the two fatal mistakes: hand holding a beast with a grip, 150mm lens, Pocket Wizard, etc. attached. Yes, you can focus it, but you can’t hand hold it at 250th of a second @ 150mm; at least I can’t.
The second and maybe biggest mistake, which I didn’t realize until I pulled to camera to write this post was that I had the flash trigger plugged into the wrong port. Here is what I did: I put a Pocket Wizard into the hot-shoe of the camera. What I should have done: plugged a sync cable into the bottom of the lens. The result of my error was that every frame was very underexposed. In scanning the film I had to push it three stops in my scanning program and still increase in Lightroom. If I understand it correctly, instead of the flash being triggered by the 250th of a second lens, they were being triggered by the 8th of a second body. The light was damn near gone by the time the lens opened up.
The good news was that this was my “B roll”. I was able to give my nephew what he needed and I learned even more. OK, third times a charm, right?
Obligatory “bonus” capture even from a messed up session: