Interesting shoot with Holga/Brownie in 1930's theater

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by Cinka, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. Cinka

    Cinka TPF Noob!

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    So I may have stuck my foot into it this time. I'm shooting a pair of musicians in a circa 1930's theater. They've asked me to use my Brownie and Holga.

    Theaters are dark - even with the lights on; which means I should also bring external lighting. Except, now that I think about it, I've never used external lights with a film camera.

    I have two strobes: Alien Bees B800 and a 580EXii. I also have various cheapo flood lights from Home Depot.

    Help? Any thoughts on how I should light this shoot? I'm guessing they want mysterious lighting, but the Holga shoots 1/100 @ *F13 and the Brownie shoots 1/125 @ F11. The Alien Bees is 15O watt max on the modeling lamp - I'm pretty sure I can't use strobes on this shoot. No way to connect the sync cords. I should also note, that Holga and Brownie are best suited for outdoor sunny shooting. This shoot now makes no sense.

    Yikes. :shock:

    *Some guy took his apart and measured the aperture: Photon Detector: Articles: The facts about Holga apertures
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2010
  2. EricHarris

    EricHarris TPF Noob!

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    I dont know too much about shooting with the Holga, though ive heard much about them since a few of my friends are Holda and Dianna enthusiasts. I would try with an SLR first so you can get measuring down. If you are familiar with the night setting on a point and shoot, it flashes freezing your subject, but leaves the shutter open for a few moments following allowing background lighting to appear through. I would try a similar method to this.

    Use those flood lights for ambient background lighting, maybe from the backstage or lighting up the curtains in the background. Release your shutter, then "test fire" your modeling strobe. Right after you fire off your strobe, close your shutter. This should allow about 1 second or so ambient lighting, 1/200th of a strobe (assuming thats what it will fire at, but just an example number).

    This is where using a dSLR will come in handy. Not to achieve instant results, but as a quick and easy proof.

    Granted, im a digital photographer. I dont know too much about film photography yet. I unfortunately skipped my roots and jumped into the digital world. I do plan on picking up a holga to mess around with soon though!
     
  3. Cinka

    Cinka TPF Noob!

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    Eric, I'm not really nervous about shooting with digital. I can shoot low lighting and connect all my strobes, it's just I'm not sure the Holga or Brownie will pick up the lighting and I'll end up with all black images. I don't have flashes for either one. I'm thinking I need to use external lighting, but how to get enough for the Holga and Brownie.

    ...but that's a good idea...using the digital to proof the lighting.
     
  4. EricHarris

    EricHarris TPF Noob!

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    Yes exactly. If it works out with your digital, it should work out with your holga, in theory. You just need to make sure your digital can match that of the holga. If you have 200 speed film, make sure your digital ISO is at 200, apertures are the same, shutter speeds are the same. That should be enough to atleast give you the confidence to shoot it with the holga. Basically, im just saying set up with your dSLR, Shoot it. If it works, set your Holga to the same setting and do it again.

    Thats what my friend Jenni does. She shoots film with her Holga all the time, but before almost every planned shot, she shoots with her cannon. She has an entry level SLR, whatever the 500 dollar Cannon is. If shes satisfied, she mimics the settngs to her holga. I think she slightly over exposes though since her Holga has a tendency to underexpose if im not mistaken.
     
  5. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Uh...this sounds allot like the horse driving the cart, with musicians deciding what equipment a photographer ought to use. A couple of points to consider: do either the Brownie or the Holga have X-synch? Do either have any kind of flash synch? If the Brownie is a newer one, it might have M-synch, but without any external synchronization port,meaning if it's something like A Brownie Hawkeye, is has its own flash receptacle but no place to "plug in" any kind of external flash.

    Getting a toy camera to "pick up" or synchronize with a modern, short-duration electronic flash like that from an Alien Bee would probably be difficult for a number of technical reasons, like the duration difference between a slow, long-burning 1950's era flashbulb, and a modern, fast-burning electronic flash pop. If you do decide to go this route and fulfill the musicians' wishes, you'll probably have to either bring in several thousand watts worth of continuous lighting, or shoot flash with the shutter set to its Bulb setting, and using your own reflexes to manually Pop! one flash while the shutter is held open over a long period of time in a somewhat dark-ish environment.

    UNLESS you have a Brownie Hawkeye and some flashbulbs for it, in which case, you could use the Hawkeye's built in flash and its eye-burning, slow-burning old bulbs! Remember--blue flashbulbs for color film, clear flashbulbs are fine for B&W film.
     
  6. bhop

    bhop No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have a Holga and a Brownie.. both only give me good results in perfect bright sunny daylight...without a flash anyway.

    The regular Holga has a hot shoe.. can't you just connect a wireless trigger. Maybe shoot a test roll before the actual shoot to see if it works? (I don't know a lot about non-ttl strobes)
     
  7. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    So I guess they think they're going to get a retro look from using an old camera, but that's not really so.

    The use of flashbulbs instead of a strobe would do far more to achieve retro looking indoor photography.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I think that's the assumption--that an "old camera" like a Brownie will somehow produce 1930's-like photographic results. I am not sure that the use of an on-camera flash paired with a single-element meniscus lens (or maybe a two-element lens!) shot on film will produce the 1930's vintage feel that the musicians are thinking they will get...

    MOST ALL of the famous 1930's era publicity photography was done using 4x5 or 5x7 cameras with good-quality lenses and capable and VERY bright lighting; on-site photyos wwre often shot with flash guns with 5 inch diameter or larger reflectors; if the musicians wanted you to use a 4x5 Crown Graphic or a Linhof Technica or some other 4x5 sheet film camera with a good rangefinder and sheet film, I think they might get the kind of old-time photos they might be envisioning.

    When I was a kid in the early 1980's, I used to work in a 1939-built movie theatre, and also went to a lot of movies at a very old theatre built in 1927--a grand old, opera-house style building with ornate arches and vaulted lobby and a huge balcony. It was in a word, dark. It became a movie theatre in the 1930's after vaudeville died out.

    Do you know the shutter speed and lens aperture of the Holga? How will you determine the correct exposure with either the Holga or the Brownie?
     
  9. Cinka

    Cinka TPF Noob!

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    Derrel, I'm not particularly going for a 1930's look, but the theater was built in the 30's. The Holga gets about 1/100 @ F13 and that's about it without modification. Also, I don't see why the client can't make a request about what type of camera to use - the toy cameras give really interesting results that can't exactly be duplicated in Photoshop. I wouldn't begin to know how to sync the Holga to the Alien Bees. Is that even possible? I don't think it has a hotshoe or any kind of ports.

    Everyone: I take it back, the Holga does have a flash. The Brownie does not.
     
  10. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Well, you need to go back to the old-timey days and hook the Holga up to your flash synchrionization system--whatever it might happen to be--and shoot a few shots with the back removed, and look through the film gate area with the back of the camera removed and make sure that the flash is synchronizing with the shutter. If you point the camera at a blank wall illuminated by your flash unit(s), when you snap a shot with the Holga, you will want to see one,single ROUNDED aperture, lighted fully with light when the flash goes off. Chances are good that if the camera has a hot shoe, that it will sync up properly,provided the Holga is in working order,and with the plastic cameras, that is not always a "given",so it pays to use the time-honored method of checking that the shutter and flash are actually in-sync with one another.

    This is a simple,easy to do check of the flash synchronization,that takes less than one minute. F/13 with Alien Bees ought to be okay with 400 ISO film in the Holga. You can use a digital camera to sort of preview the correct exposure in each light setup, with the lens aperture and ISO set to the appropriate ones for the individual setups.
     
  11. Proteus617

    Proteus617 TPF Noob!

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    Hope I'm not too late to the thread, but what Brownie? The sync and potato masher on the Hawkeye Flash can be modded to work with a modern unit. Here's Rick Oleson's instructions for modding a potato masher. You would then have to open up the Brownie and bend the sync contact until you see a nice round aperture through the back of the camera. Also, I've seen cool stuff done with extreme pushes. Maybe try Delta 3200 w/ available light + careful metering and push the hell out of it? I've also shot 3200 then developed in plain old soup that really enhanced the grain. Maybe a modern 35mm w/ 3200 and standard developer would give you a grainy old-time look that your clients expect out of a classic camera.
     

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