Fill Flash for Landscapes : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am thinking of getting an accessory fill flash for my Canon EOS 35 mm, and would like also to be able to use it on my field camera for a fill light in certain landscape situations, such as shooting, for instance, backlighted wildflowers in the foreground of a landscape. First, what features and attachments are required to be able to sync the flash up with large format lenses? Second, what features would be nice to have to make it easy and practical to use a fill flash for this purpose and to calculate exposures. For instance, assuming that I want the fill flash to illuminate foreground objects to approximately zone 4 (1 stop under medium gray), is this easy to control? What would make it easy to control?

-- Howard Slavitt (, July 12, 2000


Howard, I have done much the same thing with the Vivitar 283 flash. I really don't know if and how well a Canon dedicated flash would work. I mounted an old flash mount from a junker 35mm on the top of my LF and used it with a 283. You can set the 283 for closeups and dial in an ASA/ISO speed one or two speeds higher than the film you are using and it works pretty well for flash fill. I also taped a white card onto the flashhead and tilted it forward with the flash head tilted up. You could also make a diffuser to shoot through out of a white cloth. There isn't much to be done to adapt it to your lens. Just plug in the cord to the X sync of your shutter. Hope this helps.

-- Doug Paramore (, July 12, 2000.

A flash sync cord to plug into the X sync terminal of most of your lenses will take care of flash sync just fine. With longer exposures you don't even need that, just trigger the flash while the shutter is open. As for figuring out the flash, check the guide number & use that for your guide as you shoot.

-- Dan Smith (, July 12, 2000.

Just make sure it is X, my post isn't -- took me a couple of months to figure it out. If your stuff ain't ancient you'll be fine.


-- Dean Lastoria (, July 12, 2000.

Get a powerfull flash. With the small apertures usually used in landscape, you'll need a lot of light. The few times I tried this, I was operating at my SB-25's max power, and wished I had more. Because of that circumstance, I didn't find I needed fine flash control. If I was in situations where based on GN calculations I thought the flash might over-fill, I'd use the flash in manual mode, setting its power output using a flash meter. Some people might think this is heresy, bu for exposures which are long enough for you to sync by hand, you could set up your Canon identically to your view camera, fire it, and let the TTL metering system control the flash.

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (, July 13, 2000.

Howard, I haven't used my flash for flowers immediately in front of the camera, but to highlight something 2-3 meters from the camera. I've used a flash with a GN of about 30-40 (in meters, or 100-120 in feet, depending on the flash de jour), and found that I needed to pop the flash 3-4 times for each area that I was exposing. I wanted the flashed area to be about 1 stop underexposed, just as you did. So it does take a bit of patience. I've also used a headlamp, but with less success.

Genereally, I've found the little sliding exposure-distance scales on the back to be of adequate accuracy to obtain the desired results. Just remember that most of these are calibrated for indoor usage. I expose as recommended by the flash, and end up one stop under. I would not recommend purchase of a flash meter for this work, unless the amount of light needs to be very accurately determined.

In my landscape photography, a reflector is more useful than a flash for fill (note that I think of fill applying when then are shadows, which would mean that the flowers are in direct light). I now carry a 36" collapsible model with silver on one side and gold on the other. The results are easier to predict, it doesn't weigh as much, and it's a faster operation.

Best wishes, Bruce

-- Bruce M. Herman (, July 14, 2000.

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