How to do flash like Shelby Lee Adams? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Flash photography is a dark science to me but I would like to know if anyone has a good idea of how Shelby Lee Adams uses his flash equipment for his portraits, as seen in his two books, _Appalachian Portraits_ and _Appalachian Legacy_. Especially the photographs taken outside, either in the open or in heavily shaded situations such as porches. Thanks.

-- Burke Griggs (, July 18, 2001


As i recall from the "View Camera" interview a few or several issues back he uses Comet PMT 1200 units. This is a 1200 w/s (at full power, but it is adjustable) battery powered unit. Similar to the Hensel Porty, Broncolor Mobil, or the hideously overpriced Profoto 7b units. Without further elaboration I'll bet he sometimes uses them with umbrellas and sometiimes without. the heads on all of these units is small enoughto be hand held so maybe he does that as well. He seems very careful to avoid the overflashed look where the strobe is brighter than then the ambient light level at a given f-stop. Let's say he needs to be at f/22, My impression is that he'll then pick a shutter speed necessary to record the ambient light for a normal brightness level and then dials the flash power up or down so it is compatable with that f-stop for the look he wants to create in that image. Polaroid helps.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, July 18, 2001.

Shelby Lee Adams is a genius. He's one of my two favorite LF photographers (the other being Sally Mann).

In the May/June 2001 issue of "Photovision, art & Technique" there is an article on him. While it doesn't give and specifics (no f stops, strobe power levels or type of equipment) it does give some setup information on some of the photos in the article that you might find useful. If you can't find the magazine still on the news stand, let me know and I can photo copy the article for you. I do suggest buying it so you can better reference the photos. As they are more recent than either of his books.

-- Josh Root (, July 19, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ