Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/12/01

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Subject: Re: [Leica] SF20 flash and Ted Grant
From: "Ted Grant" <>
Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2001 19:20:41 -0800
References: <>

Ken Lassiter wrote:
>>> I admire you and respect you a lot.  You make wonderful pictures, much
> better than I can ever hope to do.  You are a master.  I must admit,
> though, I can't recall ever seeing a flash photo made by you.  Maybe you
> have.  Have you?<<<,

Thank you very much kind sir, I'm humbled by your comments.

And yes I have used flash many times and have completely blown things
because I didn't . My gung ho attitude about not having flash nor bothering
to carry one cost me dearly on an assignment for a government travel client.

And the only way I bailed myself out was..... I bought some new strobe flash
gear, had people teach me how to use it. Re-hire models, pay all the travel
costs, accommodation, meals and all other ancillary expenses and completely
re-shoot the five day assignment. My expense! :-( One might say it was one
hell of an expensive lesson on flash or lack of. :-(

>>> Like you, I have made 99% of my photos by available light -- without
> flash.  I owned a Vivitar but very seldom used it with any camera.  I
> resisted getting a SF20 for a long time.   I thought it looked like a
> toy.  How could such a little flash ever be useful?<<<

At onetime I used three Vivitar 283's one for each R camera, as I hated
changing the flash from one camera to the other as much as I hated changing
lenses. So there was a time and yes there are times now where flash is
essential to the success of the shoot, but I try my very best all the time
not to use it, unless it's absolutely necessary.  And the SF20?

>> I do find times I can make a better picture using the little SF20 flash
unit I now have available.   (Smith is reputed to have said, "Sure I use
> light: daylight, strobe, hot lights -- whatever is available!"<<<<<

True and he did say that! And I've done exactly the same thing many times by
turning on lights that weren't on, moving a table lamp to enhance the
hairline of a subject, sometimes putting a lamp behind a chair... Gene was
right, available light is whatever is available.

However, the most significant thing is......"understanding light and making
it work for you" and if one isn't intune with the quality of light, even
moving a lamp can make it look phony or worse, totally screw-up the "feeling
of the scene."

Yep and there are cracker jack shooters who use flash and light scenes that
one can not tell it was flash lit. Unfortunately I'm not one of them. But
give me any old light bulbs, lamps, or light on a miner's hard hat and I
usually can make it work and still look as real as it is supposed to be.

>>> I showed Tina Manley some of my photos and she ran out and bought a SF20
unit and used it sometimes on her last trip to Honduras.  Ask her if it
> is true.  I know you also admire and respect Tina.<<<<,

That's very true about my admiration for Tina as a photographer and a
person.  I might also say that Tina and I were to discuss the SF20 at the
Leica Seminar in October, unfortunately it never came to pass as there's
always things that get in the way.

Let me assure you, she has "laid the word on me" via e-mail of the value of
the SF20 and it's enhancing features when necessary, she certainly convinced
me I must purchase one. Now that I've stepped in to the proverbial glue on
this flash post I suppose I'll have to order one on Monday before the next
shoot. Or the next round of "what flash should I use?" posts! ;-)

>>But every photographer has times when a little more light or more control
over the light would make a better picture.  I certainly do.  Maybe

Absolutely without question! Me included.

Now a confession: I've just returned from photographing my son and his
family for their Christmas card, did I use flash? (snicker snicker),

OK, here's the setting:  The inner harbour of the city, just at sunset with
heavy overcast, more darkness than light. The Parliament Buildings, far side
of harbour lit for Christmas.  Object of the picture was family in
foreground with lit building in background.  So, please note..."flash light
the family" and still capture the lit buildings in background.

So I put the metz flash on the R8, set manual exposure for background and
let the flash automatically look after lighting the kids.  Shot a half dozen
frames and film is now in the lab waiting to be picked up in the morning.
Yep and I'll let you know if it worked. I'd ask all you folks do one or the
other or both on my behalf, ... say a prayer and or keep your fingers
crossed! :-)  or both! thanks.;-)

So you folks see I'm not as hard assed about not using flash as I might
appear, I just think many of you and others who use leica might think about
going "au natural light" on many occasions and save the flash for wild and
wooly things. ;-)

Ted Grant Photography Limited

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