Shooting on film in a studio (experiment)

Daily wanderings

I’ve wanted to try shooting my medium format Lubitel 166b camera in a studio environment for a long time now. Well… I finally did it, but it wasn’t as straight forward as you might think.


Firstly welcome back to my blog. I know it has been a while since the last update and I don’t really have an excuse. I guess I just needed some time to adjust to the new work schedule. I’ll try to post bi-weekly from now on so stay tuned for a lot more.

Film photography studio session

When you are shooting on an old film camera there are often some obstacles you have to overcome. This can stimulate your creativity and so I usually quite enjoy it, Normally in a studio environment you have a couple different ways of lightning the subject. Mostly they fall in two categories:

  • Continuous lightning
    • as the name suggests they are always on lights
    • great for beginners as you can see the light on your subject
    • often used with video productions
    • they don’t require a special trigger or a remote since they are always on
  • Strobes / Speed lights
    • They provide a short and powerful burst of light
    • They don’t heat up and they aren’t blinding for our subject
    • They require a remote or some different kind of a trigger

I wanted to learn more about flash photography and so I wanted to shoot with strobes. The problem was, that these old cameras don’t have a hotshoe for a special radio trigger that would signal to the strobes when to fire. Instead people tended to use sync cables to connect their camera with the lights. I don’t own one of those so this also wasn’t an option for me.

This got me thinking a little. Could I use the quick flash of the strobe as my shutter? Let me explain a bit. When you photograph a subject the shutter speed refers to the amount of time the film/sensor is exposed to light. So let’s say I open the shutter in complete darkness. Theoretically I would get a black image with no information. Now let’s say I would introduce a powerful light into the scene but only for a very quick burst. In theory that should be the same as opening up the shutter for a very short time….

Having no idea if this would work I closed the window shutters, making it as dark as possible. I set my camera on a tripod and composed the shot. When I was ready I opened up the shutter on a bulb mode and triggered the strobe with a remote. I repeated the shot a couple of times at a lower and a higher exposure wanting to give it the best chance of working. As I developed the images that evening I was really nervous however once I saw the images on the film-strip I was really happy and proud of myself as weird as that may sound. My thinking was correct.




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