This is my blog about my interests in photography and film-making, also my travels as well as other items that I feel may be of interest. I also run the Photography equipment website, Filmcam....................................... IF YOU WANT TO ENLARGE ANY IMAGE BELOW SIMPLY CLICK ON IT !

Monday, August 9, 2010

Post-flashing Your Image

Let me say straightaway... Post-flashing is just not feasible with Super-8 in cartridges. This is because their design does not permit backwinding more than a few frames at a time. However, most other films can be easily treated... Double Super-8, Single-8, Standard-8, 9.5mm, 16mm, and 35mm in both movie and still versions. 120 roll-film is not really suitable, although 5x4 cut-film is. Nearly all types of emulsion can be flashed, and even the not so contrasty colour-negative could benefit on occasions.

I am sure there are many different ways of flashing. This is the one I use. It may seem a bit hit-and-miss, but it has always worked for me. Here goes !

First I select a nice sunny day. This is perhaps the most difficult part of the exercise, here in Britain. We just need a few minutes of absolutely clear unbroken sunshine. I prefer the sun instead of artificial light, simply because it's not prone to sudden power-cuts or lamp failure which could ruin your precious footage. And dull or cloudy/bright conditions have a habit of changing their exposure alarmingly... our eyes don't always notice it.

OK. The exposed film has been backwound either in a darkroom or the camera (a lens cap might be handy !) With 35mm film the first frame must exactly synchronise for the second pass, otherwise you'll get a dark bar in the picture. So before you start, you must mark the frame in the gate. Still-35mm film has 8 perforations per frame and cine has 3 or 4... lots of possibilities for error here. All other cine-film sizes have only one perf per frame, therefore no danger of mis-framing.

The camera is set up near a window. In the SHADE, I very securely fix a sheet of matt black card. The camera is angled a bit so that no sheen on the card is visible in the viewfinder. Only a small portion is filmed in close-up so it should look evenly lit. The lens is now defocused to infinity giving just a blurred void. Now I take a meter-reading off a GREY card, then open up an extra half-stop to one and a quarter stops according to the dose intended. Now start filming the BLACK card, with one eye on that next cloud approaching !

Using this method with different coloured cards, it's possible to get some interesting tone effects. Sometimes I may do a bit of fading of the flash within the shot if I remembered to note the frame-number reading. (Footage counters are notoriously inaccurate.) And if I'm flashing odd bits of footage, I usually allow a bit more at both ends, perhaps fading the flash in and out, using the iris of the lens.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Art of Flashing

I, like many others, use colour-reversal transparency film for still and movie photography. It looks great when projected which is, after all, what it's designed for. But when printed onto another film or indeed digitised, it can look far too contrasty. Bright areas show no detail and eyes disappear into their sockets. How can we deal with this ?

One way is to avoid shooting in bright sunlight. In hazy or cloudy conditions the shadows are far less intense and the film can cope with the reduced contrast. Otherwise try to lighten up people's faces with a reflector or extra lighting. Another solution is to flash the film emulsion.

There are different ways to flash film. Perhaps the ideal way is to do it while shooting, so you'll see the effect in the viewfinder. There are various filters that can help to reduce contrast. More effective is a gadget in front of the lens that flashes some light into the image. I believe Arri used to make one. But it should be possible with some DIY to construct a battery-powered unit that reflects a certain amount of light into the lens via a 50/50 mirror. The colour could be varied with filters to give whatever tone you desire. One or two super-8 movie cameras have a superimposition facility, like the little Elmo 103T you see here. A small mirror reflects a secondary image into the gate. Perhaps use this opening to superimpose some light for flashing.

Like all experimental stuff, it can take a few tries to get the correct exposure, but once you know this, things should work every time. The trick is to just open up enough detail in the dark areas of the image without creating a foggy effect (unless this is your intention). One by-product with Flashing is that it effectively increases the sensitivity of the film. Objects that would be normally invisible in those shadows can appear on the film, so it may also benefit filming for normal projection. It's a bit like using a faster film, except the bright areas don't get affected. Next time we'll look at ways to flash the film AFTER shooting....