Playing with flash and ND filter.

Inspired by Norm Dunk’s comments on off camera flash, I had a wee play.

Lessons learned.

1.The reason Norm never tried using flash and a 6-stop ND filter at the same time is because it’s a very silly idea. While it can definitely overpower 6 LED spotlights at about two metres, it pretty much scrubs the flash as well. Given enough flashpower though, it can certainly block all ambient light.

2.Using an Oly EM1 with a six stop ND has one huge advantage over any DSLR you ever heard of. It’s called “Live Time Mode” and lets you watch the image and the histogram as they build up, in real time, right through the filter. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Sir Arthur C Clarke.

The blue colour cast (and the soft focus) are likely because the sensor had no clue what it was looking at, thanks to the filter. The colour cast is easily fixed in Photoshop, but It’s evidently important not to let anything move when installing the filter.

3. Given the film comes free, like Norm said, it’s not hard to get a static image lit how you want it with an off camera speedlight.  Moving scenes are another story, I imagine.

In the gallery, image 1 is a straight shot, using ambient lighting.  Image 2 is a 160 second (ie 2 minutes 40 second) exposure with ambient light and a 6 stop ND, using liveview to choose when to stop.

Image 3 is also with the ND filter, using flash on full power, about 30cm from the subject. Given another six flashguns, this might work.

Image 4 uses default synch speed with flash , no filter. The flash is close enough to wash out any shadows from the ambient light.

Image 5 is using off camera flash , with no filter,  same shutter speed as 4 ,but a small aperture (f/22) to get the half-lit effect Norm called, “Having one eye in darkness, because I want it that way“.