Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday, July 9th

Good morning all. I spent the better half of the morning working on this and other shots for the contest that I talked about yesterday. I was then browsing everyone's submissions, and I realized that I was in trouble. Check them out HERE, but be warned that you'll suddenly feel very, very hungry. The beauty of my shot though is my setup. I shot this entire thing with about $50 worth of gear(minus the actual camera)that includes the flash! I have a small "light box" made out of PVC pipe that I made myself with a large sheet of construction paper as the background. Have a look:


You can see the stand behind holding the vivitar flash(I plan on talking about that in a few minutes), the 5in1 reflector with the outside removed so that it is just a diffuser panel, and the piece of aluminum foil in front. The food was lit from slightly behind and on top(best way to light food) through the diffuser(white panel on top), and the front shadows were filled in slightly with a small piece of aluminum foil on the front. Nothing to it. The best part... We ate the prop! :~)


This little beauty is a Vivitar 283. It was at one time the workhorse of every photojournalist... back in the late 70's early 80's. Because it was so popular, there are a ton of them out there. They can be had for as little as $20(which is what I paid for this one). What makes it ideal for someone like me though is the addition of the small dial on the front. You can see it in the picture. That is the variable power dial(which was sold separately so look for it if you buy one). This lets you set the power manually from Full, all the way down to 1/32. That is a lot of adjustment. Since this is an older flash you can't use it on the newer digital cameras without an adapter, but who cares? We have our new fancy flashes that do TTL metering and power adjustment on the fly to attach to the top of your camera. This flash is for just what I use it for, off camera Strobist style lighting. Notice that I have a pocket wizard attached to it to trigger it:


You don't have to do that. You can run a cable to it for triggering, but I happen to have the pocket wizards, so that's what I use. This flash comes with a specific cable to trigger it off camera. The cable has a special end on it that is specific to Vivitar, and if lost they cost around $20 to replace. $20! That's all I paid for the flash. Nope, not me. You all know how I am by now, I took it apart and made my own. Here's how:

The first thing you have to do is determine if you are capable of soldiering. If not, find someone who is. If you don't know anyone, you know me... I can do it. The bottom of the flash(called the foot), is held on with two screws. Remove them. When you do this is what you'll see:


The red wire is the triggering wire, or the "hot" wire. Remember that. The blue is the ground. Next you need to procure(buy, barrow, steal) a headphone cord. I happen to have one laying around:


Now cut one of the tips of the cord off. Doesn't matter which one, just cut one. Strip back the outer insulation, and then separate the inner wires. Now if you have a wire from a pair of headphones there will be three wires. If you have a "mono" cable there will be only two. On the three wire headphone types the red is your tip or "hot". The black is the first ground in, and the silver uninsulated is the third ground. You won't need the black. Now on my flash I didn't care about keeping the function of the foot, so I just cut the wires off of it. If you want to retain use of the foot, just tap into them. Now you hook the red of the flash to the red of the headphone cable, and the blue of the flash to the silver uninsulated wire. Solider them together. Tape them off and you're done.


Now you can trigger this flash off camera. easy as pie.


That's it. That's all there is. Now you can set yourself up an external flash and bring light from a different direction for your portraits. If you want you can get a couple of these things and setup a mini studio in your house to do portraits and such.

That's all I've got today. Hope you all enjoyed looking at my dinner from last night, as well as my old flash. See you all tomorrow!

P.S. a word to my wife: Honey, I didn't just buy that flash, I've had it. I just now got around to messing with it.

Have a great day all! Jason

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