A call for help with a personal project.

As I mentioned in my previous post I have been shooting film for all my personal projects. Shooting film is by no means difficult if you know your way around a camera. It could be argued that shooting film is easier as there are less functions, you just shoot!

However, it is when the creative juices hit that my confidence and ability to get “the shot” crumbles. I rely more on estimations and happy accidents. But it is in practicing these challenging shots that I have the most fun! In time, these estimations become more and more accurate. Before long that creative shot is part of your film arsenal.

So I started a new project. This requires two things, a subject and a medium to marry together. The two pillars of any good photography project. That way the photos will have a consistent look and feel to them, each photo becoming part of the larger piece.

In this case I am using Kodak Portra 400 (colour) film on the Leica with a 35mm lens as the medium. My subject is commuters. This is easy in London. I generally walk around hot spots for commuters at peak hours. To help emphasise the subjects I am using hend-held flash where possible. That way I am forced into an uncomfortable situation as the subjects likely are (by having their photos taken).

The idea from the project came about after bad weather forced me off my regular transport and onto the trains. You see, I normally bike all around London. It is absolutely my preferred method of transport. Cycling in a big city is more dangerous than commuting with public transport. But, the inherent stress from cramming on the tube does far more psychological damage to me than a bearable bruise or cut. Me on my bike 🙂

This stress is evident on the faces of all the commuters. As I stood there crammed up against everyone, I slowly made my way through the pairs of eyes and worn faces on the train. Each with their own story to tell but no one was telling it. So I thought that I could tell that story by taking photographs.

As my project progresses I am posting the photos on my Instagram. So be sure to follow along if this is something that interests you too!

The call for help?

As I was a few rolls of film into this project I found that shooting with the handheld flash was becoming somewhat of a challenge. Some of the photos came back fantastic. While others would come back with 1/3 – 1/4 of the image unexposed. See the images below:

The Leica M6 has a number of shutter speed settings on the top of the camera. One of which being a little lightning bolt. Presumably this is for flash syncing. However I am not always in an environment where this is the correct setting to expose the surroundings.

The M6 is a manual camera with all manual settings. The flash I am using is a Canon EX430II which I use with my 5d Mark III. When I use it on a modern camera I am able to use TTL flash settings and therefore a lot of the guesswork is handled in camera. However, with the Leica I am forced to use the flash in manual mode with manual settings. In other words, the hotshoe will only trigger the flash.

My question

Does anyone out there reading this have any idea as to why I am getting this underexposure? What steps can I take to improve my flash performance using this configuration of camera and flash?

Final words

To finish I would like to say a huge thank you for anyone reading this far. It means a lot to me. If you liked this article please don’t hesitate to share it with your friends by clicking share below. I would really appreciate it!

To get in direct contact with me you can send me a message on twitter @benkepka or facebook. I answer every question sent to me and love the opportunity to connect with the audience. Thanks again for reading!

Ben Kepka – The Cultured Kiwi