Self Portrait: Duck Hunter

Using the Paul C. Buff Einstein with a Light Meter

In con­tin­u­ing to learn the ins and outs of my recently acquired Paul C. Buff “Einstein” (model E640) stu­dio strobe, I’m teach­ing myself to meter flash. My Sekonic L-308S Flashmate expo­sure meter has 3 mea­sur­ing modes:

  • Ambient
  • Auto Reset Cordless Flash
  • Cord Flash

For this light­ing test, I used the Auto Reset mode, since the sub­ject was too far from the strobe to con­nect a sync cable. To meter the light, I attached a Yongnuo receiver to the strobe’s trig­ger port via a short sync cable, then fired it with an inex­pen­sive Yongnuo trans­mit­ter. I later installed the trans­mit­ter in the cam­era hot shoe to light the por­trait. To cal­cu­late the expo­sure, I:

  1. Set the meter to match the cam­era ISO & shut­ter speed (160 and 1180 sec­ond, respectively)
  2. Set the mea­sur­ing mode to Auto Reset — for the next 90 sec­onds, the meter will mea­sure only when flash is activated
  3. Ensured that the plas­tic “Lumidisc” was posi­tioned over the meter’s lens
  4. Moved to where I would be stand­ing for the self portrait
  5. Pointed the meter at the cam­era & depressed the “mea­sure” button
  6. With my free hand, used the trans­mit­ter to trig­ger the strobe
  7. Adjusted the cam­era aper­ture to match the meter reading

Self Portrait: Duck Hunter (100% crop)
Self Portrait (Lighting Test): Duck Hunter (100% crop; may appear smaller on some devices)

Here’s the setup:

Subject dis­tance from strobe
≈ 10′ 6″
Strobe posi­tion & modifier
to sub­ject front & right, ~7′ up, with a 43″ sil­ver “bounce” umbrella angled at subject
Strobe tem­per­a­ture
Light level
Camera dis­tance from subject
≈ 2.5 meters (8′ 2″)
Zeiss 50mm C Sonnar T* ƒ/1.5
Shutter speed
1180 second
Ambient light
Negligible cloudy late after­noon ambi­ent light from win­dow to sub­ject left

The Portrait

The tableau was inspired by a friend’s remark, made when I shared the on social media. He thought I looked “neo-Joycean”, so I took the idea and ran with it. I dug up some antique eye­glasses sim­i­lar to a pair I knew James Joyce once wore and added a pork pie hat (the same Dobbs model worn by this famous singer). The jacket, which has a vin­tage brass com­pass pinned to it, sug­gested hunt­ing, as did the silk-screened duck design in the hat lin­ing, so I added the duck decoys, the antique bour­bon bot­tle, my cam­era bag (which resem­bles a hunter’s bag), and also the shot­gun. Let me save you the trou­ble of point­ing out that a 12 gauge shot­gun is not a bird gun; I know the difference.

I made basic tonal adjust­ments to the image, then applied B+W con­ver­sion and split ton­ing. Finally, I added some vignetting to com­plete the “old time” feel of the image. 

About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

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