August 02, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I've always been a bit of a tinkerer. Ever since I can remember I've taken things apart and put them back together again. As a kid it was clocks from junk shops, now it's anything dismantleable. Recently I won an auction on eBay for an audio mixing unit. When it arrived I noticed that it was a little dirty so I thought It deserved a clean (why do people not clean stuff they sell? Or am I just a little OCD?) Cleaning electronics can be a fiddly job to get round sliders and switches, I've found it's best to use a computer cleaning spray but it's not recommended when the fluid could get into the electronics. This unit had 30 buttons, 8 dials and 8 motorised sliders. In this situation the best option was to completely dismantle the item and wash the plastics with warm soapy water. It took about an hour to find all the hidden screws and strip it to a pile of parts. It's washed and reassembled now and works perfectly. I'm not using it to mix music but for "mixing" photos. I'll do another blog post on that.

So you get the gist that I tinker and solve practical problems. And so it was, that I have an old Hasselblad film camera that I wanted to use to take portraits with in my studio, using flash. The only flash I have is Canon brand and it's not really designed to use with a 40 year old camera. And so began the challenge of getting the two to work together. My most complicated design consisted of a modified remote trigger that would be connected to the Hasselblad so that when I tripped the shutter it would trigger a Canon camera which would subsequently trigger the flash. Needless to say complication didn't win the day and I ended up with a blank roll of film. Too many delays along the sequence of triggers meant the Hasselblad shutter and Canon flash just weren't in sync. Like a row of dominoes it was all one after the other, rather than all at once.

That was a few months ago. I'd abandoned the project until a couple of weeks ago a came home with the Hasselblad with only two exposures left on the film and an urge to finish the roll so I could process it and see what I'd got. A modified connector became the missing link between new and old and what was even better was that my new solution would let me set the flash via my Canon camera whilst leaving the flash connected to the Hasselblad. Simplicity and clarity.

So I set the Canon to ISO 100, f2.8 to match the film ISO and lens aperture of the Hasselblad. Shutter speed doesn't really matter for a camera with a leaf shutter lens like the Hasselblad but just for a bit of insurance I set it to 1/30th second for a bit of leeway with it being open at the same time as the flash fired. As that might have let the ambient light influence the final exposure too much the room lights were dimmed and window blinds drawn. A few test shots with the Canon and the flash strength was set to about 1/32nd of full power. Lastly an air release was connected to the Hasselblad. As I was to be the subject for these shots I would need some way of tripping the shutter remotely. I donned an American Indian headdress that I got at a festival for a bit of interest and got into position. So the shutter click-clunked and the flash popped and I wound the film on and did it again. So that was it. Two exposures done! It would take 15 minutes developing the film to see if it worked. So you can imagine my delight when the whole film looked well exposed including my two experimental shots. Grin. While it's not an amazing photograph it's still a success that I'm pleased to share.


The Hasselblad and the modified connector. The thin wire from the lens is where it all starts as that is where the shutter is. This is connected to the block on top of the camera and then the thick cable goes to the flash which was in a softbox on a stand above my head in the photo above. From the bottom of the camera is an air release which ends in a large rubber bulb which you can see in my hand in the photo above. It takes a firm squeeze of the bulb to push the little piston which trips the shutter.


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