New York | Dave Beckerman

Basically what I did - was stand by the first car of the shuttle and wait to try and catch people running to catch it. Since there is always another shuttle in a few minutes, it is very New York to see how desperate people are to catch the train before it leaves to go to Times Square (from Grand Central). The flute player, just rides the trains back and forth. There are tons of cameras photographing me as I photograph the dash to the train.

The infrared flash is great for these deep rich black and white photos. I like the results better than what I did last summer with the flash and HIE film. But it is really not very good for color. I suspect this is because it was setup for HIE film which is a bit higher on the spectrum. In other words, the flash is similar to using an 87 infrared filter, and the camera is set to pick up from 720 nm. The combination is excellent, as I say for black and white, but not useful for color IR. So what you’ll see, if I’m using the flash will be in black and white. When you see color infrared, it’s either the straight camera, or in a few cases I’ve actually used the dinky “normal” on-camera flash for fill. This gave an interesting effect in the photograph below of the sky and trees, where the flash hit trees and brought them up so they had some punch against the sky.

And yes, the flash gives “sensous” results with people, but it is very rare for it to “see through clothes.” Generally, it gives this sheen to the clothing and outlines are more pronounced than they’d be with normal film or infrared film.

As far as technique with the IR flash goes: it’s pretty straight forward. I set the camera to manual, and the shutter speed to 1/200th (which is the highest sync speed on the camera). Figure out what a reasonable f-stop is going to be, usually about f5.6 or f8.0.

Then I just adjust the flash for the distance, i.e. with the Vivitar it’s set to either “yellow” or “red”. The flash adjusts itself based on what is returned to it’s sensor. At most, I’m off by a stop or so.

You can’t really use the flash in other “creative” modes since the camera doesn’t recognize it. It fires, but it doesn’t take into consideration what the flash is doing so in a typical dark scene it’s going to want to open the aperature or slow down the shutter speed.

M. says I’m complaining over trivial stuff because I expect the camera to be able to read flash light in AV or Program mode - but is that asking too much. I’d need a dedicated flash to do that. Whatever, results are very pleasing to me so far.

On other notes, since the subject sees the flash unit on top, or sometimes I use it off-camera with a cord, they expect it to go off. The fact that they don’t see the invisible flash makes the situation even more confusing for them. The guy’s got a flash, but I don’t see it going off. Guess he didn’t take the shot. It’s actually a good street-photography decoy.

And okay - a couple of quick notes about using the Canon 350 XT:

- My pinkie (sp?) finger on the right hand is blistered because it wants to go under the camera.

- There are some custom functions that I normally use on the 40D that are missing.

- It is freakin’ tiny. The buttons are tiny. The viewfinder is tiny. I have trouble pressing some of them and may get my fingers sharpened.

- Did I say it was lightweight. I don’t expect it weighs more than the Vivitar 285HV flash I’m using.

- The battery life is short, very short compared to the 40D battery. One battery is usually showing low by the end of a few hours of shooting. With the 40D I could go a week or more before the battery indicator moves to low.

To solve the blistered pinkie finger and the battery issues I’m end up buying the battery holder which uses two xt batteries.

But for something that right now is sort of in the experimental phase - it was a good choice. If money was no object - i.e. if I didn’t need to think about it - I’d rather use it with a larger more sophisticated camera (think 5d, 40d etc.)

NEXT STOP: Some museum where they don’t allow flash photography. They actually don’t allow flash photography on the subway but I’ve yet to see any tourist rounded up for that.

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  1. Phill

    Dave,
    Have been a big fan of your site for a while and I’m really enjoying this IR phase of yours. This subway image is particularly good though. Really nice. All the best
    Phill

    Aug 27, 2008 @ 2:26 am

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