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archived from 2004 photolab gallery
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Flash/Macro: Night Trains, Flash Bulbs and a 2002 Head
February 23 to April 3, 2004

I've been a large format, view camera  photographer since 1973.  In the 90's I began to realize that I sometimes wanted to get off the tripod, but still wanted to shoot in 4x5.  This led me to acquire several Speed Graphic press cameras and become something of a fan of these old workhorses.  What I didn't expect was that they would lead me to some new and different directions in my other photography.


Flash, as with flash bulbs, was a part of press photography and it was only natural to acquire some of the old flash guns that went with these cameras.  I had done some open flash work at a photo meet on the Nevada Northern Railway so this could allow me to do this on my own.  Then I began to study the idea of synchronized multi-flash railroad photography like that done by O. Winston Link.  

Well, time to buy more equipment.

A trip to Bakersfield led me to try this out in the nearby Tehachapi Mountains.  The rail line through these mountains proved ideal, lots of curves, tunnels and, most important, many, many slow-moving trains.  The result of this is the first series here.  Not all the images involved synchronized flash, in fact most don't, and some use time exposures, but it was having the flash that led me to this subject.         


And
look for a shadow cast by the moon.
 

Some of these images use time exposures. Tests  showed  that  with
Tri-X and a full moon, ten minutes at f11 gave a useful exposure with no other light.  more


Photographs by
Gordon Osmundson
 

Add to this a flash to freeze the action or the streak of a passing headlight and you begin to have some interesting possibilities.  One of these images even uses a combination of time exposure and synchronized flash, see if you can spot it and figure out how it was done.  Another uses the light from the headlight of a passing train.  And look for a shadow cast by the moon.

Maybe I was being a bit obsessive, but I saved all the used bulbs.  There was just something interesting about their blistered surfaces.  I had some of my flash equipment setup in my living room and I had stuck a used bulb in the reflector.  Well, the reflection in the reflector looked even more interesting, especially if you got your eye in just  the right place.  Then it occurred to me, if I could see this, then I could  photograph it and the second of the series shown here was born.
 

Maybe I was being a bit obsessive, but I saved all the used bulbs.
 

Now this presented its own technical problems.  Shooting distances would be short and depth of field limited.  A Rodenstock depth of field calculator allowed me to get the most out of this, 3.0 cm at f128.  For the short shooting distances, I rented a Rodenstock 180mm f5.6 Apo Macro Sironar from Calumet in San Francisco.  Lighting and composition presented their own problems, but the solutions were rather simple.  The results are here for you to see.
 

I began to think that the Macro lens would be useful to have handy in my regular kit of equipment, its focal length fit right between my 150 and 210mm lenses, and I would always be able to move in as close as I would want, so I bought one.  It has become my most used lens.
 

It was time for a trip to the machine shop.


Now about this time my BMW 2002 began to not run right, loss of power, a bad tick at ideal.  Tests showed low compression on the #two cylinder.  Being handy with a wrench, I pulled the head and sure enough the #2 exhaust valve was partly eaten away. 

It was time for a trip to the machine shop.  I left the head so that it could receive new exhaust valves and the intake valves could   be reground. 

When I went back to pick it up,   the entire head had been glass beaded  (a  process like sand  blasting)  and    it shone like a giant multifaceted jewel.

I took the head home and was looking at it when a small composition presented itself to me.  Well, here was something to do with my new macro lens.  In fact, it proved to be a lot of something to do with the new lens.  A couple of months and five 100 sheet boxes of Tri-X later, I was ready to put my car back together.

It shone like a giant multifaceted  jewel.

Edward Weston used to eat the vegetables that he photographed.  He ate his photographs.  I get to drive mine.

Used 22 flash bulb, #1
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Contact Gordon Osmundson

Last updated on: 12/14/16



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