Since unearthing my old light-meter recently. I took a look at what else was still in the old case I keep my film cameras in. I found a couple of flashes and it occurred to me I could use one to test the flash-meter capabilities. I still haven’t put those adjustable wrenches away… They were sitting on a piece of timber left over from building my standing desk and I liked the arrangement, so I decided to use it.
So I had a recycled subject and the image was being made using recycled equipment. In hindsight I should have picked something green…
The lighting setup was simple. Main light is a tiny sunpak manual flash mounted on a stand with a white shoot through umbrella and connected by a cable. I also had a white reflector to manage any contrast issues from light falling off on the right hand side. Flash and Camera were all set to manual, then I set up the composition, angled the light down at 45 degrees, then popped the flash and took a reading.
The result was not quite right as I was getting what I thought was overexposure on the left but the readings were consistent so I made a series of adjustments to the aperture and got on with it, dropping the light lower so it eventually grazed the surface. After 3 images the penny dropped…
The light direction was actually causing the overexposure problem. At 45 degrees it was reflecting off the jaws causing them to blowout. In hindsight I should have worked that out based on the wood being evenly lit in that first image.
The image below was the final with the light placed at surface level. There is still some light fall off on the top left but it is not objectionable and moving the reflector closer would have dealt with it.
So in terms of testing the flash meter, I would say this was a limited success. I found the meter was more accurate in reflected mode than incident. This surprised me and I may try some other tests to see if the incident meter has an issue. There was one last surprise in that I used my iPhone to make an image of the spanners using the umbrella to diffuse the natural light in the room. This came out quite well so I used it for the featured image for this post.