Closing The Barn Doors Before The Lightning Bolts - Elinchrom

on November 25, 2015

Users of Elinchrom studio flash units please draw up a chair and sit down - this one is for you. Visitors who use other systems may sit in and pick as much out of it as they can.

I used to use as much light in a studio to take picture as I possibly could. Pushing the sliders up to the top on the Elinchrm EL 500 and 250 units was common and when they went off it looked like Alamagordo. I got up to 5 Elinchrom heads and had to start wearing a Royal Navy flash hood and gloves before pressing the trigger. Floor tiles were buckling from the heat...

This was in the days of trying to shoot time-expired X-ray film as sheet film with f stops in the 128 region. Please don't ask me why in case I figure out an answer...

Nowadays with the Fujifilm cameras and their ability to do jpegs to order, I rarely even use two of the 250 w/s. heads, and when I do I am very economical with the light. It passes through a number of mazes before it gets to the model and after that I do my best to scoop it up again and feed it back into the electricity grid.

The standard 21 cm reflector is the one that lets me employ the barn doors. Elinchrom have made the barn door holder into a dual-use device. You can put on barn doors of various types - and you can put them on all four sided of the holder if you want to - and you can utilise the holder as a way of adding honeycomb grids or gels to the light at the same time.

I reserve the honeycombs for the 18cm reflectors but have made up a varied set of gels from Lee filter material - the heat resistant variety - to add spice to the glamour girl pictures. The same sliding rails that support my home-made gel holders are the place where the Elinchrom-made honeycombs slide in.

Do the barn doors completely trap the light? No - they never do, no matter which brand you get. there always has to be a place with standard barn doors where the two elements meet and it is never light-tight. However, , when you need to shield the backdrop or other elements of the scene from the blast of the strobe it is certainly possible to flag off the light with Foam Core board or matt board attached to the metal barn doors. I have a box full of varied terry clips to do this and as long as the flag does not need to be too big it works a treat. If you need a full size board as a flag you are better off using a Manfrotto grip designed for the purpose and positioning it with a separate light stand.

And occasionally you need an assistant standing on one foot with both arms in the air and a strained look on their face to absorb the light. Disregard their language as they are under stress...