Idling away on the South Perth foreshore one evening, I was trying to think of a use for the Perth skyline. I mean, they've taken a lot of trouble putting lights on the buildings and all and it seems only courteous to take some sort of notice.
Then I read further into the instruction booklet that came with the new Fujifilm EF X-500 electronic flash
. The Fujifilm people make a reasonably good set of instructions and the flash itself is easy to master. The bit that intrigued me was the arrangement that could be made for multiple flashes.
You have three decisions to make via the page buttons and the scroll wheel:
a. Level of manual flash power.
b. Number of flashes that you want to fire.
c. Length of time over which you want to fire them.
Each one of the flashes will record as a separate illumination in the final frame while the background will keep burning into the image. If you want to capture the movements of the subject cleanly, you need a black backdrop...but anything else is pure art.
To work in South Perth at twilight you also need an open space that people do not intrude into. Short of laying perimeter mines, there is little you can do to achieve this. The world, his wife, and their relatives visiting from another planet will all walk back and forth behind the model. Some will walk in front. It is an exercise in restraint - on your part - because they ain't gonna be on theirs...
The results? More like Marcel Duchamp descending a staircase with his clothes on than I really wanted, but intriguing nevertheless. The rigid precision of the flash firing is probably going to be very useful for motion studies, but against an inky backdrop. The flash fires at lower powers if you command it to fire often or at small intervals - there must be some time required inside it for power to be built up in the capacitor, after all. But given the good high ISO performance of the Fujifilm cameras there is a surprising amount of light coming off the flash head.
The model is the beauteous and patient Jane Hebiton.