The Flash!


In my ongoing commitment to you, my dear friends, to actually accomplish my New Year’s Resolutions, I bring you today my first attempt at manual flash photography!

These were taken on the M6 (non-TTL) using a cheap-looking Metz 20 C-2 flash…all $40 of it.

They were hastily shot and developed on old PanF+ (ISO 50) this morning.






I am very much liking what I see here, and loving the world this opens up.

(I will likely blind my children in the next few months…)

Must. Pace. Self.




17 thoughts on “The Flash!

  1. says:

    Very well done Mark. I was thinking of trying the same with my DP3, in addition to the Ice Light I’ve been using.

    With regards to blinding your children, that’s the problem I’ve always had with flash β€” it’s intrusive (but it does open up opportunities as you say). Does the Metz you’re using not at least tilt so you can bounce the light indirectly?

    • mewanchuk says:

      Thanks Peter.

      You are quite correct–the Metz will tilt (and some of these were bounced…) but I’m still a little cautious, as I just wasn’t sure whether I’d get odd “downlit” effects and such.

      On the whole, I’ve gotta say that I’m actually happier with these than I ever was with digital TTL flash photography on the Cano-niko systems. Maybe I just didn’t know what I was doing. Or maybe the fancy cameras out-thought me. Or maybe it’s just B&W film.

      B&W film fixes everything. (Yes, even pictures of me…cuz I knew THAT was coming).



    • mewanchuk says:

      Thanks Bijan!

      The short answer is: You don’t!

      The long answer is, there are actually three ways to go about it: (Four, if you count off-camera metering with a manually regulated flash-gun…but that takes a few steps, and a flash test-fire).

      1. Option One Full manual: You set the camera at the flash sync speed (usually marked on the shutter speed dial) and then calculate the correct aperture (exposure) using the flash’s guide number at a certain ISO and distance. This is usually marked on an unintelligible chart on the back of the flash. This is not what I did.

      2. Option Two Full TTL: You get a TTL camera (M6 TTL, M7, or MP) and pair it with a TTL-capable flash. Leave the camera on flash sync speed (never changes) and pick an aperture. When you take the photo, the flash fires at the correct output required for proper exposure.

      3. Option Three Portion Thereof: This is what I did, and it is actually simpler than it seems. Despite being relatively inexpensive, the Metz C-2 actually has an auto-output function (different than TTL…important!) Again, you place the camera at flash sync speed, and leave it there–on the M6 Classic it is 1/50s. Next, there is a slightly more decipherable graph on the back of the flash which tells you two things: The aperture (or apertures) at which the auto function is designed to be utilized, and the maximum distance at which the flash will adequately output for proper exposure.

      In the case of the Metz, the auto function works at f/2.8 or f/5.6–there is a switch to indicate which. (The flash output assumes ISO100 film–you have to compensate slightly if your film is different). Essentially you set your lens to the aperture you have chosen on the flash, and then fire the photo. The flash has a sensor on it which will terminate the pulse once an adequate amount of output has been reached. It is not as fancy as TTL (you cannot pick any aperture) but it still works fairly elegantly. My film was ISO50, so I used a set aperture of f/2, even though the flash was set for f/2.8

      Of note: this particular Metz will even work properly for other cameras…like the Mamiya 7II!

      (Off Bijan goes to B&H website…search for ‘Metz 20 C-2’)


      All the best,

      • mewanchuk says:


        You know what they say: “There are no dumb questions……”

        Tri-X 400 would work just fine. In this case you would have two options:

        1. Shoot and under-develop (“Pull”) the film at ISO 100, using exactly the settings specified on the flash; or

        2. Shoot and develop the film normally at ISO400, remembering to alter your aperture by two full stops. This is useful if you want a mixture of flash and non-flash photography on the same roll. As a result, If the selector on the flash was set at f/2.8 you would actually dial f/5.6 in on your lens. If the selector was set at f/5.6 you would have to use f/8. (The disadvantage of this method is that you do not get the benefit of some nice shallow DOF at f/2.8). This is to compensate for the fact that the flash is “dumbly” firing at an amount needed to properly expose ISO100 film.

        Good luck!

        (EDIT: Just to emphasize…this is with the “lo-fi” Metz. If you get a TTL flash for your TTL camera, you can do whatever you like if the ISO is set correctly on the camera!)

  2. Karim D. Ghantous (@kdghantous) says:

    I do not use flash, and do not ever want to, but I think you’re very good at it. I just would not know that flash was used. I think it’s partly because you used film, and partly because you aren’t overthinking it. Just go with the flow. So you’ll mess up a shot here and there – but so what?! Keep doing what you’re doing.

    Remember: if you can’t bounce off the ceiling, bounce off the wall. If you’re using b&w film it won’t matter if there are colour casts from weird paint… long live b&w!

    BTW it’s sad that Baby J isn’t really Baby J anymore. πŸ˜‰ She’s a cute one, though!

  3. Andy Gemmell says:

    Well done Mark! You’ll only getter better at this and bit more elaborate in how you get results so this is a great start. Re the Cano-Niko side of things i think you’ll have found ISO played more of a part in those and they are generally are more powerful. did you grab a diffuser with this?

    • mewanchuk says:

      Thanks Andy!

      I suspect you may be right on the ISO bit.

      As for the diffuser: I did not use one with these. Strangely (I have some color ones now as well…) it does not seem to be necessary!


  4. jkjod says:

    The second to last cracks me up – its as if she is casually reading a book, is her cup of coffee just out of the picture???

    • mewanchuk says:


      It’s an e-reader, silly!


      I got a kick out of that one too…she’s staring at the stereo remote.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.