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Ghetto lightbox


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Ghetto lightbox

8 Sep 2020 8:54AM   Views : 482 Unique : 313


I was discussing light modifiers with a model who also runs a studio, as part of an arts complex. She’s recently bought a single flash unit to go with a couple of cheap LED lights, which have white brollies. We were discussing softboxes, which aren’t that costly these days - £25 will get you one that’s 120x80cm. But the flash was there, and the brollies were there, and so I played.


Now, really cheap brollies are white nylon, and have a degree of see-through that would be entirely appropriate for a Patrick Lichfield Unipart calendar… so while the obvious thing is to bounce the light out of the brolly, it can be highly productive to just point the flash as the subject through the brolly.


It happens that I’d been musing about my first ever brolly, which was a thing called a Paraflash – I ended up with one white one and one gold one. These were very simple, with a crudely-machined flash shoe where you’d expect the handle, and a socket for a tripod screw in the bottom of the block of metal. I ‘modified’ my Paraflash units to fit studio flash units – but then, among the bits and pieces of photographic stuff that I’ve acquired, I found a cardboard tube marked ‘Polysales’ with their version snuggling inside.

Polysales were a firm in Godalming around 1980 who sold all manner of interesting, often own-branded kit and chemicals. I don’t know when they disappeared from the landscape – I remember buying stuff from them on my way between Winchester – where I lived at the time – and Strobe Studios and The Beehive in London. But that’s another story…


I’d also acquired a very Fifties tripod: multiple sections of slender brass leg, tall, elegant and fragile… Only my inability to find my flash extension lead led me to an inauthentic setup, with a radio trigger for the manual-only Sunpak flash. I even shot with my Spotmatic, though I admit to taking readings with a meter, and trying a shot on a digital camera first…

The top and bottom of it is this: while all of us who shoot a lot with lighting can be precious about EXACTLY what light modifiers to use, a brolly is a lot cheaper than the other options – you can get a couple with (flimsy) stands and continuous lights for £20, and the light is lovely and soft. You may even be able to beg, borrow or steal a brolly – a lot of people have got them as part of a kit, and aren’t that fussed about using them.

Mind you, if you’re really desperate, you can do what I did before the Paraflash – Evo Stik and kitchen foil collided with my Mum’s old and tatty umbrella…


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
8 Sep 2020 8:56AM
I'm due to be trying out my camera's video capability tomorrow, so there will be no blog... But the day may generate something for later in the week.

I don't do video: early experiments with a clockwork Standard 8mm camera convinced me that it's too much like hard work. But maybe it's time to play again.
chase Avatar
chase Plus
18 2.5k 682 England
8 Sep 2020 12:00PM
Lol, Evo stick and tin foil...right up my street Wink
altitude50 Avatar
altitude50 19 23.9k United Kingdom
8 Sep 2020 2:18PM
I remember Polysales in Godalming, I used to live about 4 miles away and visited them a few times. They were a warehouse with a counter rather than a shop, they sent out a glossy catalogue. I remember buying a Makinon 500mm mirror lens from them plus some darkroom accessories. They probably closed in the early 90's ???
dark_lord Avatar
dark_lord Plus
19 3.0k 836 England
8 Sep 2020 9:51PM
I remember Polysales adverts in Amateur Photographer. I think they sold a fisheye lens adapter that gave a 28 mm field of view when fitted to a 50 mm lens and a superwide view when fitted to a 28 mm lens. I never bought one.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
9 Sep 2020 12:34PM
Probably a good decision, Keith!

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