Metronome | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

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As a general rule, I don’t do flash photography. I don’t own an external flash unit, so when the need arises I have to rely on the built-in flash on my cameras.

A photo competition in the forums over at x404.co.uk prompted me to do some experiments. The theme for the competition was “Music”, and entrants are encouraged to be as literal or as lateral as they like. Having an old clockwork metronome about the place, I thought I’d have a crack at capturing the moving pendulum.

The subject was set up, and after a bit of experimentation I figured out that having it set to 60 beats a minute would make life simpler. The goal was to have an exposure long enough it would capture the sweep, with the shutter firing at the end to freeze the pendulum. I controlled the camera in tethered mode, using the Canon software on the laptop. I guess I had an hour of experimenting before I got the shot I was after.

In the end, the chosen image was exposed at ISO 100, ƒ/4 for 2 seconds. The on-board flash was dialled back about as far as it could go and had a bit of tracing paper to diffuse it further, and fired at the end of the exposure.

As I say, I don’t normally “do” flash photography. I much prefer using fixed or ambient lighting. Having had a play with the techniques, though, I can understand the creative aspects that attract people to using strobes.

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