Flash in Photography
Mililani High School, Mililani, Hawaii
"The use of the open flash technique proved to be especially
difficult....[But] we realized that this type of photography created
illusions that the students found exciting."
Purpose of Description of Project
This project involved advanced photography students in the creation
of unique photographic images with the electronic flash unit.
The students created, developed, and mounted portrait, still life,
and special effects slides that were to be combined in a slide/tape
program reflecting their creative efforts.
Marvin Hamai invited two professional photographers to make presentations
to his students: the first showed the class several of his slide/tape
productions, and the second showed his slide program on how
to use the electronic flash and explained how he used the
in his own work. Both photographers suggested different
ways of using the electronic flash (e.g., to bounce light off
walls or ceilings to produce a softer effect). They answered students'
questions at the end of each presentation. Hamai also showed his
students Kodak's audiovisual slide presentation "Using Flash
Effectively." With Hamai's guidance they learned to use manual
and automatic flash units, adjust the aperture and synchronize
flash with shutter, bounce off of surfaces, create multiple flash
exposures, perform open flash experiments, use the electronic
flash with daylight, and stop action.
The students then used what they had learned as they took portraits,
still lifes, and special effects shots. They took their slides
during class and after school, and often served as models for
each other. Small groups of three or four students also experimented
with night-time photography. Hamai's students were required to
develop and mount their own slides; they did this in pairs using
E-6 chemicals. The final step was an in-class group evaluation
of all the students' slides. A slide/tape presentation was not
completed because it proved to be too ambitious an undertaking
for the time available.
Materials, Resources, and Expenses
The slide presentations by the professional photographers and
Kodak provided an "outstanding introduction," according
to Hamai. He also provided written references on photography in
general and the electronic flash in particular.
Students were required to provide their own
, and most
owned either a manual or an automatic/dedicated flash unit. They
made use of the school's existing darkroom facilities to develop
their slides. Additional needed equipment included tripod, copystand,
slave trigger, light stands, diffusion screen, umbrella, bounce
cards, and a slide projector.
Outcomes and Adaptability
Hamai plans to continue this activity as part of his regular curriculum
in advanced photography despite the fact that given the time necessary
to explain and use the electronic flash, the slide/tape program
was not feasible. After viewing the professional slide programs,
the students needed little motivation; they were all full of ideas
on how to proceed and what they wanted to try. They showed a great
deal of creativity in their experiments using the electronic flash,
although not all the slides turned out as expected due to exposure
problems. However, their knowledge of light sources and how to
intensify or soften light to change the mood of a photo did seem
to have improved. Hamai finds the project an overall success on
two levels: "a unit like this can stimulate the students'
interest in creating different images as well as reinforce some
of the basics such as exposure, lighting, stopping action, and
Hamai suggests that the project could, with a little imagination,
be adapted to any photography class. To ensure as much photographic
success as possible, he highly recommends the use of a flash meter
and lower speed