Using the Paul C. Buff Einstein with a Light Meter
In continuing to learn the ins and outs of my recently acquired Paul C. Buff “Einstein” (model E640) studio strobe, I’m teaching myself to meter flash. My Sekonic L-308S Flashmate exposure meter has 3 measuring modes:
- Auto Reset Cordless Flash
- Cord Flash
For this lighting test, I used the Auto Reset mode, since the subject was too far from the strobe to connect a sync cable. To meter the light, I attached a Yongnuo receiver to the strobe’s trigger port via a short sync cable, then fired it with an inexpensive Yongnuo transmitter. I later installed the transmitter in the camera hot shoe to light the portrait.
To calculate the exposure, I:
- Set the meter to match the camera ISO & shutter speed (160 and 1⁄180 second, respectively)
- Set the measuring mode to Auto Reset — for the next 90 seconds, the meter will measure only when flash is activated
- Ensured that the plastic “Lumidisc” was positioned over the meter’s lens
- Moved to where I would be standing for the self portrait
- Pointed the meter at the camera & depressed the “measure” button
- With my free hand, used the transmitter to trigger the strobe
- Adjusted the camera aperture to match the meter reading
Here’s the setup:
- Subject distance from strobe ≈ 10′ 6″
- Strobe is to subject front & right, ~7′ up, with a 43″ silver “bounce” umbrella angled at subject
- Strobe temperature = 5600K
- Light level = at ƒ/-4.0
- Camera distance from subject ≈ 2.5 meters (8′ 2″)
- Lens = Zeiss 50mm C Sonnar T* ƒ/1.5
- ISO = 160
- Shutter speed = 1⁄180 second
- Aperture = ƒ/4
- Negligible cloudy late afternoon ambient light from window to subject left
The tableau was inspired by a friend’s remark, made when I shared the previous lighting post on social media. He thought I looked “neo-Joycean”, so I took the idea and ran with it. I dug up some antique eyeglasses similar to a pair I knew James Joyce once wore and added a pork pie hat (the same Dobbs model worn by this famous singer).
The jacket, which has a vintage brass compass pinned to it, suggested hunting, as did the silk-screened duck design in the hat lining, so I added the duck decoys, the antique bourbon bottle, my camera bag (which resembles a hunter’s bag), and also the shotgun. Let me save you the trouble of pointing out that a 12 gauge shotgun is not a bird gun; I know the difference.
The image is an 80% quality JPEG with basic tonal adjustments, then B+W conversion and split toning. Finally, I added some vignetting to complete the “old time” feel of the image.
M-mount lenses do not provide aperture information to the camera body, either electronically or mechanically. Therefore, f-stop settings are approximate, and are probably wildly inaccurate. For what it’s worth, I usually shoot with my lenses wide open.