graham dunn is a city of industry

Polaroid Land Camera Flash Sync

Posted in cameras, diy by graham dunn is a city of industry on June 25, 2010

This is a really easy mod I did to sync my Polaroid 210 camera with a modern flash.  The cameras do accept a standard PC plug, so they’ll trigger flashes regardless, but you’ll be lacking flash sync and the camera won’t even realize you’re using a flash.

Let’s fix that:

For the Pocket Wizards I’m using, I need a 1/8″ jack.

If you don’t have Pocket Wizards, a lot of strobes can use the 1/8″ connection directly, you just have to be attached by a cable so make sure yours is good and long if you’re going that route.

You can also wire up a PC connector instead of a 1/8″ plug if you need that connection, the steps will be identical.

What you need are these things:

A Polaroid Land camera with a little flash connector up front.  This one’s the 210 model, very cheap on eBay:


electrical tape (you can use other tape too, but electric is best for this type of stuff)
a 1/8″ cable (the mono-plug kind…it looks like exactly like a regular headphone jack, but with only one plastic band around it).  This one’s a leftover from an Alien Bees flash, but you can get them cheaply at Radio Shack or somewhere similar.  Heck, you might even be able to make the headphone kind work, you’re just going to have 4 wires instead of two, so it’s a little trickier to know which 2 to use and which 2 to ignore.  Anyway, the ideal connector looks like this, with the one plastic band around it:

a Polaroid Model 268 flash (often these come with the cameras, but they’re about $6 on eBay if you don’t have one).  You’ll use it for its connector only; getting flashbulbs for it is expensive:

And that’s it.

First, snip the connector off the Polaroid flash.  I cut the cord about in the middle, leaving enough wire on the connector for me to work with, and enough length on the flash side in case I ever want to use it someday later on.

Next, snip the connector off the 1/8″ jack, again leaving yourself room to work with.  Both connector ends look like this now:

Inside both cords, you’ll see two self contained wires.  All you have to do is carefully peel the insulation off.  I rotate the scissors around the insulation a few times, then slide it off.  Do this for the outer casing and the two wires inside.

Once you have two bare wires on the Polaroid flash connector and two bare wires on the 1/8″ jack, you’re ready to put them together.  Simply twist one wire from each connector together and tape it.  Then do the same for the remaining two wires, and tape them.  Then tape the whole thing and you’re done!

In the following picture you can see the Polaroid connector on one side, the tape where things were spliced together, and the 1/8″ connector plugged into the Pocket Wizard on the other side, nice and simple:

Now when you fire the camera, whatever flash you’re hooked up to pops like normal, but the camera is using the proper connector so it knows to sync to the flash (I’m guessing 1/125).  Now your pictures are properly exposed with flash, plus you can use modern flashes and triggers, not crazy flashbulbs.

Hope this was helpful!

New Shots of Kirsten

Posted in shoots by graham dunn is a city of industry on September 3, 2009

New shots of Kirsten, lit with a gridded beauty dish high and to the left. This was a quick and fun shoot. Makeup by Juxta.


What’s Been Goin’ On

Posted in shoots by graham dunn is a city of industry on August 22, 2009

After shooting Chelsea in Corpus Christi back in late June, Jess and I sold the house and had to be out in 10 days. We packed up and headed to Los Angeles. There are some Contax T2 pictures from the drive out that are at the lab to come soon.

Since getting here, we’ve had a few shoots, one impromptu one with my brother:



A few with my wife, Jess, as she works on makeup and tries various looks:

Smokey Chignon

Heroin Panda

Jess and I shot a couple of other looks that we’re retouching and will post soon.

Lastly, we had a shoot with Alex (Model Mayhem) that was really fun. She and her boyfriend Matt came to our apartment where we shot a concept creative directed by Jess (AKA Juxta Makeup). She also did the makeup. The idea was a small girl from yesteryear trapped in a jar. She’s sad now, though she’s touted as a marvel to behold in her poster (seen next to her in the photograph).


Lighting-wise, I used a giant rectangular softbox on my Alien Bee 800 with the inner diffuser only (the inner diffuser is close to the strobe head, creating a slightly punchier source since it hasn’t had a chance to totally even out as it exits the box). This was placed the tall way, totally to the left side of Alex and slightly behind her, in order to create the 50/50 light/dark across her face. By putting it slightly behind her, I kept it off the background (the curtains of our apartment) and kept it from spilling across her face and onto the other side of her face. By shooting at 1/250 of a second, I kept the shutter fast enough to squash the ambient light. The jar was shot separately but with a similar lighting and camera angle setup. It was lit with the same softbox in the same position, plus a tungsten lamp on the floor pointed up to hit the jar eerily from below. I white-balanced to daylight and let the tungsten lamp orange up the scene to make it look older and warmer. There was a black pillow on the tabletop off-camera to the left. It was acting as a flag (opposite the softbox) to keep the same 50/50 light/dark ratio across the jar and to prevent the light from bouncing off the white walls where it shouldn’t. It helped to shoot tethered in Aperture and to shoot the jar first so I knew what angles were required.

In post I did a full beauty retouch on both images, masked them out, and composited everything together, using textures and brushes to give it all a decaying look.

We shot some beauty shots of Alex making faces just for fun as well. These were lit with a pretty simple clamshell setup. An Alien Bee 800 with a gridded beauty dish was centered and overhead, a giant softbox behind her head to provide wrap and backdrop, and a silver round reflector in her lap.

Alex Quat

That’s all for now. PEACE!