Something I never leave home without, whether I’m shooting film or digital, is my Colorsplash Flash from LSI. I’ve had this flash since my pre-DSLR days, even before I rediscovered film. It’s taken its fair share of bumps and bruises – I’ve dropped this so many times, cracking it open often enough – yet it still prevails.
While the Colorsplash is, hands down, my favorite accessory, I’ve never gotten it to work with my digital cameras (Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F717 and Canon 350D). Mount it on the hotshoe and snap away, but the flash refuses to trigger, most likely due to a voltage incompatibility. Why do I insist on keeping it if it doesn’t work?
Two things: color and volume.
The main appeal of the Colorsplash Flash is its color gel dial. Surrounding the bulb is a small plastic barrel that has four slots for color gels. Twisting the barrel 90-degrees changes the color of the gel, say, from amber to blue or magenta to minty green. When you buy the flash, a small packet of assorted gels is included, (I’ve since lost mine. Anyone have a spare?) and you can switch them around depending on your taste. The ability to instantly switch the color of light you want to throw on a subject is, in a word, awesome, and allows you to create your own lighting mood.
The second appeal, brought on by the flash’s inability to work with my digital cameras, is volume. Triggering it by hand, I can position the flash just about anywhere my arm can reach – to the side of someone’s face, under a chin, or pointing straight at the camera. This lets me cast strange shadows across my composition, giving volume to a scene.
Triggering a flash by hand is tricky at best. I often set aperture to something small, say f/8 to f/11, and shutter speed to Bulb. I pre-focus or guesstimate range. Shutter Open – Pop Flash – Shutter Close. Timing is essential.