Harold Hall


My photography divides into just two areas, Personal (family and holidays) and Workshop photography, primarily for publication in the “Model Engineers’ Workshop” magazine and my books.


I am not going to enter into details of the methods I use for my holiday photographs, etc., as this is very much the same as most people will use. However, having had published around 2000 workshop photographs I do have some experience in this area though it in no way makes me an expert.


First,  a little background history, whilst editor, I visited readers workshops together with the publishers professional photographer from whom I learnt much of the basics, but this needed two visits, once to see if it warranted inclusion in the magazine and then again with the photographer. I decided therefor to start taking the photographs myself to avoid this as it was expensive in terms of time and costs.


Initially, I worked with two Canon AT1 SLR film cameras, one for prints that were used inside the magazine and the other with slide film for the cover. The publishers at that time would not accept prints for front cover use.. I now use two Single Lens Reflex digitals, a Canon EOS 350D and a Canon EOS 400D with output from these being acceptable for both inside and outside the magazine.


These are around 10 megapixels which is more than enough and only really becomes essential when one crops a small proportion out of a larger picture for publication which could then give you the equivalent of say 2 mp.


Focus and Lighting

Just two things are vitally important, focus and lighting, perhaps adding to that a steady hand, but I almost always use a tripod that overcomes that problem. If your camera has manual focus then this is the way to proceed as it avoids the possibility of the  camera being confused as to which part of the scene is most important in terms of clarity if focusing is done automatically.


We now come to lighting which is the main factor that will make or break a good picture. I am not saying that the method I use is the only acceptable one but it is the one that most professional photographers would use.


Workshop Photography, Harold Hall

I use an automatic flashgun with the flash pointing into a reflector but with the sensor on the flash unit looking towards the item being photographed. The sensor measures the strength of light being reflected back and from that determine’s its duration.


The purpose of the reflector is to defuse the light thereby reducing considerably the sharpness and depth of the resulting  shadows. Even with that done I also used a small hand held flash, triggered by the main flash. To defuse this I hold it with a loop of white paper in front of it. One advantage of a digital camera is very apparent here as it permits one to experiment with the lighting positions being able to view the results as they are taken. If a PC or Laptop is available in the work    shop then the result can be viewed at a larger size which is helpful but far from essential.


Safe Sync Unit

One word of warning for anyone taking the same route as me into digital photography, that is, if you wish to continue using the flash unit you used with your film camera then do be aware that the high voltage developed by the older flash unit will probably play havoc with the electronics of the digital camera and a safe sync unit will be required, the one I am using is from Wein Products, Inc. (However, Do read final paragraph   at the bottom of the page)  


This unit mounts onto the camera’s hot shoe and then provides a second hot shoe for mounting the flash unit. It also has a socket to take a cable for a remote flash gun being the method I use. The safe sync unit, whilst obviously from the US, it is available in the UK.



Canon EOS 400D
Flash gun slave unit
Canon EOS 400D
Wein Safe Sync
Canon Lens EF-S 18-55mm

The Gear,  move the curser over the picture for more detail


The Wein Products link above no longer works but I have left it in as it may be temporary. However, the  Wein Safe Sync unit is still available and can, typically, be obtained from Morco Professional Photographic Supplies