Freezing Water, Flash vs Continuous Light: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

In this video I compare flash with continuous light to see which is best at freezing splashes. AdoramaTV presents ‘Take and Make Great Photography’ with Gavin Hoey. Hello, I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re watching AdoramaTV, brought to you by Adorama, the camera store that has everything for us photographers. In this video I’m going to look at freezing fast-moving subjects now this is
something I’ve done many times before here on AdoramaTV in all sorts of
different ways but the theme that’s always run through them is the light. I use
flash so the question I get asked and the one I’m going to answer in this video is well, can I do the same thing but with continuous light? So what I’ve got here are four different lights, I’ve got two different types of flashes, two different types of
continuous light, I’m going to use all four lights to create this image that I’m going to call splash light and we’ll see whether or not it’s possible to do it with
different light sources. Now, I don’t know how this is going to work out so let’s get
this out of the way, set the pool up and get splashing. So, let’s start with the
setup. Now I’m not going to go in-depth here, check out the Adorama Learning Center for a lot more information on how I do splashes but the basic setup is this. I’ve
got a light at the back that’s obviously going to change as I go through the video. All of the lights are going to fire through my tracing paper screen. I’ve got a paddling pool in the hopes that it will capture some of the water, not get too
messy. The actual light bulb itself is on a black glossy floor tile, and because I’m only using a single light I want to fill in the shadow side of my light bulb, hence
the small mirror, hopefully that will bounce a bit of light and we’ll find out in a second. Obviously I could use a second light, but the whole purpose of this
video is to use just a single light. So that’s the basic setup. One more
thing that’s absolutely essential, you’re going to need a towel. This is likely to get messy. It’s always a good idea to know where your towel is. So what about the camera set up? Well, to keep things the same I’m going to try and keep all of my shots at f-16,
a good depth of field, I’m really close and splashes go way further than you
realize. F16 is my aperture of choice. Other
than that, everything else is up for grabs so my ISO, I’ll try and keep that
reasonably low, my shutter speed will be proportionate to the light that I’m
using. Let’s just take some shots and see what happens. So I’m going to start with my go to light
the Flashpoint Streaklight 360. It’s a powerful flash, it’s got a short flash duration at its lowest power settings and that’s what I’ve got this set to 1/128th of its full
power. Now, I’m just going to take a shot and just see if it…that actually looks fine, actually brilliant. That’s perfect. So its lowest power setting is terrific. Let’s pour some water on and see how that goes. Now, the lowest power setting gives a
flash duration of about 1/10,000th of a second, should be pretty much
perfect for stopping water. Here we go let’s make this kind of wet. That’s ok we
got a couple of shots like that, we’ll see how that goes. Yeah, I mean that’s fantastic. That looks
really, really nice. The thing is, at that really low flash power I should be able to set
the camera up into continuous shooting, sequential shooting here on the Olympus, and I should just be up able to pour it and keep going. Let’s have a quick test. Yeah, ok here we
go. And it will just keep going and going and going. That’s fantastic. And it will keep up with me so things are getting messy, as expected, and that is brilliant. The flash is easily keeping up with the camera, although it’s not the way I like to
shoot, it does give me some great choices. So now I’ve swapped over to the Flashpoint Zoom Lithium Ion Speedlite. It’s a less powerful flash but it’s still set to 1/ 128th power. Not
surprising, it’s nowhere near as bright as with the Streaklight so I
need to increase the power of the flash. That means keeping the flash on for
longer, which means a longer flash duration, less freezing power. I reckon
that’s about three ish stops. Let’s go up to 1/16thpower. I’ve tried that. Yeah, 1/16th power looks about right but is that enough to freeze the action? Well, let’s find out. Let’s pour this on. Here we go. Yeah, it looks pretty good. Except when you get right to the edges you can see
there’s a little bit of smudging, a little bit of blurring of those
fast-moving drops so in this case it’s close. I reckon if I drop it down to 1/32nd power and compensate by increasing the ISO to 400. Let’s try that. And again. And once more. Well that is definitely better. It’s perhaps, not as good as the Streaklight, not surprisingly but I reckon that is
probably acceptable. So, the test. Will it do the continuous shooting? OK, well let’s just see. That looks promising. I think it might, you know, ok here we go. I think it did pretty well actually
keeping up with the high-speed continuous shooting. So with continuous
light there are as many choices there, as there are in flash. I’m going to start with
something small and cheap. I’ve got just a 10 watt LED torch flashlight around the
back there. It gives a beautiful beam of light. 10 watts of LED light is really, really bright. The trouble is you can’t see it because I’ve got even brighter video lights lighting the room so let’s switch those off. Now, it is a bit gloomy in here so you’ll have real trouble seeing me, I appreciate that, but let’s just take a shot at the same
settings as I had for the Speedlite, and it’s pretty much under exposed not
surprisingly. I’m going to increase my shutter speed to 1/1000th of a second. I reckon that’s an absolute minimum I need with continuous light to
get something even reasonably sharp and then I’m going to increase my ISO until
I get correct exposure, so I’m still, oh my goodness, I’m still way under. I’m a stop under at 256,000ISO. This isn’t going to work. That 10 watt LED light is not
bright enough. Now, obviously I need something a lot brighter for my
continuous light and I kind of thought that might happen so I have prepared a,
well it’s one of my video lights actually. It’s got four fluorescent bulbs
in it. Each one is a 105 watt fluorescent. That’s equivalent roughly of about 1,900 watts,
1800 watts of continuous tungsten light so it’s pretty darn bright, as lights go. It takes a minute to warm up so let’s just turn that on. Now, once again to be
fair on the test I need to turn out my video lights because if we’re shooting with ambient, that is going to
make a difference and these video lights are seriously bright. There you go, but nonetheless you can see the difference in brightness between the LED that I had earlier and
this light because you can still see me, which is a good thing. Now the first
advantage of using continuous light is you get a preview. What you see on the screen
is what you’re going to get. Fantastic and I can see I need to move the light back
and that’s really helpful because with flash, you know, you can figure it out but
you never really know until you’ve taken the first shot. OK, that’s better. So what
about the exposure? Now I had the ISO dialed up to maximum for that LED light, I can reduce that ISO a lot as
I’m getting at least plus three stops. In fact I can come down to 1600 ISO. There we go. Let’s just take a shot like that and see if that works. OK, here we go. And the answer is no. It’s rubbish, absolutely terrible. It looks fine but the minute you go and have a closer look you
can see the amount of smudging on those water drops as they’re flying through
the air. 1/1000th of a second is not even close. Now, I can increase my shutter speed to 1/2000th of a second but of course my shot becomes underexposed so I would either have to increase my ISO or I’m going to have to break my own rule and adjust my depth of field. I don’t want to do either,
that’s the trouble. I mean, yeah, I could add in an extra light, one more light, the same of
that, would give me one more stop of illumination. I’m going to choose the ISO and I’ll go for the ISO and have a grainy shot with depth of field rather than a less grainy
shot with less depth of field. Let’s try that. Test shot. Yeah, that works fine. Here we
go. OK, and that is better. That is better, but
it’s nowhere near as sharp as the flash. The Pen-F goes up to 1/8,000th of a second but to get that I need to lose two stops of depth of field. That’s going to bring me
back to F8, 1/8000th of a second, 3,200 ISO and of course I can put this in
continuous shooting as well because I’m using constant light, I don’t have to
worry about flash recycling. OK, here we go. Clean the lens, because the lens will get
filthy dirty, and very, very damp and does show. Well, you know what, if I look beyond the shallow depth of field and the more noisy image, that did really well. In fact, that actually did far
better than I thought it was going to. That’s not bad. So with everything packed away I’ve looked at the images and I’ve got some conclusions. Let’s start with the really obvious
stuff. The torch 10 watt LED flashlight is a brilliant flashlight but there’s nowhere near enough light to illuminate fast-moving subjects. That was a fail. The other end
of the scale, the Streaklight 360 just blew everything else out of the water. By
far the best light here, short, fast duration, crisp, wonderful shots. Things that did surprise me, the other two lights. The Speedlite did really well. OK, I had
to increase my ISO a bit but it was able to keep up with the continuous shooting
from the camera and I still have that crispness that flash gives me. The floor light, the continuous lights, the four fluorescent bulbs in here, they did
better than I thought. Now, I knew I’d have to compromise and sure enough more ISO, shallower depth of field, nowhere near as crisp as flash, but at a push yes you can
light this stuff with continuous light. Is it as good as flash? No its not, not even
close, but if that’s your only light source you can make that work. Now, if
want to see more videos from myself and the other amazing presenters right here on
AdoramaTV, you know what you got to do? You’ve got to click on the subscribe button. See, I found a use for the torch! I’m
Gavin Hoey thanks for watching. Subscribe!

100 Replies to “Freezing Water, Flash vs Continuous Light: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey”

  1. woow it ws amazing. It actually did cleared out lot of my Confusions. Thank you so much Gavin sir. Thanx Adorama tv

  2. Without a doubt, I find you to be one of the most innovative photographers I have found on YouTube. Your ideas ad vision is .. well .. unparallelled. I thank you for yet another outstanding video and tips.

  3. The only downside to your videos Gavin is that they don't come out fast enough, I'd love to see more videos from you sir. Awesome work!

  4. Very nice, informative video Gavin. I pretty much new the flashes would be better but was surprised about the constant light

  5. Lol 😁 great clip Gavin, you seemed really pleased with your subscribe light 💡 💡 💙 excellent stuff!

  6. Amazing! Gavin, please visit my web page for a review from you — — Great work, thank you.

  7. Hey Gavin, you're always so much fun to watch. You are a Master Photographer and a great teacher because you make it fun! I've been in the biz for 30 years, and you still are teaching cool new stuff.

    Adorama should be proud that you so these lessons for all of us!


  8. i would love to see a tutorial vid about how you came to the final edit of the image. it's bloody awesome 🙂

  9. hi Sir,
    thanks alot for sharing amazing tips with us.
    i need to know what is that blue thing holding blub on tile ?


  10. Hello Gavin, would a studio flash that puts out 1/2000 second flash duration at full power work just as well to freeze the water and droplets?

  11. gavin,i would like to know if streaklight flash could work for boudoir and nude photography,thank you

  12. I appreciate that he's showing his process. Sometimes videos just show the final result and I have no idea how they got to those settings.

  13. Great video, I will like to know if I can use a Rosco Roscolux Tough White Diffusion, 20"x24" Sheet of Light Diffusing Material from ADORAMA SKU# RO116 as the background tracing paper ?

    here's the link:

    Thank you!

  14. So for continues lighting you turn your house lights off? but why not on the flash too? Also surly if the lumin value is the same hitting the bulb surly you would get the same exposure between flash and continues.

  15. It's pretty obvious the flash would win in your test because your flash lights are far brighter than the static lights. For a true comparison you need the output of both kinds of lights to be the same.

  16. I've been looking through the comments below bit can't see anyone asking why was your water blue and what did you do to it to make it blue?

  17. Gavin, please check out my attempt at this type of shot

    would be interested to see what you think mate


  18. I'm not sure I understood this correctly because you said the idea was to only use one source of light, however, this wasn't the case for the flash segment of the experiment. If the studio lights were on for the continuous light section also – would this not have been a way to increase shutter speed, negating under exposure? I'm not sure if I've missed something, as I am an almost complete newbie at this! Loving the videos though..I can see flashes and I are gonna be good friends!

  19. G'day Gavin, I'm only starting out in using my Canon 7D. I've only just come across your Vid's and want to say thanks so much for giving good, clean and precise information in subjects that are so useful. Hope to see you back again here and in the future being able to upload some pics and get good praise or criticism of what I'm doing right or wrong with taking my pics. Cheers, Kev

  20. Hi, Great Video as always. Gavin you are just amazing!. I want to try that. Please tell how did you fix the bulb straight. Also, I want to learn more about flash duration. Do we have videos on that as well? I want to know these things:

    1) Why is the flash duration very short on minimum power like 1/128?
    2) How can I know/measure the flash duration of a studio strobe or a Speedlight with some digital instrument?
    3) How do we find the power equivalent of a strobe to a Speedlight? for ex: on what power a Speedlight should be set to be equal to 1/2 power of a 400 ws strobe?

    Many thanks,

  21. you didn't turn off all your ambient light for your flash tests. Yet you did for your continuous light tests. Those are some hefty lights. FAIL

  22. Why does the water have a blue tone? is it the light, the water or the blue material holding the bulb that gives the stream a blue color?

  23. Gavin you are awesome about photography i have a small advice that is
    Your very quick and speed so plzz say slowly by saying slowly we can understand some what better

  24. Very intresting videos keep it up….and i have to mention that inside of the light bulb at 10.47 looks like a …well..haha not going to write it😉

  25. thank you very much Adorama…. I tried this at home.
    these are not perfect but i think these are good fir the first time.

  26. Is a flash really that powerful, that his continious videolight could not compare with it ? Does somby know the different lumen of the light sources in the video?

  27. 4:40
    How does making flash power from 1/16 to 1/32 make the water splash less blurry?
    I might have understood flash wrongly for a long time. I thought these number is only for Flash brightness (power).

  28. hi there,

    I really love the way you deliver and teach. I followed your tutorial and could come up with, not as good as yours, some shots I would like to show you…

    please see it sir

  29. The Flashpoint R1 Flashpoint can controls many receivers, but have to buy how many receivers? One more light receiver? Thank!

  30. I think, Gary, that if you put the diffusion panel half, even quarter of the distance from the subject that you would have done better with the continuous lighting. Maybe you could have had the light closer to the diffusion panel too.

  31. Does the water have any other substance? I've tried with pure water and it splashes a lot, so freeze water doesn't look that nice :S thank you!

  32. Thank you very much .. I need your help: how to freeze a "very clear real rain droplets" fall in outdoor

  33. shouldn't you have turned off your extra lights when you were testing the flash too? or left the lights on while you used the continuous lights to make the test fair?

  34. didnt knew the weaker the flash the shorter the duration is. I always thought it would be more powerful

  35. Great photo but when it came to the comparison you compared professional flash sytems to cheap rubbish video lights. Not a fair comparison. Just saying.

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