HSS Flash in the Studio: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey


In this video I’ll show you how to combine high-speed sync flash, and wide open apertures to create amazing photos in your small home studio… Hello I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re watching Adorama TV brought to you by Adorama the camera store that’s got everything for us photographers… In my previous video I looked at flash sync speed in my small home studio… well today I’m gonna do high-speed sync flash in my small home studio. Now there’s really in my mind two reasons to use high-speed sync flash… the first one is if you want to combine the ambient light with flash while photographing a fast-moving subject, and the second one is the one we’re gonna do in here, which is where you want to remove ambient light while using flash, but shooting with a really wide aperture lens. Now for that to make a bit more sense let’s get a model in. Let’s get a light set… but let’s not use it yet and let’s get shooting. So to help me out today I’ve got the amazing Roger… Roger is gonna be the model for this, and before I get into high-speed sync flash, I’m gonna take a picture at my normal flash settings. So I’m using my Olympus camera with a f/1.2 lens and the whole purpose of having a f/1.2 lens is to shoot at that really wide aperture for a shallower depth of field, so I’ve doubled in 1.2 as my aperture, 250th of a second, my flash sync speed… ISO 200 the native ISO for my Olympus camera… I’m gonna take a picture without flash just to see what I get. Okay Roger, here we go so… at those settings and without flash I can still see Roger, which means the ambient light and ambient light color is going to combine with the flash and potentially that could ruin my picture. So what I want to do is get control of the light by getting rid of the ambient light in the room. Now I could do that really easily by turning off the room lights, but that has a few problems, the first one being I wouldn’t be able to focus and you wouldn’t be able to see the video, and of course I could change my camera settings, but one of the reasons we can see Roger in this image is because I have such a wide open aperture. If I was to close that down, Roger would disappear, but of course I’d lose the
whole reason four using this particular lens, that’s where high-speed sync flash comes in to save the day. So what I’m looking at is the shutter speed, now normally I’m working at my flash sync speed, 250th of a second for me, high-speed sync flash means I can go past that limitation, but how fast should I go, well the only way to find out for sure is to take some test pictures so let’s do that. I’m going to change my shutter speed to 500th of a second, and take basically the same shot of Roger, and at that setting well I can still see Roger, he’s a little bit darker, but he’s definitely there. Let’s change it again to a 1,000th of a second, take the same shot once more, and Roger is almost gone. I can still see him a little bit so let’s try two thousandths of a second, and that setting… well there’s a few hotspots. I can live with those but basically Roger has disappeared, and that’s what I’m looking for, no flash no picture, from that point I can then add in my own lights, which will be under my control… so I’m controlling the lighting, I’m controlling the colors, it’s just a much better place to work in your small home studio. So let’s add some flash. When I put the trigger on… it actually limits my camera to a shutter speed of 250of a second… that’s the flash sync speed for my Olympus camera… your mileage may vary…. the fastest shutter speed I can go with normal flash, but I need to shoot at 2000th of a second to get to those sorts of shutter speeds… I press the sync button or high-speed sync button on the trigger, and that’s it now. I can choose 2000th of a second and shoot away, so I’m using the flashpoint Explorer 400, and the flashpoint R2 Pro trigger… it’s really important that the trigger and the flash work together as a high-speed sync system. Let’s just take a test picture, see what we get, well it does work but it’s a little bit too bright. Now normally I would reach for my flash meter, and start taking some meter readings, but one of the downsides of high-speed sync is unless you have a very specific flash meter, you can’t meter it, sadly my trusty flash meter doesn’t do the job, but trial and error is perfectly fine. So if that’s too bright, I can just turn the flash down in power, take another shot and that looks fantastic, really nice lighting, nice shallow depth-of-field, and that looks really good, high-speed sync works by effectively strobing the flash as the shutter mechanism passes across the sensor. Now in reality it’s a bit more complicated than this, but it’s remarkably easy to use. Okay so I think everything is set technically… Let’s actually take some photographs… so Roger are you ready? let’s do the shoot. Here we go… want to lift the sword up… yeah, pop it on your shoulder. Alright go for it, So is it where you get to be a little more kind of aggressive.. Okay success give me some smoke… okay well that was fantastic fun, and having Seth here doing the smoke absolute bonus for me! So one more thing you need to know about high speed sync and it is a little gotcha… make sure you do the first bit… about setting the shutter speed… that wasn’t there just to demonstrate how it works… it’s part of the process, because if you change your shutter speed with high speed sync flash, you change the output of the flash… that’s just how it works. Now if you’ve enjoyed this video and well you got a question, leave me a comment below. Click on the bell icon to get regular notifications of all the brand new videos right here on Adorama TV and of course click on that subscribe button. I’m Gavin Hoey thanks for watching.

100 Replies to “HSS Flash in the Studio: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey”

  1. Mr Gavin Hoey, I want to watch videos more often than you. Your work is extraordinarily beautiful. More videos please .. thanks

  2. What a nice outcome from a couple of simple props and stylistic decisions. Yeah, love that you've mentioned the HSS 'gotcha' kind of unavoidable property that not many photographers realize – that if your flash output remains set constant (or say, at the max power), the faster your shutter speed, the lower the effect of the flash in HSS mode – kind of just how constant or natural lights work, but for different reasons.

  3. Seth Miranda = Smoke 💨 Man 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👏🏼

    Great video. HSS with all its glory is awesome, but must be used with caution.

  4. Wow.. Seth sure does get around 🙂 Great video Gavin, I love working with HSS. Lots to tinker with in that area. Thanks for the video

  5. Watching your magic with a camera a flash Gavin continues to show… no one has an excuse why they cannot create great images as you do this in a studio the size of a small garage with a low ceiling! Doesn't hurt to have Roger model for this theme, he was fantastic 🙂

  6. Seth on the might mix + fog machine. Which light was behind Roger? That mystery backdrop needs to find its way to my Adorama cart.

  7. great to see your vids again ………please make more I post them in my LIGHT STALKERS PHOTOGRAPHY GROUP page on FACEBOOK

  8. This one and all your other tutorials are amazing and I must admit I go over them in my head while driving my car or just day dreaming.

  9. What a fun video.
    I’ve never used high speed sync in my studio before, but you have inspired me to try it out.
    Thanks for all the great content you share.

  10. Others would have explained in a boring way and maybe down a mathematical formula. But you just showed the progress and explained it along the way in an easy to understand way. Great job as usual, thank you very much!

  11. I’ve read that HSS shortens the lifespan of the flash bulb. I’m using a couple of speed lights and I have know idea what the life span is normally, so is this something to care about in practice?

  12. Hey Gavin, love your videos. Very creative and inspiring. I've a question on this video.
    Why/how do you get motion blur even at 1/2000s?

  13. Hey Gavin, you are good, what I like is that you are not going with long explanations about the equipment, settings and so on, you are going straight to the point.

  14. Thank you Gavin for another inspiring video. But I must say that the smoke machine (just like a camera) is only a tool. It is the person who operates the machine that is most important. Great smoke, Seth.

  15. Good tutorial thank you, but I'm lost…why use a 1.2 aperture for a shot like this where everything is in focus? Or was this just for the sake of demonstrating hss?

    I would think this would be more practical if you were doing a shallow dof portrait or such.

  16. I watch this video a second time and noticed that you put a strobe behind the subject to illuminate the smoke. I missed that the first time I watched it.

  17. Great set of teeth on Roger. Those alone looked made him look dangerous. I imagine these shots as being super as the advertising for a video game, yes/no?
    For information, the advice about setting the shutter speed was on its own worth watching this demonstration.

  18. Thanks for another great vid Gavin! 👍🏻
    And Seth @lastxwitness – what a cameo 👏🏻
    Not only are you the master of the Mighty Mixer, you also seem to have tamed the infamous smoke machine 😂😂😂

  19. Seth was good to see and awesome with the smoke machine.
    Gavin Awesome like always.
    Question Do you like the M4/3 camera from Olympus? I want to switch to a smaller and lighter camera Vs my older DSLR.
    It seems like every other mirrorless camera is getting bigger and heavier and moving to full-frame sensors than in turn equals heavier and bigger lenses. 
    Olympus has been in the mirrorless cameras longer than Sony.

  20. Nice tutorial, but just confused on why you would ever want to use such a wide aperture in the studio if you don't want any ambient light in the shot. I could understand if you took HSS out of the equation and were using constant lighting.

  21. Gavin is the king of tutorials. Easy to understand, entertaining, professional and with basically acquireable equipment. Thanks Sr.

  22. Great video!
    As I understand you choose a wide aperture for the effect of the blurry background.
    To avoide any daylight or studio light you choose high speed sync on your flash. Why do you choose this method over
    Using an ND-Filter and be able to use your light meter in normal flash sync. Is there any reason for one or another method.
    Thank you for your great content and inspiring work.
    Best regards
    Florian.

  23. gorgeous ! super tuto. i noticed flash behind to lighten smoke and your HSS/2nd group settings for it in your answers below !

  24. Gavin, thank you so much for this video! I recently purchased the Flashpoint 600 TTL, and during a studio photo shoot I opened up to f2.0 and was stunned by the depth of field I was getting with HSS. But I was surprised by the warm colors I was getting. Now I understand, THANKS!!!!!!!!

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