Location Portraits with HSS Flash: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey


In this video I’ll show you how standard flash compares to the high-speed sync flash when shooting portraits on location. Hello I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re watching AdoramaTV brought to you by Adorama the camera store that’s got everything for us photographers and today you join me on location because I’m going to tell you why high-speed sync might just be the best thing for your location portraits. Now my location today is the Gatwick Aviation Museum right next to Gatwick Airport, you may hear a few planes. A fantastic location, but even more fantastically I’ve got Kerry as my model and as you can see Kerry is all ready to go as an aviator which kind of fits in with the theme of this shoot. So my idea is really simple. I want to take the ambient light and under expose it by a stop, stop and a half, two stops to really get some drama from the sky and the background. Now in order to do that I can play with my three things of the exposure triangle my shutter speed, ISO and aperture. ISO really simple, the Olympus E-M1 Mark II has a native ISO of 200 that’s where I’ll be. The shutter speed, I’m going to use flash to light Kerry, so I would be with the flash sync speed of 1/250 of a second normally and that leaves me the aperture, so let’s see if we use those two settings what aperture I get and my camera is going to tell me correct exposure -2. It is currently at f/16. Now if I take a picture of Kerrie at f/16, 1/250, 200 ISO without the flash, not surprisingly, I get a darkish background and a very dark Kerrie, well that makes sense, so we’re going to light Kerrie with the flash. So let’s get the flash turned on. Let’s get a flash meter and we’ll see how much light actually reaches Kerrie. So I’m shooting at f/16. That’s how much light I need from this flash. Okay f/16 so the flash reads the same as the camera f/16, let’s take that shot and that works really well. Kerrie is correctly exposed by the flash. The background is how I want it but because we’re shooting with quite a small aperture I’m getting a lot of depth of field and that background is just too sharp. This is where high-speed sync really comes to the rescue. If you don’t want a really sharp background you need to have a different aperture number but I can’t go over 1/250 of a second unless you turn on high-speed sync. So let’s turn that on and now I can actually increase my shutter speed all the way up to 1/8000 of a second. Now that is five stops different, I can open up my aperture. Let’s go f/2.8. Now again I can actually take a shot at f/2.8 without flash 1/8000 of a second, so I’m still getting my underexposed background with those settings. I can turn the flash on but I can’t use the meter anymore. One of the downsides of high-speed sync is flash meters whether what I’ve got won’t work, so we need to do trial and error, so let’s turn on the flash and we’ll set it somewhere, lets go for about half power and we’ll test that and that looks just a little bit underexposed so I can increase the flash up to its full power and we’ll do one more shot and it looks fantastic! Nice light on Kerry, great-looking underexposed backgrounds but more importantly the background is soft and out-of-focus. So what’s going on? How can the flash suddenly go beyond the flash sync speed and what is that? So to understand that we need to look inside your camera. So inside your camera is a curtain that covers the sensor. When you press the shutter, that rises, exposes a sensor to the flash at the end of your shutter speed a second curtain shuts the sensor off to light and that’s 1/250 of a second or slower usually for the whole sensor to be exposed when the flash fires. If you go beyond that part of the sensor is covered by the second curtain when the flash fires, that’s where high speed sync comes in, because it pulses the light as the two curtains move across your sensor effectively filling in the sensor as the curtains go. It’s an incredibly complicated thing to understand but you don’t have to because it just works. So whilst this sounds absolutely fantastic and it is, there are some downsides you need to be aware of and the first one is, you lose power from your light. Which is why I’m using the Flashpoint Explore 600, which is a very powerful flash perfect for high speed sync on location. Next thing is all that flashing means that you will drain the battery quite quickly as well, so do make sure we have a fresh battery in there. Then there’s a fact that I can’t use my favorite flash meter with this it just doesn’t register the pulses as one single flash. There are meters out there that will this isn’t one of them and finally high-speed sync is unique to every camera manufacturer. So you need to make sure you get the right trigger and flash combination. So for example on my Olympus system, Micro Four Thirds system, I’m using the Flash point Zoom-Mini O, O for Olympus. There are other triggers for Canon and Nikon and Sony and so on, but make sure you get the right one for your system okay. That’s the basics. Let’s do a few shots like this and see what great pictures we can get. So Kerry are you ready? Okay lets take some pictures Well there we go. We got some great shots here at the Aviation Museum. Kerry did a wonderful job and the high-speed sync made all of the difference. Now remember high-speed sync isn’t your only options for doing this, you could use ND filters for example or do something obvious like come back when the light levels are less bright at the beginning and the end of the day. Now if you’ve enjoyed this video don’t forget to leave a comment below, but more importantly subscribe to AdoramaTV, you’ll get more videos from myself and the other amazing presenters, all you need to do click on that subscribe button I’m Gavin Hoey thanks for watching.

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