In the eye of the…

Take a day outside. You want to shoot a snap of a pretty model.

If you are Uncle Fred, you shoot in the “AUTO” mode. Or in Program, or even in Aperture mode, with a large aperture (low “F”-number), to blur out the background. OK, here we go. SNAP:

But because you read, you realise that background should be darker. So then you shoot again, after setting exposure compensation down two stops (-2). That gives you 1/1000th second, and the image looks like this:

Mmm. So now you need to turn on the flash (and again, you know this because you are a Frequent Reader here).

So then you do this – and you get this:

Oh. That’s right. The flash sync speed is 1/200th second, so your camera will not allow the 1/1000th second shutter speed you need. So the image is overexposed, at 1/200th second.

OK-  so now you use Fast Flash (“High Speed Flash”, on Canon, and “Auto FP Flash” on Nikon). And you move close, very close – or you have insufficient power.

That gives you this:


But could that shadow be softer? Yes. So you put a Honl Photo softbox on the flash – yes, you can use a softbox like this on the on-camera flash – and now (after once again ascertaining you are close enough – even closer now, since the softbox loses some light too), you have the image you were after in the first place:

Compare this excellent image with the snapshot image at the top and you see why it pays to know flash techniques, and you see why I am passionate in teaching them.


2 thoughts on “In the eye of the…

  1. Michael,

    How would you compensate for the over exposure from the flash at 1/200 if you do not have the ability to use the “high speed flash”?

    • It is not the overexposure from the flash – it is from the background, more than the flash. SO the only way to do it is:

      – Add a neutral density filter to cut the sunlight, to the point that 1/200th is what you need rather than 1/1000th.
      – Now use a VERY powerful flash. It needs to be “as powerful as the sun”, basically.

      Also – some cameras, like my 1D MkIV, can go to 1/300th second… every little bit helps.

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