Go Slow, Young Man (Or Woman)

When you use a flash, the shutter speed is not that important. Since the flash fires all its power in 1/1000th sec or less, it is not important whether your shutter speed is 1/200th second, or 1/100th, or 1/4 second. Only the ambient light will be affected; not the flash part.

Take this, from a Goldcorp goldmine I shot earlier this year in Timmins, Ontario:

3200 ISO, f/4, and 1/4 second. Handheld.

Why so long? Because I wanted the light at the end of the tunnel to look like, well, the light at the end of the tunnel. And I needed f/4 for depth of field, hence 3200 ISO and 1/4 second.

But Michael, things will be blurry!

Not if they are lit by the flash. 1/1000th sec is 1/1000th sec! And if they are also lit by a little ambient light, then a little ghosting will appear, mainly in the moving parts:

But that is still better than not having any background light. So I shot the goldmine at slow shutter speed, and you should feel free to try the same. Here I did it to capture the hard hat lights:

Use a wider lens, and go slow, even very slow, any time you are using flash and it’s mainly flash lighting the important bits!


2 thoughts on “Go Slow, Young Man (Or Woman)

  1. If you want to freeze water drops or something similar, it works better to use sync speed or a little slower, relying on the flash to stop motion, than to use a higher speed and High Speed Sync. Using High Speed Sync gives blur because of the multiple flashes.

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