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Thread: Freeze action photography

  1. #1
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    Freeze action photography

    There is this new tutorial "Using Camera Shutter Speed Creatively" that shows a sample photo with matchsticks frozen in the air. I was trying to repeat it with no success. In my case, (I used colorful pills) they would come out blurry even when I managed to catch some in the air. I use Calumet Travelite 750 with a wireless trigger. The max I can get from this is 1/200 sec. Obviously that's not enough to catch up with gravity. I wonder how this could be done? No strobe takes you beyond 1/500 sec and in my view that still would be too slow. Any ideas?
    Thanks in advance.

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    Hello there ... and welcome.

    I don't think you posted an introduction in the 'New Member' thread so I never got the chance to welcome you earlier.

    You'll have seen that we tend to use proper names on CiC. You can go to Edit Profile and insert your proper name under 'Real Name'. Then people would know how to address you.

    I am very much a beginner in the field of using flash. But as you'll see from the calculator Sean included in the tutorial you refer to, the figures that come out are well above the 'normal' sync speeds of our cameras. So, you are needing to think about high-speed sync. I'm not sure that your statement that no strobe can take you beyond 1/500 is correct. Perhaps the strobe experts can come in and guide both of us.

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    hey
    I tried to do some research to find something that could help,
    and i came across: http://www.diyphotography.net/diy_hi...graphy_at_home

    I hope this helps you!

    Andy

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    Hi there,

    Flashes & cameras can generally operate in 2 modes - the first "normal" mode limits the shutter speed to something typically around 1/200th; the second (high-speed-sync) typically lets you go up to 1/4000th or 1/8000th. For it to work though, you need a flash capable of HSS and it either has to be mounted on-camera, or connected via a trigger that supports it (and not many apart from the new PocketWizard TT1 / TT5 do).

    Freeze action photography

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    This explains it. Thank you very much.

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    Colin,
    how do I find the high-speed-sync on the camera? Say, a Canon DSLR? Will a built-in flash or a Speedlite do it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi there,

    Flashes & cameras can generally operate in 2 modes - the first "normal" mode limits the shutter speed to something typically around 1/200th; the second (high-speed-sync) typically lets you go up to 1/4000th or 1/8000th. For it to work though, you need a flash capable of HSS and it either has to be mounted on-camera, or connected via a trigger that supports it (and not many apart from the new PocketWizard TT1 / TT5 do).

    Freeze action photography

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    Quote Originally Posted by STKPhotoLA View Post
    Colin,
    how do I find the high-speed-sync on the camera? Say, a Canon DSLR? Will a built-in flash or a Speedlite do it?
    Hi Saul,

    What model camera and flash do you have?

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    At the back of the Canon 430exII or 580exII speedlite where the LCD display is, there is an button with a lightning and an "H" above it. Just press this button and when the icon appears on the LCD, you are on high speed synch and can shoot even as fast as 1/8000th.

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    Quote Originally Posted by meltimtiman View Post
    At the back of the Canon 430exII or 580exII speedlite, there is an button with a lightning and an "H" above it. Just press this button and when the icon appears on the LCD, you are on high speed synch and can shoot even as fast as 1/8000th.
    Should be mentioned in the manual too

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    Oh, sorry Colin.

    Saul, its on page 16 of the Canon 430EXII manual.


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    Re: Freeze action photography

    I have 50D. Don't remember the flash model though. I have only little use of it, mostly work with strobes in the studio. But I will check it at home tonight. Thank you all very much.

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    The thing to remember is that the strobe duration is in the range of 1/1000 second. The shutter speed has no effect on freezing action, if the ambient light is kept quite low. Just make sure the shutter stays open long enough that the strobe fires after the shutter is fully open.

    When I was playing with this type stuff, long ago, I would set the camera to several shutter stops above (faster) what the ambient light claimed it wanted and let the strobe do its thing. Basically yo are telling the camera to open up and get out of the way, while the strobe actually takes the picture. I have even gone so far as to set up the camera for the shot, locked open the shutter and stepped off to one side to manually trigger the flash.

    Pops

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    Quote Originally Posted by PopsPhotos View Post
    The thing to remember is that the strobe duration is in the range of 1/1000 second. The shutter speed has no effect on freezing action, if the ambient light is kept quite low. Just make sure the shutter stays open long enough that the strobe fires after the shutter is fully open.

    When I was playing with this type stuff, long ago, I would set the camera to several shutter stops above (faster) what the ambient light claimed it wanted and let the strobe do its thing. Basically yo are telling the camera to open up and get out of the way, while the strobe actually takes the picture. I have even gone so far as to set up the camera for the shot, locked open the shutter and stepped off to one side to manually trigger the flash.

    Pops
    +1 for Pops.

    Ambient light low, long shutter time, use regular flash, not high-speed sync, because high-speed sync actually uses a rapid-fire sustained, longer flash sequence.

    What you want to do is sort of like taking fireworks shots. You should get matchsticks frozen in air and a black background. The trick will be getting your flash just far enough away so the matches are not overexposed.

    You might try adding a little more ambient light and then use second-curtain flash to try and get trails of movement behind the matchsticks, in case just getting the pure frozen shot doesn't drive you completely insane and you want to finish the job.
    Last edited by Gingerbaker; 11th February 2011 at 05:42 AM.

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Gingerbaker View Post
    +1 for Pops.
    use regular flash, not high-speed sync, because high-speed sync actually uses a rapid-fire sustained, longer flash sequence.
    It doesn't matter that the flash sequence is longer because it then effectively gets cut off by the shutter closing just like ambient light.

    My "bad hair day" example above was 1/1000th using HSS.

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    There is more than one way to skin a cat.

    You can get into trouble using high-speed sync to capture objects that are spinning. At anything over 1/250th- 1/500th of a second, both curtains are coming down simultaneously, so what is being exposed is actually a narrow strip of light across the sensor, which moves down from top to bottom in landscape mode. Spinning objects can make multiple appearances or appear bent depending on their place in the frame and whether they are spinning with or against the shutter curtain slit downward direction. (I'm not saying this would necessarily be a problem with bouncing matchsticks)

    The cool thing about using Pop's scenario is that you have more flexibility over ambient light, as well as the effective shutter speed, because you can use your flash in manual mode, which will give much higher effective shutter speeds (even thought he shutter is actually open longer) and no shutter curtain distortions. With manual flash, the output of the flash is lowered by dropping the actual duration of the flash. So, lowered outputs make the strobe duration much shorter. At full power, the duration is about 1/800 of a second. It can get significantly shorter at lower outputs (approximations):

    1/16 power = 1/15,000 second

    1/32 power = 1/19,000 second

    1/64 power = 1/31,000 second

    1/128 power = 1/35,000 second

    Both methods will work, but if you want a single strobe illumination then a longer shutter exposure, regular sync mode with low-power manual flash will work well.

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    Re: Freeze action photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Gingerbaker View Post
    You can get into trouble using high-speed sync to capture objects that are spinning. At anything over 1/250th- 1/500th of a second, both curtains are coming down simultaneously, so what is being exposed is actually a narrow strip of light across the sensor, which moves down from top to bottom in landscape mode. Spinning objects can make multiple appearances or appear bent depending on their place in the frame and whether they are spinning with or against the shutter curtain slit downward direction. (I'm not saying this would necessarily be a problem with bouncing matchsticks)
    It's called "Focal Plane Distortion". It isn't related to flash photography per sec (it's simply a characteristic of focal plane shutters). In reality it's seldom an issue; I've frozen aircraft pops at "full noise" and still not had a hint of it.

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