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High-Speed Photography: Capturing Motion

Lesson 2 of 15

T1 and T5 Flash Duration

Clay Patrick McBride

High-Speed Photography: Capturing Motion

Clay Patrick McBride

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Lesson Info

2. T1 and T5 Flash Duration

Lesson Info

T1 and T5 Flash Duration

This is, it's a simple graph right. This is the output of the flash, meaning how strong it is. If it's at full power, if it's at minimum power. And this is amount of time. So even though it's just an explosion of light, right, flash, it's still happening over a sense of time. Like it still takes some time for that flash to come all the way up and to disappear. So how quick that happens is measured in these two times. Everybody wants to give you this time, the T5. Why? Because it's slightly exaggerated, right. It's at 50%. And it's exaggerated. But this is how flash duration is measured. T1 is the more accurate time, because it's when that curve falls completely off; right, when it disappears. So this is the determining factor in flash duration, and how it's measured. Some flashes are better than others. We'll think about this; we'll look at it. One thing that's very important is even on your speedlight, speedlight sometimes have a great flash duration. The power of your flash, at full ...

power. My flash duration looks like it's gonna be somewhere between 1,000th and 500th of a second, so I don't know, what is that 750, right? Is that 750? Yeah, 1/750, right. At minimum power, 164, I'm at 1/4000. There's a big difference, there's a relationship between the power and the intensity of where your flash is set and how quick the flash duration's gonna be. Any questions on that? Getting it? It's pretty simple, right? Usually, not all cases, the lower... The lower the setting on your flash the quicker the flash duration. There are some exceptions. Like Elinchrom makes some great units. Sports Packs they're actually gonna work in the opposite way. So there's gear that's set up for you in whatever way you want. But what you want to look for with whatever strobe you're investigating, is a graph like this that's just gonna walk you through. And they usually have specs on them. You can usually dig up the specs somewhere. So this is the situation we're gonna work in in our first setup today. Under this set of circumstances, we're gonna use strobe in a dark studio with very little to no ambient light. Lights off in the studio. We're gonna let go of this idea that your shutter speed is freezing the action. Pop that idea from your head. Remove shutter speed. Throw it out the window, gone. Our flash duration in bold type there is what's gonna freeze our motion. The faster the flash duration, the better the capture. This is the idea we're getting in. So we're gonna be in a dark studio. We'll talk about the process in a second. So these are just some comparisons. Just price point and stuff like that cuz people like, I use this very expensive gear. It's Profoto cuz it's top of the line. You get what you pay for period. You don't need this to take good pictures. I always say it's not the arrow it's the Indian. But here we have these Einsteins. Alien Bees kind of Paul C. Buff projects. You said you have some of them. Look what they have a great T1 flash duration. 1/13000. And look at the price point on them. Pretty fair $239, you know $500, so you can get a whole unit for under $1000. When you come up here to Profoto and Broncolor 12,000, 8,000 so you're actually killing it in the flash duration here. These aren't the units we're using today, this is an older Profoto. Look at the price point here: 13,000, you know under a thousand, 13,000. This is 15,000 for the Bron and you get an 8000th a second. Do your homework if you're interested in this sort of stuff. You don't have to pay top dollar to get what you need, if you're interested in this style of photography. And there's a lot of, you know, just research. Do your research before you go out and buy gear and invest in it, think about it. We're using this bad boy today. It's the new monolight from Profoto. It's the D2. It has an incredibly fast flash duration. That's why I've chosen it. You need to choose the right gear. It can shoot these crazy bursts too, like when it recycles. So this thing will recycle. (camera beeping) I can't even keep up with it. It's gonna recycle very quick. Recycle is the amount of time it takes for the batteries to fill it up again so it can dump the electricity. And we're gonna use this other, okay, so this is what I'm saying you need to find on your particular unit to do high speed photography. Here we have the Energy scale. From one to 10, 10 being the most powerful, one being the least. And at 10 you can see I can get 1/1600th of a second but down here minimum I can get 1/50000th of a second. So there's that relationship again. I'm gonna try to work here in this sweet spot today. Right around here, right around 1/1800th of a second. Is that, yeah, okay. These numbers freak me out. Or 1/22000. So I'm gonna work right in here today to really freeze action. And it also has this freeze mode which is even gonna cut that bell curve off we had, a little bit quicker, at the expense of some color temperature. But we can correct that. So this is what you wanna find. My first illustration we're gonna look at, we're just gonna look at what this looks like and what this looks like. I'm gonna shoot it at full power at 1/1600th and then one at 50,000th. We're gonna compare them and just see how much better the splash looks at those two exposures. Normal modes are gonna give you better color temperature, but a little bit slower of a flash duration. The other thing we're gonna use is this gizmo from Miops. It's a triggering system. So this will hook up to your camera and it can do many things. It has both a sound trigger and a laser trigger built into it. So this thing is about a couple hundred bucks. It just helping me work this sort of technology. I don't know that I can do some of these techniques without it. It'll also shoot lightning. Like if you're out there and you wanna shoot lightning. It syncs to your camera, will detect the lightning. Have you heard of these things before? Okay, I've never heard of them before. It has crazy time lapses that maybe your camera didn't have available. Like if you wanna do certain amount of time or program a time lapse, it has an app for it. Yeah, a bit of technology we'll be using. Everyone of these is different, it's crazy. So, I don't know. This is just the magic that I'm talking about.

Class Description

The ability to freeze a moment of time can show power, emotion and detail. Learn how to utilize high speed flash duration to create powerful images in a fraction of a second. Through a variety of examples, Clay Patrick McBride will have you experimenting with your photography in a new way. He’ll explain:

  • High Speed Syncing techniques
  • T1 and T2 Flash Duration
  • How to capture the tiniest of details like water droplets or dust
  • Different trigger techniques depending on your unique setup



I enjoyed Clay's workshop, he is very methodical, and had clear simple explanations for the various shoots. I am excited to experiment with different lighting because he made it seem easy. As he mentioned "start small and make it bigger, bigger, bigger. Thanks!

joanne duncan

I agree with Alison, i think this could have been so much better. Too much tampering around on set, i like the small talk and the model talks, love his presence, very charismic, the only thing that kept me watching although i did fast forward some bits. just too slow and not much info.


Watched it live, I thought it had lots of great info. Hoping to buy it soon.