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Shoot: Freeze Action

Lesson 12 from: Introduction to Flash for Children and Family Images

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

12. Shoot: Freeze Action

Lesson Info

Shoot: Freeze Action

Next thing that I wanna show is how to do action, how to freeze action. So remember earlier today I was asking you if you could jump for me, and you did such a good job jumping? That's what I wanna show y'all how to do. So here's the thought process for that. So I think for this, if you want to, you can hang out with Dad for one second, okay? Go hang out with Daddy, and then I'm gonna talk through what I'm gonna set up. The goal with freezing action is to not have any motion blur, 'kay? Sometimes a little motion blur is good, but a lot of motion blur can lead to a photo that doesn't quite look right. And so what I'm after is maybe just a tiny bit of blur, but mostly (snapping) frozen. I'm gonna have her jump and if you're a sports photographer, you know that normally you're gonna set your camera for a continuous high frame rate, right? If you're shooting soccer or football, you're gonna be like da, da, da, da, da, da, da, trying to get those shots. Oh my, I'm sorry to say, but in the s...

tudio, you can't do that. You get one shot with these little flashes. So you have to time everything right. With an older kid, you can synchronize the whole thing. Ready, set, jump, click. The younger kid, you're just gonna have to try and make it work. So, here, there's a lot of stuff going on. You're thinking shutter speed, you're thinking flash power, you're thinking closeness to the flash, you're thinking timing, and then you have to wait for your beep, you have to wait for your flash to regenerate before you can take your next one. So it can take a lot trial and error to pull this thing off. So I'm gonna have her, we already kinda practiced some moves today, so I'm gonna have her do some jumping, and we'll see if she gets tired, but she's got a lot of strength and energy for this. Just from the audience, what would you guys like to see? A black background, a white background, gray background, do you care? No, no preference? White? White. Alright, first one gets the chocolate bar. White, I have no idea what that even meant, but ... Alright, we're gonna go with white. Excellent, now, for this, she is, she could be anywhere. I mean, she could be over here, she could be over here, she could be back here. So I need to start to start thinking about a larger light source. If I try to light this with a beauty dish or a small umbrella, I'm gonna miss her. If she's over here on the smaller light source, then she's totally out of frame, or out of lighting. So I'm not gonna use a softbox for this, I'm gonna use the big honkin' umbrella back here. And that's a technical term, big honkin'. Alright, pull my flash out, there we go. Remember not to step on it. 'Kay, and we're going with the white background, and when you choose a white background, a lot of times the reason why you choose white is because you want it to look white. Otherwise, it's gonna come out gray. So that, I mean, I generally bias my lighting a little bit closer, so that a lot of light spills onto that backdrop. Oops, and I don't have my little plastic foot, so I have to go grab that, and my diffusion dome, so I'll hold still so the detail camera can see it. So I'm gonna put this diffusion dome on the front, and that's gonna cause light to go all around the inside of the flash, and then I've got this little plastic foot that this is going to slide into, and these normally ship for free with your flash when you buy them. If they don't, you can find these on Amazon and eBay, they're just a few dollars. I recommend having a couple of these. You can sit them on the floor, you can sit them on your lighting equipment. Great little tool, very, very useful in the studio. So then I'm going to screw that down onto the stud on my umbrella bracket here on the top. And now I'll put my flash on there, lock it into place. Bingo, do a quick little test. And what I'm looking at here when I do this test is I'm just watching the spread of light around inside the umbrella, looking low, looking high, just kinda making sure that light actually spreads all the way around inside of here, and it does, so I am happy about that. Now before she comes on scene, I'm just gonna do a quick, little light meter check, realizing that she could be anywhere from here to here, and that's a lot of change, so this is just gonna be approximate. Thing fires up, good thing it has a short boot cycle. And we're about f/2.8. Oh, f/2.8, f/2.8, well, what happened? So before we were like f/5.6, and now I'm farther away, and the light's going into a bigger surface, so there's less light on the scene. Because there's less light on the scene, I have to add, or open up my aperture to allow more light into the camera. Does that make sense? Well, what is the problem that shooting f/ with a kid running forward and backward? Focus, depth of field. Okay, now you can start to see what's going through my mind. I gotta increase my ISO so I can get more depth of field, more aperture. So I'm gonna do a few things here. I'm gonna increase my ISO for sure. I'm gonna go up to 400, and then I'm also gonna increase the power of my flash up to half power. So I usually don't like to shoot at full power because it takes a long time for the flash to recycle. And since we're doing an action photo with Action Jackson over there, we need it to recycle as fast as we possibly can. So there's half power, and I'm gonna go to ISO on this, and I will take a meter reading here, actually down here where she's gonna be. And now we're at f/8, good. So I made two adjustments: flash power up, and ISO up on the camera. Now I have to plug all this into my camera, so let's go do that. That's f/8, ISO 400, and 1/250 of a second. So, oh, hey, I'm already at f/8. I'm at ISO 200, so I'm gonna increase that, push the ISO button, go up to 400. And given our knowledge at this point that that light meter tends to underexpose by about a stop, or make me overexposed, I'm gonna actually go up to around f, maybe 10. Em, are you ready? Alright, let's do this together. You're gonna do a wonderful jump for us, and let me show you where you're gonna stand. You're gonna come over here, and this whole area, Emily, Em, my niece's name is Emily, so when I say Em, I think that you're my niece, but you're not my niece. You're gonna basically be right in this area here. And so I don't have it taped out on the floor, but what I want you to do, if you can, is not get too close here, nor come too close up to here. Just kind of stay in this area here. Maybe like right there. Alright, do a quick test jump for me. Yes, perfect! And our goal is to see if we can catch you in the air, okay? But before you jump, I'm gonna do one test shot, okay? I have an 85mm lens here, which means I have to be kind of far away. I should probably swap out to the 24 to 70, we'll see. Oh, I moved that. I'm thinking about exposure, gotta be careful. Okay, I'm gonna get down nice and low. And then I'm just gonna do a test shot. (camera shutter clicks) And let's look in the computer. You can stay where you're at, we're gonna look at the computer. (humming) Okay, looks like the exposure is good. Pretty close. And I'm all of a sudden realizing that I probably have a lens that's too long, but we're gonna just do a quick check. Alright, how would you like to jump? You wanna jump with your arms out, or your arms straight up? My arms straight up. Arms straight up, okay. So we're gonna have to work closely together, okay? So we'll go one, two, three, jump, like that, alright? 'Kay, one, two, three, jump! (camera shutter clicks) Cool, nice! So you notice I waited, even though I knew what I wanted to do in my mind, her timing was a little bit different than mine. Oh, cool, do you wanna see? You can come over here and look real quick. See, I like that, that looks pretty good. Let's do another one, and this time I'm gonna back up even farther, so I can get your feet in there, okay? So head on back. (footsteps thudding) You know right where to go. 'Kay, go that way a little bit. Not too much, come forward. Here, I know what, maybe I'll just come over there and position you myself, 'cause sometimes that's easier to do. Okay, right there, okay, excellent. So we're gonna take another shot just like this, and then we're gonna go zoom in really tight to see if we got you in focus. Okay, can you take a tiny little step that way? That's a big step, go back that way a little bit. Right there, yes! Alright, we are ready, one, two, three, jump! (camera shutter clicks) Nice. And when that beeps, tell me when it beeps. Waiting for the beep, (flash beeps) There, it beeped. We're gonna do another one, and this one, arms up in the air, okay? One, two, three, jump! (camera shutter clicks) Nice! And the next one, we're gonna get as high and as big as you possibly can, okay? Okay. 'Cause that one's, actually, that's pretty good. I like it, it's a little overexposed, though. I mean, what am I doing? I'm gonna reduce my ISO a little bit, go down to ISO 250. As big as you can, one, two, three, go! (camera shutter clicks) Yes, nailed it! Alright, let's come over, you can come over here if you'd like. Let's look at these photos. You wanna hang out with your dad for a second? We're gonna look at these photos and see if we froze the action. I think we might have. Oh, that is such a great expression. Let's zoom in close on her. She just whispered, "I can jump so high." Oh, this is super, look at that. I'm gonna hit escape here, and I'm gonna zoom to a different zoom ratio of 1:4. There we go, now go full frame. Yeah, so some things I like about it, I love the hair, look at that beautiful hair. The hair is just kind of flowing. I love the expression in her eyes. I love the fact that her shirt is up, her hands are back, she's off the floor, and all of that is really good. I'm gonna crop it so I'll show you how I would actually crop it if this were an actual photo shoot, which it is an actual photo shoot. Something like that, right there. And now go to full frame, and then inside of Lightroom, of course, I would add, I would do some other work. And when we do post processing, I'll work on this photo to brighten it up a bit. So those are the things I like. The thing that I don't like so much is the harsh shadow off of her face. And so, really, what I should do is I should change the position of the flash, get it a little bit more on axis, and I should probably bring in a big ole reflector, probably a silver reflector so that it reflects more light onto the scene. So, there we go, freezing action. Here's a couple of other images that I took with another family. They had three kids and I had all three kids kind of jump into the air, and this is what it looks like with a black background. In this case, I let, it was just a big ole black sheet. I let that sheet kinda go out onto the floor into the foreground, and then I had them jump into the air with a couple of different poses. There's a Super Mario Bros. pose on the left, and I'm trying to think of the skit that I saw once. Never mind, this funny pose on the right, and then I used the big old umbrella here for that, and then a reflector on the other side. So you can freeze action in the studio. Again, the key is a little bit higher on that shutter speed, 1/250 of a second, and then your flash, basically, is the thing that's causing everything to freeze, 'cause that pulse of light is so fast. Questions, comments, thoughts, internet? Do you guys have any questions? Of course I have a question. I love your questions. Earlier, when you were talking about the calibration being off on your camera, or your light meter, I didn't know that you had to calibrate light meters, or was it your camera that was off calibration? There's something in, I just got this light meter the other day, and I haven't done extensive testing on it yet, so you're all seeing it when it says f/5.6 and I have a 5.6 in the camera, there's something a little bit different between the two. So, normally, if they are matching up, I wouldn't have to necessarily make any changes to my exposure from that. I don't know, maybe there's an ISO bump that I have set up on my camera a little bit differently. I haven't actually gone through to troubleshoot what that issue is. For the most part, though, that value that it's giving us is supposed to be an accurate value, and it should give us a good exposure, especially when you're shooting RAW. Even though it may look a little overexposed, like I know in this monitor here in the studio, it's purposely a little bit brighter. It's designed that way so it shows good on live TV. So things look a little bit brighter there than they actually are on the camera or in Lightroom. So how would you calibrate a light meter, though? Well, yeah, so how do you calibrate a light meter? Well, the light meter's supposed to come from the factory calibrated. Probably the variation is actually on my camera body. I'm guessing maybe I've got, there's a lot of settings behind the scenes. I use these cameras for all sorts of things. I use them for landscape, and sports, and action. And so maybe there's something I had set in here in this menu where it's purposely overexposing. I'll have to check maybe at the next break and find out. Thank you. Great question. Other thoughts? Got a question about high-speed sync from the internet. 'Kay. Just talking about the speed of it versus normal flash syncing. Yeah, great. She asked, you asked the same question right before the last break, high-speed sync. In the studio, we're not really concerned about having super fast shutter speeds, because all of the light that is coming into the camera is coming from the pulse of the flash. That's it, so basically if you think about the shutter speed of a 1/250 of a second, that shutter basically opens up, (whooshing) the flash fires (clicks tongue) and then the shutter closes. (hands clapping) So what's the percentage of time that the flash fires while the shutter is open? Well, it's actually very, (snaps fingers) very short. So of that 1/250 of a second, your flash pulse is maybe 1/1,000 of a second, and if you have a really low flash power, the pulse of light is actually faster than that, maybe 1/10,000 of a second. So as the shutters open, the flash fires and freezes the action. That's why we can do what we just did there. Let's talk about high-speed sync. The reason why we use high-speed sync is when you're outside, on a sunny day, and you still want to use flash. See, normally, on a sunny day, or even sometimes on a cloudy day, your shutter speed just to take a regular picture has to be like 1/500 of second, 1/1,000 of a second. Well, because of the nature of a DSLR's shutter, the way that you get 1/1,000 of a second on these cameras, is the shutter actually does this. I'll move my hands this way. The shutter starts to open, and then before it gets to the top of the sensor plane, the rear shutter closes behind it. So when you have, let's say, 1/1,000 of a second, this is what happens with your shutter. It goes open, and this exposes a slit, and then the rear shutter closes. So you can't actually take a single pulse of light because if you do, it'll only basically expose a segment of your sensor. So what high-speed sync does, to the question from the internet, high-speed sync changes the nature of how your flash works. Rather than your flash just going pop, one pulse, which would cause that little strip to happen, the flash actually goes like this, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, more of a pulsating flash, and it actually exposes as the shutter goes up the sensor plane. (laughs) Okay, that was a lot of talk. We only use high-speed sync really in the outdoors when we want to work with the sun, or even overpower the sun, and even then, the flash that you use had to be fully dedicated to the camera body. In other words, you really oftentimes need to use a Nikon flash with a Nikon body that's designed to do high-speed sync with that scenario, or you can get third-party flashes that are dedicated. That's the key word, a dedicated flash that has that capability to do kind of this machine gun, da, da, da, da. In the studio, you don't have to worry about it. In the studio, you're not worried about your shutter speeds having to go up to 1/1,000 of a second or higher.

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Great course really love the way Mike teaches so informative with very useful tips and tricks to use in photography

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Loved this class. Great basic essential information. Mike filled in many gaps concerning my knowledge of studio photography.

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