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Capturing Action Q&A

Lesson 15 from: Introduction to Outdoor Flash Photography

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

15. Capturing Action Q&A

Next Lesson: Macro Photos

Lesson Info

Capturing Action Q&A

Let's see, I think now would be good time to break and ask questions about this type of photography, about action, about sports, if you have questions about flash settings, flash height, power, lens choices, those types of things. Ask 'em now. Question up front. My question would be how much time do you spend bracketing and in blurred content? So bracketing, so I'm gonna define that for other folks. Bracketing, the way I'm thinking about is, bracketing your exposure, brighter versus darker. Once I get my exposure set, I just leave it there, because in these type of action photos, you don't have a lot of time to shoot, and then shoot again and shoot again, you know, underexposed, metered and then overexposed. That just doesn't make a whole lot of sense because his movement's not repeatable. You saw how hard it was for me to actually get one shot where everything was framed. Now try to bracket that, it's not really gonna happen. And what about, how do you address in a real-life sit...

uation, when you're trying to get more focus on a particular part, like in the photo where he's Supermanning across- Okay. And on the one on the right, would you ever try to address maybe picking up more detail in the areas that are actually focused? Yeah, so it's a good question, I think the gist of your question is, he doesn't really, there isn't a lot of definition around him, right? There's almost too much blur. So what's the solution to that, how do we make it so it looks like there is more definition on him? Well, the answer is to use a faster shutter speed. I don't recall what I landed at, but let's just say that I was at a 1/30 of a second. A 1/30 of a second left that much blur, and then in that case, it's just too much blur in fact, his eye is almost completely gone because you're getting this overlap from his motion blur. So rather than 1/30 of a second, I would shoot it again, and shoot it at 1/60 of a second. So twice the shutter speed, half the blur and maybe that's enough. Being able to do this on your camera out in the field is sometimes quite difficult 'cause your camera's just got the little screen on back. What I would encourage you to do is have the patience and the determination to get it right. So sit there and look at it carefully and say, "Ah, my blur is too big, what's the solution? "Faster shutter speed." Then shoot it again. Zoom in for the next shot and do it 'till you get it right. That's what we do as photographers, we get it right, you know. When you start doing stuff like this and get paid to do it, your client wants it just right, too. And then something else you might consider is, bringing out a computer, bringing a laptop or your iPad and tethering- your iPads and your tablets these days, through Bluetooth and through other easy WiFi connectivity, you can actually see the images right there in real-time. I would encourage you to do that, it gives you a bigger screen to see detail. You can also show your client and say, "This is what we're getting, are you happy with this?" And if they're happy, then you're happy, and you're gonna get paid. So that's a great question. Yeah, another question up front. With this particular shoot, it was a, probably what I'd call a staged shoot, as in they weren't actually performing live, or in a competition or anything. When you are shooting in those sorts of environments though, how do you not disturb or blind athletes with a flash? Yeah, that is a really good question. So I've photographed a lot of different sports over the years. Let's take American football, for example. Typically you can't really get down on the field with your lighting equipment. The only time that people are gonna be close enough to the camera is when they're on your side of the sideline. Even then, you know, if it's like a night game, and you got your flashes set up, and this guy's going for a catch and your flash fires right there, you're influencing the game and that's never a good thing. So outdoor sports, like American football, soccer, those types of things, I find it pretty near-impossible to use flash. I don't want to say it isn't possible, but like you said, it's not scripted or staged, so what are you gonna do? Well, if you have to use flash in those environments, there are a few products, they're called Fresnel lenses, or "Better Beamers," I don't know if you've heard of this company before, Better Beamer. We use it in bird photography and wildlife photography. Basically it takes the light and collimates it and makes it very, kind of a telephoto type of light. You could use that but over the years, what I've found for big field sports photography, I don't even worry about flashes. I just use my camera's high ISO and real fast shutter speeds and call it good. Now let's say you're inside an arena, let's go to volleyball, basketball, something on those lines. Sometimes in those arenas, they will allow you to set up lights ahead of time. Okay? Like the NBA finals, if you watch the TV broadcast carefully, you'll see pulses of light going off regularly throughout the broadcast. Well, the photographers have set up lights in the rafters ahead of time, and trust me, they're not these little Nikon speed lights. They're big, honkin' studio lights, and they've got a bunch of 'em up there, so just a light kit for that, you know, is $10,000 worth of lighting to pull that off. So what I've done sometimes, if it's like younger kids playing, I'll set up my Nikon speed lights on one end of the court, okay, on a stand like this, I'll go bare-bulb flash and I'll set up one on this side, one on that side, and I'll radio-trigger or optical-trigger, either way is fine. And basically the only time I know that those flashes will work is when the subjects are down by the net underneath the hoop. And I'll talk to coaches ahead of time, I'll talk to the referee ahead of time, if everyone's cool with me doing that, then I can get some nice pictures. And basically, I'm using two flashes at least, and it's great 'cause you basically have a key light and a rim light, and the overall look looks very nice and sharp. But when they're mid-court, what do you do? You just have to live with it and not shoot the photo. Super question. Other questions.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Introduction to Outdoor Flash Keynote PDF
Lighting Diagrams

Ratings and Reviews


Mike Hagen has become one of favorite instructors. His instruction and question answers are clear and concise and he has a real world approach. He has a friendly and approachable personality. Best of all during this course he works by himself which makes you feel you too can accomplish the shoot on your own. Mike demonstrates a practical approach with affordable equipment as he is aware many photographers starting off do not have a huge budget. In his other course on using your first flash he also had several gear set suggestions based on budget which was so thoughtful and helpful. I hope Mike does some more advanced courses as well and I will keep watch for his name on the course schedule. A definite thumbs up for photographers starting off using flash.

Brandon Couch

This is the second class I've taken with Mike and it was amazing! So easy to understand even when you get into the "tech" side of how flashes work but especially when using them outside and how easy it is. I would totally recommend this class to anyone wanting to take amazing images outside with one flash. He even makes bare bulb flash look awesome. Such a great course!

Laura K.

I have watched a couple of Mike Hagen's classes, and hope Creative Live will bring him back to teach more. He is a fantastic, thorough, easy-to-understand instructor. He doesn't assume viewers already know certain things. He is humble and diligent and truly wants students to understand and learn the things he is teaching. He breaks things down and explains things better than most, and he doesn't hold back on details. Mike also provides helpful handouts/written materials to supplement his videos. I really like his classes and teaching style, and hope to be seeing more from him in the future.

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