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High Speed Sync

Lesson 38 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

High Speed Sync

Lesson 38 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

38. High Speed Sync


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


Principles of Light


Speedlights vs Strobes


Compressing the Scene


Location Lenses and Lenshoods


Metering Modes and Back Button Focus


Natural Light Reflectors


Lesson Info

High Speed Sync

high speed sync we already talked about yesterday what sync speed is and so I had a little illustration and sink speed is the highest and the fastest shutter speed that your camera can have and still work with the flash so most of our cameras is like one two hundredth of a second one two fifty is and the reason is that you actually have the flash fire and catch one of the shutters and I have an animation high speed sync lets you go faster than that high speed sync allows you to exceed your cameras sink speed which is written in the manual in fact you can go to a couple thousands of a second and not have a problem and this is extremely extremely useful for example if you want to be able to shoot at really wide apertures but when you shoot it really wide apertures it brings up all the ambient light with it so when you can use really fast shutter speeds really fast shutter speed stark and down the ambien so allows you to shoot wide with your flash and not have on overpowering amount of am...

bien so we're going to see how that comes into play and this was my illustration of how shutter speed work so the first shooter or thinks me the first daughter goes up when they're totally open a flash fires and the second shooter comes up and when you have a problem is when it's too fast there's actually never a time where both shutters or both currents are open so what happens in this example is it's still moving and your flash fires this is your sink speed and you're going to get that bar okay high speed sync however what it does is the flash is set to fire many many many many times so the entire time that curtain is moving you're getting lots of little pulses of light that make sure that you cover your entire frame with light without clipping so here's what it looks like and a fast exposure the whole time it's flashing in order to illuminate the whole image it's flashing with those moving shutter so here's another one a little bit slow little bit slower so now your entire image will be exposed without having to worry about catching your shutter okay so things are not as always as easy as they seem I will tell you that you do have some downsides to high speed sync because you have the flash firing so quickly it cannot give you full out play the flash gets significantly weaker so then you often need to move your light closer or put together multiple flashes in order to get the same amount of actual output from the original with the original exposure was original flash so I'm gonna walk you through what this looks like okay so for high speed sync I've got an image here one them under my sink speed one one twenty fifth of a second five six I s so one hundred my flash is at full power but I don't want to shoot it five six I want to shoot it to pointing so I opened up right so you went from five six to two point eight and this is what I'm thinking in my head okay I'm opening up well unfortunately now the image goes over exposed so I know that I need to have a faster shutter speed to darken down the ambient so when I go to two hundred I mean it helped but it's not good like it's it's not it's still overexposed I helped a little bit so what I really want to be able to do is they really want to be able to go over that sink speed if I go to five hundredth of a second it's going to darken down the ambience let's go back so what it does it darkens down the ambien okay I ran into a problem though because I now switched over into high feed think doesn't it look like there's no flash because all those little pulses don't have enough power so it's not showing up so now I have to start doing that little juggle so what do I have available to me to make my flash appear brighter I could turn the power up all the way it's already turned up when you're using high speed thinkyou should be shooting at full power because it's goingto decrease the power anyway all right so I already have it a full power I could bring my light closer but unfortunately it'll be in my frame so I don't actually have that option this time okay so my lens maybe it doesn't go open any wider than to pointing so really the only thing that I could dio is increased my I s l so I'm going to make my entire image more sensitive to light which means the light on her face will look brighter but then light in the background also looks brighter but I'm already in high speed thinks so I don't care about shutter speed anymore I can close down to compensate so if you want went toe so five hundred the light on her face got brighter but so did the background no problem I goto one to thousands of a second and this image was not exactly out of camera I gave it more of a black point but the rest of it was the same because I was including lens flare just a little bit in the frames that looked a little dull but otherwise like the exposure all of that that's what it looked like so I'm just going to talk that through one more time real quick is exactly how I shoot so I get the correct exposure but unfortunately it's at five six I want to shoot it two point eight but two point eight is just over exposed so I know I can close down my shutter speed a little bit but at two hundred it's still over exposed it to pointing and you know what I actually want that back onto bela I too stopped brighter than her maybe a stop and a half so what I want to do is I want a faster shutter speed after that two hundred the second I click over and on my flash I turn on high speed sync and there's a button on your flash or your trigger to do so some cameras night cons for example you can set it so that it's called auto f p it automatically uses high speed sink when you want to exceed your sink speed so it already knows unfortunately because I switched over to high speed sync the power of the flashes is just not strong enough I can't turn the flash if anymore and it's already close as I can get it so I need to do something to make the image more sensitive to the flashlight I can't open up my aperture anymore so I'm going to bump up my I s so and when I bump it up to five hundred problem again the whole image is bright but I've already above my sink speed I'm already in high speed sync so no problem I will use a faster shutter one to thousands of a second which allows me to have beautiful narrowed up the field underexposed that background and still have her correctly exposed so what about the cases together I love it because like you said it's just so many different elements that you control in various places yep so I'm going to go through a couple more examples of this and then talk about a couple of the things that can help you out with the problems you may encounter um here's the more problems I told you a the small pulses admit not are the fast pulses admit less light so that's going to become a problem but the other one is it kills battery life like it definitely will drain your battery more because some people say well why don't I just leave on high space think all the time why should why don't I just always exceed my sink speed if you're trying to conserve battery life and you can actually achieve the correct exposure while staying under your sink speed you're helping yourself out by making your battery last longer so that's why you wouldn't just always like oh who cares I'll just always shoot one to thousands of a second it would make a difference basically the benefit you really wide apertures and this is going to let me dark and down my background more since I could go ahead and go to a really high shutter speed I can keep darkened down my background so if in the middle of the day I wanted to look like I overpower the sun that's how you do it you turn on your high speed sync and make sure you close now and have ah you use a fast shutter speed and one other thing to consider about high speed sync that pierre mentioned in the chat room is that it doesn't really freeze movement because it's a siri's of small flashes so you can get a little bit of ghosting or blur if your subject is moving quickly that is a beautiful point excellent on dh it does help if it does help to shoot at when you're shooting at faster shutter speed because they did actually have to fire and more rapid succession but it's still too you will get a bit of ghosting um okay so I said all of that uh sydney and stephen could you please ground those two for me and you could just grab that light and won't move over there so what makes your life easier is if you know you were definitely going to use high speed sync on location and you know that that decreases the power of your speed lights you could just start off using multiple speed lights at once and so you have a couple different brands of the west caught triple threat you can put three speed lights on there which I have here and that's what we had set up in our westcott apollo orb and you can get even fancier if you wanted a ton of power this was made by foe ticks and it can have up to six speed lights on it at once so if you want to have portable lighting system and use your speed lights and for real almost power the sun you would do something like this I don't use six at once it's a little overkill but I do use three at once and so this is another instance where if you know you're going to shoot a lot of high speed sync maybe the six huh dollar flash isn't a good idea maybe the two fifty or the two hundred or whatever it is going to be better if you're going to be using three speed lights at once so just something to consider it makes my life a lot easier here's an example of what it looks like this firing like these things are bright they had the three of them together put out a lot of output and I can really dark and down my ambien this's like one over two thousand five hundred of a second so this is the final image that I got and I didn't have to in this case have a super really really high I s o I did open up my aperture because I like the look of it because I've got those three speed lights together I don't have to keep doing that jungle where I would use a uh really high I s o and then have to use so much faster shutter speed I don't have to worry about it because I have enough output and by the way to create the lens flare in this image when I composed I made sure just the edge of the sun was peeking in the top of the frame and that's what gives you a little bit of flair if it was like right in the middle of the frame it would just be a bright hot spot so the edges come around the edges of your subject to the edge of the frame is what gives you that glow um just while I'm on the topic of power output um would you guys grab me the quantum battery as well something that you might consider if you're shooting a lot and this this could be just one light if you're shooting a lot and you know you're shooting a lot of high speed sync and I said it drains battery life this is a battery pack that you can plug your flash into it's called those ones the quantum turbo s c I use this as a wedding photographer because you can get pass it off to you depends on the exact flash you have and exactly how your shooting but you can get like seven hundred or a thousand full power flashes for charge that's a time compared to what you can get with double a's so this is something I would definitely check out and they make a strap so that you can put it over your shoulder they also make it's not on here right now but it goes here and it can clip onto a belt and if you have that you could if you were a spider belt like I had the spider hole so you can also clip it onto the side of the holster so that was actually more or less what my set up looked like when I was doing wedding photography clipped on my belt and shooting with this plugged into the flash or if your flashes off camera you attach this to the stand but it makes a huge difference to recycle time much faster recycle times like significant on but also how long the battery lasts so I definitely recommend taking a look at that one all right we talked about that all right so just so you can see here put turning your your camera to high speed sync is or your flash high speed think it's set different places in different cameras and flashes that usually looks like this usually looks like the lightning bolt with the h um other times you'll see f p so you see auto f p a f p which is what nikon will call it the auto turn on high speed think so those types of things you'll see on my trigger it's just says h s s there's not a little lightning bolt so that's what you are looking for sometimes I'm working with flash on location you have some limitations and one of those limitations is shooting within your cameras sink speed so most cameras have a sink speed where they can actually talk and interact with this a strobe or speed light about one two hundredth of a second and perhaps you've shot above your sink speed before you may have seen the black bars that are created by your shutter so if you're shooting up trying to shoot at one five hundredth of a second or a thousand on notice that it simply doesn't work when you put your flash on you camera and you're shooting other manual or aperture priority sometimes you'll see that the shutter speed we'll either blink if it's above one two hundredth of a second telling you it's probably isn't going to work or with some cameras actually stops and does not allow you to shoot faster than one two hundred of the second so what I wanted to cover is when does this become a problem when does your sink speed limit you and how do you get around that so let's take a picture and take a look at how it affects this scene so it's a beautiful sunny day and I have a beautiful model here and I want to create a great portrait so what I'm going to do is I have her backlit so she's that nice hair light around her hair and then I'm going to use the rapid box octa as the main source of light on her face so I could give it a really soft and rapping like this is one of my favorite modifiers so I wanted to do was I wanted to take you through the steps off how I'm thinking and what's going through my head as I put together this portrait I'm going to run into a couple of problems and I want to explain to you exactly how I overcome them in a couple of tricks that you might not know exist on your speed light so for this b light set up the first thing that I'm going to do as I'm going to go ahead and figure out what I want for my ambient exposure so I'm just gonna grab my camera I'm gonna set that ambien exposure and then add speed lights later all right so I know that it's a really bright day so I'm gonna put my camera so one hundred low I s o is possible and I also know that my shutter speed needs to be about one two hundreds of a second why well it's a really bright day so I know that I want to try to darken down the ambien otherwise it's just gonna be really overpowering why it's one two hundredth of a second well my camera's sink speed is one two hundred of the second what you want to do is you want to go ahead check your manual and figure out what your camera sinks and this is the maximum shutter speed where your camera and the speed light can talk to one another and if you've actually ever gone above this you actually see the shutter of your camera appear in your frame like a black bar right so I have that limitation ocean on that one two hundredth of a second I s a one hundred and nineteen to figure out what I want that background exposure to be by setting my aperture great here miss do around I'm gonna have my background under exposed by about a stop stop under exposing the background okay so that gives me f ate so I'm gonna take a picture of this my trigger perfect thank you very much all right and I'm going to shoot with my flash on tt l with zero exposure compensation so that the flash is going to do is going to send out a pre pulse it's going to take an estimate of what the correct exposure for the flash should be on her face let's take a look at what that gives me man I love that modify that light looks absolutely perfect it's glowing it's soft however there's one thing I don't quite like about this shot I don't quite like shooting at a fader f seven point one which is where I was but under exposing the background all right so what I want to do is I want to open up my aperture so to do that if I go ahead and I opened up my aperture let's say I want to shoot at them they want to shoot at two point two turn around I'll take that shot and now everything is wildly over exposed what I need to do is any toe under expose that background and the other tool that I have my eyes so is already as low as possible so I would have to use a faster shutter speed unfortunately we all know that our cameras have this sink speed thankfully when you're shooting with speed lights there's a special feature called heisei speed sing that loud allows you to shoot faster than your camera sink speed and in fact it lets you shoot extremely fast so let's take a look at what that means what I have to do is on my either my flash or my trigger depends on the sis and you have is you need to turn on high speed sync which says h s s where sometimes it's an age with a little lightning bolt you want to turn that on and that's going to allow you to go faster than the sting speed on your camera most of pretty much all speed lights have this capability but not studio strobes most studio strobes do not have the ability to high speed sync but there are a few that cans to make sure you check that out there's just a couple on the market right now all right so back to speed lights all right so have my high speed sync on what that does is while my shutter is open the flash will now send now a serious small little flashes so that you don't actually run into the shutters all right well let's see how it goes into practice so at two point two well I want that background to still be one stop underexposed that takes me to one over two thousand five hundred of a second that is way above my camera saying speed but no problem I have high speed sync on okay so now if you look at that she has that beautiful hair light and now the background isn't distracting anymore now the background because I shot it two point two it's just really soft and glowing and beautiful all right well that's the basics of high speed sync and that works great but there are some times when it won't quite worked perfectly and you're going to need to know howto work around that you don't want to be when shooting in bright sunlight I often use high speed sink because it allows me to shoot faster than my camera's think speed and he was really really wide apertures but unfortunately it does have some limitations so let me give you an example let me take a close up shot of my beautiful subject okay that worked great exposure looks great on her face but right now that's just for a close up shot left say that I want to pull back and I want to do a wider shot and when I do so up unfortunately that's going to be in my frame so that he could take two steps back right there is great now I can get a wider shot great right there way take a look at this photo and there's a little bit of a problem the light on her face simply is not as bright anymore okay here's why how high speed sync works is that when you take a picture it sends out little flashes of light now right now I'm shooting it t t l exposure compensation zero so when she had the light here it should go ahead send notre pre flash reed with the exposure on her face should be and it should give me the same result when she backs up unfortunately because of those little pulses they're not strong enough and when she backs up there just simply isn't enough output to correctly illuminate my subject so what can I do the first thing I could do we play this little dance let me see sydney came before it a little um okay my frame back up just a tiny bit think you can do that and try to get the speed light as close as possible next thing that I can do is it can go back and play with my camera control is because I know that I can play with exposure in order to make this speed light appear brighter one of the controls you have for that is your aperture so we thought but not from two point oh to one point four this drill this speed light here should appear brighter on her face because that's one of the things that control the exposure four speed lights is the aperture so when I take the same picture again okay definitely the light on her face definitely got brighter but unfortunately the background got a little bit brighter as well what can I do well because I'm shooting in high speed sync I can use a faster shutter speed my faster shutter speed well dark and down ambience so right now at one to thousands of the seconds I can close down let's try one for thousands of a second same shot damn being gets darker but delay on her face stays the same so you're playing this little dance and depending on the situation also know that you could play with your sl same way that I just played with my aperture so let's say I opened up my aperture in a situation as wide as possible it's at one point four and that light fortunately on her face is still not bright enough what I can do is I can increase my eye so when I use a faster I s o the sensor is more sensitive to any light in the scene so right now if I did that if I used went from I s so one hundred tobias oh four hundred it's going to be much brighter this spirit we much brighter on her face problem is so will the entire rest of the scene so I can keep going and try to use a faster shutter speed it all depends on the particular scene that you're in but you're playing that little dance between distance of your speed light as well as how wide open is your aperture as well as how fast is your shutter speed now that definitely is something that you can do it takes a little bit of time but not too much practice makes perfect but there is something else that you can do to save yourself a ton of time there are of course upsides and downsides everything steven what you bring this over for a second you can use multiple speed lights so right here we have three of these speed lights mounted together and this is inside the apollo or made by westcott I also this is this is also a modifier that I love it's kind of a a bigger version of that it's a nice soft quality of light with it's sharper edges it's beautiful here's a the upside of it by putting together three of these speed lights when I'm using high speed sync there's so much more power output and I don't have to worry about bringing that flash those speed lights really close in I can have them much further back and still illuminate my subject but of course I have to buy three speed lights which is one of the reasons I like the photo flashes because they're significantly less expensive but they do everything that I need them to dio for this setup we have ah westcott bracket that holds three flashes there also are there's a photo x bracket that holds I think up to six um joe mcnally has a bracket that'll hold multiple speed lights so be sure to check that out what I'm gonna do is I'm going to swap out lights you saw this trouble that I had with this rapid box trying to move it in closer didn't have enough output now watch when I have these we're going to turn these on and soon I'm gonna have you step out and we're gonna use these and take a look at how much easier it is so now steven has set up the westcott apollo orb and there are three photonic speed lights and sign and so now if I wanted to a really wide shot he's not gonna be in my frame I can still shoot at let's shoot at one three thousand two hundred of the second at one point four and look straight here good and now that speed has no problem reaching her because it has the power of three speed lights together with high speed sink those little pulses are now significantly stronger so this is exactly what I'd shoot on location and shoot a couple more of these and also it'll make it a little bit easier if you have clouds in the sky like we do today when one of these clouds rolls in it is actually giving you a gift because what it is doing at that point it is decreasing the exposure range of the scene so that cloud comes in and it just dark and sound the highlights a little bit so now I'm not worried it's much is trying to bring down that background ambient light and then making sure that the speed light is correctly exposed so it'll make it a little bit easier on you right now I got kind of an in between so it looks beautiful good and turn your body that way perfect just like that great so you'll notice in this shot they're not full cloud cover it just a little bit of clouds itjust took those bright speculum highlights down just a tiny bit and now I'm able to easily capture my entire exposure because the background including that rock is not quite as bright and I have these three speed lights in here that easily illuminated her face so that is what I would do if I'm shooting on location when I'm using heist we think in order to make it easier for myself to get that entire dynamic exposure range all right so there was a question that I had when I was learning about high speed sync I I didn't know if it only worked in th e l or if it would also work in manual all right so here's what you want enough high speed sync will work in tt l it will work in manual but you have to be talking to the camera in other words you can't just have your flash off camera set to optical slave manual like it has to be actually communicating wirelessly or through a hot shoe connection so it can be wireless or tt or it can be a t t l or manual but you just have to make sure they're actually talking because it's it's the camera and the flash working together all right so we talked about high speed sync let back up to yesterday now that we've discussed this there is an equivalent for studio strokes that does the same thing and it's called hyper sink so hi spacing for studio for speed lights hyper sync for studio strobes it does the same thing what you need to know is that it's actually certain camera trigger strobe combination it's not just for example if I have a pro photo be one and just try to fire and do high speed sync on it so it doesn't work it's not like I can switch a mode on my camera or flash I have to buy special triggers and so it depends I just want to tell you just to have an idea of the triggers that do exist pocket wizards it's a combination of these depending on what system you have and so I'm like sorry because also there's a special one it's thie uh t five eighty nine for alien bees the power emc two for in einstein's the power s t four for ellen chrome that's why I like I'm trying to avoid seeing these numbers because it really depends on what system you have but it's not just a setting that you change on your street studio stroke you have to actually buy specific triggers in order to achieve this and furthermore if you really want to optimize it like really push it some of these let you go to one eight thousands of a second with studio strobes and still use your strobe to eliminate your subject but in order to be able to achieve that you actually have to hardwire your triggers into your computer and set what camera and stroke combination are using to get the most optimized results so just take a look at this figure out whatever studio strobes that you have that you're taking on location do your research and figure out which of these triggers are going to allow you to do it all right so we're gonna do one more high speed sync example then we're going to move on from that all right so here's a great example that I taught in my location lighting wanna one class sorry my skin skin one o one class were you there you're in that one skin wanna one class she has really dark skin and that background is high noon like this when we're talking about compressing exposure range is this is like as extreme as it gets it is extremely difficult to capture correct late on her face and correct light on the background so right now I'm not using any strobes any speed lights whatsoever so here's what I'm exposed for her face and here's what I'm exposed to the background like massive difference so I do want my background to be dark but I know that I can't go over one two hundredth of a second normally so I'm stuck in f six point three so I can open up to two point eight but I have to go to high speed sync and because I'm in high speed sync I know that whatever light source I have I'm either going to have multiple strokes where I'm going to have to bring it really really close especially if I'm tryingto deal with this later in the middle of the day it's going to have to be strong so I actually used the flash bender the large one but look how close I have it to her to get the correct exposure so I bring it that close to her and so I've started to compress the scene the backgrounds correctly exposed she's so so like I would like to use a softer modifier on her I'd probably go for and apollo orb if I could just to get a little bit broader more flattering light on her face but even at that highlight on her head is still really bright even though I've compressed the scene so much so you can't actually combine what we learned on day one we speed lights and strokes and I could go ahead and pop in a diffuser of some sorts that's what I do here same exact process and then added a fuser to cut that highlight out so it's exact same thing is before I figure out how to darken down my background open up my aperture at a flash wow that highlight on her head is still too bright put into fuser so you can combine all of that together alright so I wanted to show you an example of tl in practice um basically the camera and flash do its thing in the new tweak really what tl means s o I'm shooting in the park and this is what the scene looks like and I am shooting on manual the reason I'm shooting manual in my camera is because it's a backlit situation so average your priority sometimes struggles with that because depending on where and pointed my camera at one second it's going to overexpose then all of a sudden if I angle to get the sky in africa priority sees that and under exposes the whole scene so for backlit I know that I just chew on manual all right so here's again a close up of what it looks like and I'm shooting with the seventy two hundred so shooting wide open at two point eight I need to shoot at one five hundredth of a second so I go into high speed sync I grab my apollo orb and this has won speed like not three so as I said this because you're in high speed sync and just because you're trying to darkened down the background I don't need to have multiple stroke that totally works without multiple strokes so and now I've illuminated her like this and the image that you see is the background the whole time through was that set up in apollo orb using the mitre foetus meters plus the odin trigger and that's the overall look and here is another image that I made and this is when why shot manual because I piqued my camera up in order to get a little bit of lens flare and if I did that with africa priority and probably close down this whole time I'm shooting because I'm high speed sync I'm shooting with my t t l e and exposure compensation zero just let it do its thing if it was too dark I would try to increase the power plus one plus two if I needed to but it is high speed sink so I also that I'm losing power so I may need to do that to compensate

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This class was amazing. Lindsay Adler is a great presenter...I learned so much.....I love that she spoke about natural light..strobes and speedlites. Wonderful information. I purchased this and I am glad I did. Great job Lindsay. Jean


Lindsey Adler is one of the best and most engaging photography instructors in the USA. I highly recommend this lighting course. It felt more like a 101 and a 102 course than just a basic course. She teaches in a way that makes learning alot of fun and the amount of time & effort that she puts into her video and class presentations are second to none. Her classes are well worth their weight in gold and you will walk away with a wealth of knowledge!


Lindsay is amazing , I love the way she explains everything!! This course is filled with GREAT information and helps you better understand natural lighting,strobe and flash. Thank You Lindsay, please keep your classes coming!

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