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Flash Action Photography

Friday, December 21st, 2007 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography

Flash Action Photography

Agreed, pictures taken with flash aren’t as great as those taken under natural light, but sunlight also brings harsh shadows with it. To precisely light up those dark shadows, flash is a must. That is particularly true of outdoor action photography, be it car racing, roller skating or jet skiing. With the help of your flash, you can compensate for those fast moving environments with some well exposed images. That is achieved by using both the light of the flash to fill out the shadows, as well as, the natural light in your picture’s scene. And it doesn’t stop there! With slower shutter speeds, you can create some fantastic effects.

Here are a few out-of-the-box ways to capture action with flash photography. Try them out today!

Sync Your Flash Slowly

First of all, you should start experimenting with your flash. Add a slower shutter speed (slow sync flash, as they call it) for shots that capture the movement of the scene in your viewfinder in its natural ambient light. This will not only freeze certain details, but also make your pictures look great. The more you try using this feature, the better you will get!

Pan Your Way During Exposure

In addition to the above mentioned tip, try panning along with your subject as they move by and you’ll capture some interesting effects. You can capture blurred backgrounds, but the main subject will be supremely in focus, but of course, frozen by the flash. That greatly helps when you are trying to capture candid moments of bungee jumpers, boxers and acrobats.

Zooming Helps Too

This is another cool technique that could heighten the drama in your action shots, while freezing your subject with your flash. Just try zooming your lens in or out during the exposure to get a sense of movement in the shot.

Experimenting Doesn’t Hurt

It’s great to be creative. If you’ve used all the previous tips with some measure of success, you are ready for this next technique. First though, you need to check if your camera allows you to get the flash off the camera (if you are using an external flash). Most cameras allow you to rotate the camera into portrait mode and keep the flash above the camera. Try some off camera flash techniques to lighten your subject as they travel by from different angles. Putting the flash on the top helps to eliminate shadows. You can compare your shots with the landscape position (flash on top) and the portrait position (flash on sideways) for shadows. When taking pictures of a person, the portrait position is always the best to use.

And Finally…

If you have control over the output of your flash (some point-and-shoots and most flash gun units allow this), experiment with a variety of different levels of output. You probably won’t need a full flash burst, so be sure to pull it back a stop or two to get a more natural look.

I wish you the best of luck. Remember, flash is where the action is!

~ Zahid H. Javali

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