Get a piece of the ac­tion

Tom Welsh lights up the course with off-cam­era flash to freeze moun­tain bik­ers in ac­tion

NPhoto - - Contents -

Take your flash off cam­era and get down low for ef­fec­tive ac­tion shots

Free­ing your flash from your cam­era will open up your op­tions for far more in­ter­est­ing light­ing. We’ve looked at us­ing off-cam­era flash for static por­traits on page 42, but it’s also re­ally use­ful for ac­tion pho­to­graphs. Fast-paced sports such as moun­tain bik­ing can be dif­fi­cult to shoot with­out us­ing flash to freeze mo­tion.

Flash­guns are an in­valu­able bit of kit. When mounted on your cam­era’s hot­shoe they can tilt and turn in all di­rec­tions, al­low­ing for sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter light than a pop-up flash can pro­vide. How­ever, they can also be fired-off cam­era, and can be an­gled to give your im­ages more depth than a straight-on flash is ca­pa­ble of.

There are mul­ti­ple ways of trig­ger­ing flash­guns. Most will have a Slave mode, which means they are trig­gered by the light from another flash. A more re­li­able method is to use re­mote trig­gers. These at­tach to your cam­era’s hot­shoe and the flash­gun, and trig­ger the flash when you press the shut­ter but­ton. These are the so­lu­tion if your cam­era is one of Nikon’s more ad­vanced mod­els, which don’t fea­ture built-in flash, or your flash lacks a Slave mode.

When pho­tograph­ing moun­tain bik­ers in ac­tion, flash is al­most es­sen­tial. In ar­eas shrouded by trees, such as the track where we were shoot­ing, us­ing a high ISO would cre­ate far too much grain, plus any shad­ows would be very deep. A flash­gun, how­ever, can fire from any di­rec­tion to lift un­wanted shad­ows and in­crease the depth of oth­ers. Flash also makes faster shut­ter speeds pos­si­ble. With­out it the shut­ter speed can­not dip much be­low 1/500 sec be­fore move­ment blur oc­curs in shots, whereas with flash we can shoot as slow as 1/125 sec com­fort­ably, as the brief, bright flash ef­fec­tively freezes the move­ment.

In ar­eas sur­rounded by trees, us­ing a high ISO would cre­ate far too much grain, plus any shad­ows would be very deep. A flash­gun can fire from any di­rec­tion to lift un­wanted shad­ows

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