USE CREATIVE FLASH SYNCHRONISATION
Learn to utilise shutter speed to create an attractive light gradient effect for flash-lit portraits
Take a new approach to shooting portraits with this guide; employ high-speed flash synchronisation and increase the shutter speed for a creative gradient effect
Every DSLR camera has a maximum shutter speed at which there can be effective synchronisation with a flash unit. The flash duration must exceed or match the duration of the total exposure, or the scene will not be evenly illuminated. This can be a major problem, as using flash limits the usefulness of shutter speed as a means of controlling brightness – without adjusting aperture, the scene may be overexposed at the locked 1/200sec that is standard. However, if used in moderation and with the correct camera mode, the otherwise undesirable frame darkening can be used creatively. By employing high-speed flash synchronisation and increasing the shutter speed above the maximum limit, a feathered brightness gradient is introduced. This helps to direct the viewer’s focus within the frame and gives an image some visual ‘weight’ at the bottom of the composition. This is a very popular technique with portrait and wedding photographers, especially when on location, where extraneous detail may compete with your subject for attention. It is also a very easy technique to learn and can be employed without requiring further kit investment. You may find that you have to use an external flashgun for this work, as some built-in camera flashes won’t be able to utilise the high-speed mode.
Inset FLAT LIGHTING
While lighting is even and pleasant, it is overly uniform, meaning the intended focal point of
the image (the face) is unclear to the viewer
ATTACH THE FLASH Begin by attaching an external flash unit or turn on the camera’s built-in flash. Diffuse the light as required for a softer spread appearance. Ensure there is good ambient light in order to avoid background underexposure.
METER THE SCENE (AV) In Aperture Priority mode, calculate an appropriate overall exposure, using matrix or evaluative metering. You can use TTL (through the lens) flash metering for accuracy, or you can adjust for flash light later.
SWITCH TO MANUAL MODE TTL flash metering can vary in its reliability from scene to scene. To avoid any unpredictable exposure changes as you compose your shot, use Manual and enter the settings suggested by the camera in the previous step.