Finally, I get to the part where I tell you what you get when you cough up the extra bucks for the Canon Speedlite or Nikon Speedlight.
Under normal situations your DSLR will only be able to synchronize with a generic flash at a maximum 1/200 sec.
In some cases, you might get away with 1/400 sec but that would mean unpredictable results.
If this concept is new to you, read my earlier post about “Getting Started with off-camera-flash.”
After my 1st attempt with Max where I set his bed on the ground, I quickly realized my camera position was too high.
Sort of like when you photograph young children. Seeing them on their level sometimes makes the images more engaging.
Since I didn’t want to be crawling on my belly on the very soggy ground thanks to our recent rains, I chose my tent trailer as my “stage”.
After paying so much more for a Canon Speedlite, you get this ability to use any shutter speed. but there is still a “gotcha.”
For the full off-camera automation and convenience of E-TTL, you have to use a Canon Speedlite capable of operating as the Master or the STE-2 transmitter.
The cheap way to get this off-camera automation for one Speedlite like the 430EX which is only able to work as SLAVE, is to buy an extension off-camera sync cord.
It’s nothing more than a cord that “fools the camera body” into thinking the Speedlite is still on the hotshoe.
High Shutterspeed Synchronization
The advantage of having HSS is your shooting won’t be restricted to any shutter speed.
That means if you don’t want available light to show in your image, just increase the shutter speed and totally eliminate its influence in your scene.
The picture above of Max was shot outdoors around 4 pm with plenty of daylight left. See the EXIF info under File Properties>Date Created 11/14/10 4:07:59 PM
Since I didn’t want the background, my backyard to show, I set my shutter speed higher to 1/1250 sec @ f4.
Can you see how this would be great if you’re attempting a portrait in bright sunlight?
HSS would have been really helpful when I did this engagement portrait at the beach.
If you want to fill-flash Â in bright sunlight normally you would have to be constrained by an exposure of 1/250 sec @ f8 or f11 ISO 100.
With HSS, you can now use a wide open aperture to throw the background out-of-focus.
The downside of using HSS is your batteries in your Speedlite will drain a lot faster.
Also you may have to combine a couple Speedlites to generate the kind of power to overpower sunlight.
If I ever attempt this again, I’ll be sure to:
- do the pictures in the backyard even though the light in the front yard is prettier. The distractions and loud noises aren’t as big an issue in my backyard
- use light modifiers to sculp and shape the light the way I want. Umbrellas and softboxes might work if I can get the cats used to their strange-looking shapes.
- add a 3rd speedlite situated high, pointing downwards and behind Max so it can see the STE-2 transmitter. That speedlite will provide the necessary separation of his black form from the background
- get an assistant and some treats
- have radio slaves as backup once the light levels drop like close to sunset. The Speedlites had problems firing when it couldn’t see the infra red beam from the STE-2.
Did I Forget Something?
I’m sure there are folks out there with cats who have advice for me but I may have overlooked something here. If that’s the case, feel free to suggest them under comments.