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01-05-2011, 03:06 PM   #1
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Using flash to freeze action

I know you can use the flash to freeze action, but if there is a lot of ambient light, will that affect the freezing action? I was trying to freeze some water drops outside, and it didn't work as I expected. I've had success freezing action when it's been low light conditions, but in this case, it didn't work well. Ideas?

01-05-2011, 03:19 PM   #2
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Hi eccs19,

I haven't done this, but my best guess is X synch to max out the shutter speed, small aperture, low ISO, and a relatively powerful external flash to maximize the flash as the source of light.

Scott
01-05-2011, 03:20 PM   #3
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When there is a lot of ambient light, you can see ghosts in the photo. The ghosts are particularly bad if you use the leading curtain sync.

To minimize the effect of ambient light, you can use (1) small aperture, (2) low ISO setting, (3) max. sync shutter speed.

Because of (1) and (2), using a powerful flash can also help.
01-05-2011, 03:25 PM   #4
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Maximize your flash power and minimize the ambient light contribution.

I would try this: Shutter speed should be at 1/180, ISO at 100, flash set to full power, control exposure by using aperture. If that's still not enough flash power, I would use an M lens to disable the P-TTL preflash, and add more flashes with optical slave sensors.

It might not work but it would be a hell of a show!

01-05-2011, 03:58 PM   #5
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Too much ambient light and you're basically screwed with that low of flash sync. You can try all the suggestions and hopefully you'll be near the edge where one works. Most digital shooters don't like to stop down too much into the "diffraction limiting zone" which makes bright ambient conditions even worse for this sort of thing.
01-05-2011, 04:39 PM   #6
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You pretty much answered the question yourself in your original post--in that ambient light turned out to be bad for this kind of shooting.

I also assume that you realize that in the absence of sufficient ambient light, and a shutter speed of 180 or less with flash, that the shutter speed is irrelevant, and only the flash is responsible for the exposure and freezing the action. Which is why low ISOs are FINE for this work, depending on other factors.

The low ISO minimizes the ambient light contributions.

And as Tuco said above, these are the kinds of images you want to shoot with the most minimal ambient light possible, dropping a pebble in a glass of water, for example.
01-05-2011, 06:49 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the replies. I was using off camera flash at full power. F11, and as you can see from the attached picture, the further the drop got (more acceleration), the more blurred they got. My flash is not that powerful, so I'm sure that didn't help any. I never thought about trying more than one flash. I could have tried that. Shutterspeed was only at 1/125. I should have bumped it up to max (1/180), but I'm not sure it would have made that much of a difference. Snows all gone now, so I may never find out.

01-05-2011, 07:11 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by eccs19 Quote
...
My flash is not that powerful, so I'm sure that didn't help any. I never thought about trying more than one flash.
Powerful enough in that shot to overexpose with your selected shutter and aperture.


Last edited by tuco; 01-05-2011 at 07:19 PM.
01-05-2011, 07:34 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
Maximize your flash power and minimize the ambient light contribution.

I would try this: Shutter speed should be at 1/180, ISO at 100, flash set to full power, control exposure by using aperture. If that's still not enough flash power, I would use an M lens to disable the P-TTL preflash, and add more flashes with optical slave sensors.

It might not work but it would be a hell of a show!
Its actually the opposite

you actually dont want a full power flash.

You need to lower your flash duration, so set it to 1/4 or less power.

The lower you drop the power the faster the strobe and the more stop motion you will get since the MINIMUM power creates the shortest flash duration and thats what you need.
01-05-2011, 07:47 PM   #10
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I'm obviously going to have to do some testing. Seems to be mixed answers. I guess I've got a project to play with now. Just what I need, another project.

Biggest problem is it's a AF-280, so I've only got a HIGH & LOW setting, and no P-TTL on my K7. It does have an auto setting. I wonder how well it would work with something like this.....
01-05-2011, 08:06 PM   #11
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I think the advise for strong flash was so you could stop your aperture down due to bright ambient conditions. But at that close distance shown in that shot, power is not a problem. No matter how fast your strobe is, it won't do much good if at 1/180th you are recording lots of ambient light.
01-05-2011, 08:09 PM   #12
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some research may be in order

Strobist: Welcome to Strobist.
01-05-2011, 08:32 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by eccs19 Quote
Thanks for all the replies. I was using off camera flash at full power. F11, and as you can see from the attached picture, the further the drop got (more acceleration), the more blurred they got. My flash is not that powerful, so I'm sure that didn't help any. I never thought about trying more than one flash. I could have tried that. Shutterspeed was only at 1/125. I should have bumped it up to max (1/180), but I'm not sure it would have made that much of a difference. Snows all gone now, so I may never find out.
After looking at the EXIF data, I see you have an Ev of +1 something.

That ain't gonna help.
01-05-2011, 10:15 PM   #14
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I'd have done a HSS exposure at 1/500sec or so - that would have frozen action better.
01-06-2011, 01:07 AM - 1 Like   #15
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As I saw your pic with the water drop, the solution is simpler: use ND filter(s) to kill the ambient.

For macro, I don't need much power or multiple flashes, just place the flash close to my subject. The gray background should be black. If I want ambient background, I use another flash. It's nice to have blurred, colored background for a such macro shoot.

I use to have one ND8 filter (sometime in combo with CPL) to reduce the ambient light, even at full daylight. In your case, I may need 2 ND filters with tripod, manual pre-focus, manual mode, manual flash.

I ll try this shoot when I have some time. White/reflective subject is a challenge, but I think I have it ;-)

One more thing: I saw the 'drag' of the flash reflection. It's how fast the flash pulse is. Full power produce longer pulse so they won't freeze very well, try lower power on your flash. I don't have an AF280.

Last edited by hoanpham; 01-06-2011 at 01:17 AM.
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