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Video thumbnail for youtube video Using Flashes for Skateboarding Photography - The Phoblographer

One of the best ways to capture extreme sports athletes in their environment is to use a flash. Flash helps to add drama to a scene while also letting you control exactly where you want the light to come from. Combine this with use of a fisheye and you’re usually well equipped to create awesome images.

Take skateboarding for example: photographer Sam McGuire shot a video a little while back on the importance of flash duration when photographing skaters. Flash duration essentially takes over whatever the shutter speed is and works to stop fast moving motion. Typically, studio strobes have much faster flash duration than speedlights and can freeze motion like a skateboarder grinding a rail.

Sam explains that flash durations are measured in fractions of a second, just like shutter speeds. “The faster the flash duration, the sharper your image will be” says Sam.

His video on using flashes for skateboard photography is after the jump.

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Dancer with second curtain flash

Dramatizing movement is one of the coolest things that you can do in a photograph that otherwise captures it all in a single frame. While many photographers love to do this with long exposures, adding a strobe element via second curtain flash can create even more drama. When you add second curtain flash, what the camera does is freeze a specific moment in the image while dramatizing the movement of the rest of it. It’s a lot of fun–and we do it occasionally in our reviews.

Photographer Phillip McCordall created a tutorial video last month showing us a very proper and fairly old school way ot creating a photo like this in a studio setting with a dancer. He combined second curtain flash usage with a slower shutter speed and just the right aperture and ISO mixture to create the images that you’ll see in the video below.

Want to try this for yourself? We recommend grabbing a dancer or a ballerina. But this can be done with a lot more than just them. I’ve done this with fire dancers and athletes before. You’ll just need to think in terms of a long exposure for the most part.

Mr. McCordall’s video on photographing dancers with long exposures and second curtain flash is after the jump.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Halloween Fun with Shadow Puppets and a Flash (1 of 1)ISO 1251-40 sec at f - 9.0

Regardless of whether you celebrate it or not, Halloween is coming up. If you’re looking to have some creative fun with your speedlights, try your hand at working with shadow puppets. Of course, it requires a bit of work with paper or cardboard (in my case, very poorly). By placing a speedlight with a radio trigger fairly close to my paper ghost, I was able to create the pretty fun shadow puppet on the wall. In order to get this look, the shutter speed was kept relatively high, the ISO low, and the zoom head on the flash matched accordingly with my focal length. The light was also set manually.

The truth is that you can do with this any flashlight, but the reason why we used the speedlight has to do with zoom head control and more power output per image. Be sure to also place your flash fairly close to your shadow puppets and to experiment with the angles.

Obviously the more complicated your cutout is, the cooler the shadow will be.

So what could you do with these? Off the top of my head, the idea to set it as your Facebook page’s cover image will give your fans a better idea of your creativity and the fact that you can sometimes do something more fun.

Again though, this is all about fun. Don’t be so serious all the time. Be lighthearted. Embracing your creativity and your inner child will make you a better photographer.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Stephs first edits (17 of 18)ISO 160

When it comes to working with a flash during the daytime, one of the best ways to do this and ensure that your entire exposure isn’t blown out is to use an ND filter. To begin with, you’re supposed to use flash during the daytime to prevent shadows. You’ll start by positioning the sun behind your subject–but if you’re just working with ambient lighting then you’ll have blown out skies. And that method of backlighting is totally fine if you want that look.

But if you want to balance the background with your subject in the foreground, the best bet is to use a flash. One option is high speed sync or a fast flash duration, but one method that photographers have been using for years is the ND filter. We’ve used it too, but photographer Craig Beckta demonstrated this very well in the video below that shows the difference that an ND filter can make.

One big warning though: an ND filter can also affect your camera’s autofocusing abilities because it cuts down the amount of light in the scene that the sensor sees until the flash goes off.

Try it this weekend, and check out Craig’s video on using an ND filter to balance ambient light and strobe after the jump.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer X30 with High Speed Sync (1 of 1)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.5

Point and shoot cameras with a large sensor have a very big advantage over interchangeable lens cameras: they usually have a leaf shutter. Many years ago, medium format photographers would reach for cameras with leaf shutters because of their high sync speed with flashes. And many large sensor point and shoots have a lens permanently fixed to them. These lenses have leaf shutters–which means that the shutter is in the lens unit itself. So if the point and shoot has a hot shoe, then it can work with flashes off camera.

That’s exactly what we decided to do with the new Fujifilm X30. With its 12MP 1/2 inch sensor, an f2 to f2.8 zoom range and the ability to go down to ISO 100, we were very curious to see what a point and shoot like this one could deliver.



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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer BounceLite Flash Modifier review (11 of 16)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 1.4

We’ve got great news for you: being a user of flashes doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it can be less than the money that you spend on getting a new lens and it can help you get better results in your images. Some of them feature TTL transmission while others are fully manual. But if you want to get serious into Strobism, then that won’t matter anyway.

What you’re pretty much looking for is power output, reliability, build quality, and an affordable price point. And over the years, we’ve reviewed quite a few that meet all of those criteria. Here are some of the Best Camera Flashes Under $500 for you if you’re on a budget.

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