How to Shoot High Speed Sync Flash on Film for Outdoor Portraits

Been wanting to try shooting with flash for outdoor portraits on film? George Muncey of Negative Feedback shares his quick tips.

Flash photography has long been an integral part of portrait photography, whether in the studio or on location outdoors, and whether you’re shooting film or digital. George Muncey of Negative Feedback has been getting some good results with it, as he showed in his latest video. If you’ve never tried it before, his examples shot with an Elinchrom Kit will get you inspired to experiment with flash for your outdoor portraits on film.

According to Muncey, picking up an Elinchrom kit with a portable battery and a high sync flash head. The best thing about this equipment, as he found, is that he can use it as a regular flash in the studio, or pack it up for shooting portraits on location. If you shoot a lot of outdoor portraits with your film cameras, adding a flash to your tools can open you up to more shooting opportunities and more creative results.

In his video, Muncey described how he has been able to achieve a subtle yet interesting look on his outdoor portraits with this Elinchrom kit. “..the subject is lit with really nice, soft light and the background is kind of just a tiny bit darker, and it kind of looks natural but at the same time not.” There are many brands that offer the same setup but if you’d like to take his word for it, Elinchrom may also be right for you, price-wise.

Flash Setup

Muncey chose the ELB 400 because it’s one of the smallest and lightest available. He paired it with a Quadra HS Flash Head and a light stand. Other stuff you’ll need are some sandbags to hold it down, an umbrella (he uses a 125 cm one) with white on the inside for softer light, a softcover to create a big softbox, and a handheld light meter. You’ll also need something to sync the camera to the flash. For this, he got Elinchrom’s hotshoe wireless transmitter, which allows him to change all the settings from the camera.

Shooting Tips

Muncey also shared the different results you can achieve with this equipment, from the strongly-lit look of using just the flash head, colored light, and the flattering looks produced by the umbrella and softcover. The last is his go-to setup to achieve the result he described above.

The settings also have a big part in producing the flattering results Muncey goes after. His formula? Set the flash power to 60%. Do a meter reading for the aperture, and decide if that will give the depth he wants in his shot. Then, he adjusts the flash power if necessary. Normally, the aperture that works for him is between f5.6 and f16. Lastly, adjust the shutter speed to a faster setting to produce a darker background or a slower setting for a brighter background. The high sync speed of your camera will allow you to get the same exposure for your subjects even when you change the shutter speed.

The best way to get the hang of things with flash photography is through practice and experiment. So, if you can get your hands on this flash setup, go ahead and try different settings and adjustments to get an idea on the look that works for you.

Check out the NegativeFeedback YouTube channel for more of George Muncey’s film photography videos.

Screenshot image from the video