High-Speed Sync On-Location Portraits

Have you ever tried using high-speed syn for your portrait photography? Well, in this step-by-step tutorial I show you how to do it quickly and easily to create unique portraits. These techniques would apply to any type of photography from weddings, engagements, boudoir, families, etc. We will cover how to use high-speed sync using the Westcott FJ400 and the FJ-X3M

Equipment Used:

Team:

Photographer: Sal Cincotta 
Model: Marylyn Phan
Hair & Makeup: Brandi Patton, Refine Beauty

Ready for some high speed sync on location portraits? Let’s get to it. What’s up everyone? My name is Sal Cincotta. Today, I’m here with the always gorgeous Marylyn Phan

Let’s get to it. So if you want to use off-camera flash outdoor on locations, of course, anything over 1/200 of a second is going to kick your camera and flash into high speed sync. So what does that mean? Basically it’s getting the camera and flash to work together at anything that’s above that 1/200 of a second. So let me just explain it. Don’t tune out on me. I’m going to break it down in a really simple way. Think about we’re on a highway and the light is moving down that highway at 1/200 of a second. Okay? And that’s the speed lights getting there. The shutter on your camera opens and closes at 1/200 of a second. So when you click the shutter, the button, and release the shutter opens up at 200 miles an hour, the light’s coming in, hits the sensor, makes an exposure, and the rest is just all magic working for you.
 
Well, on a bright day like this, and we want to photograph at F1.2, your shutter speed is going to kick up to 1/1,000, 1/2,000 of a second, and that light’s only coming at 200 miles an hour. Shutter goes up at 1/1,600 of a second, 1/2,000 of a second. Light never makes its way there. And so this is the only analogy I can give you, hopefully that helps, of getting the two to talk together. So what ends up happening is through technology, your camera and your flash are working together in high speed sync. So now they both know that we have to be faster than 1/200 of a second, and the strobe starts firing mini bursts to get there faster, to stay in sync with your camera shutter. So hopefully that’s making sense.
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/2500, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/3200, ISO 100

Now, you might be asking why do you want to photograph at 1.2? Well, for me, I love that milky look outdoors. We’ve got all this kind of junk around. But it’s urban junk. It’s beautiful. And so what is the saying? One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Well, this is my treasure right now. All these weeds, so this is going to give us kind of eye candy in the foreground, eye candy in the background, but I don’t want to focus on it. I want Marylyn popping off that background. So I’m going to photograph this at 1.2. I’m going to set my ISO at 100.

The more ISO I have, the more sensitive my camera is to light, means my flash has to work that much harder. So I don’t want my flash have to work that hard. So I’m going to ISO 100 or even ISO low, and that’s giving me an extra stop of power. But we’re going to operate at 100 right now. So we’re going to set that up. I’m going to have to put my trigger. And so I’m using the Westcott, we have the FJ400 here today, and I’m using the FJ-X3 M trigger. And on here, I don’t know if you can see this, if you want to come in here, I’m going to set up sync. And that is going to go to just that high with the lightning bolt. Okay? So we’re going to cycle through until we get that to H. Almost all your camera flash systems, all of them get into high speed sync a little bit differently.

So just kind of check your manufacturer’s manual for that. And what I’m going to do is I’m shooting at F1.2, ISO 100, and I don’t care what the shutter speed is because the camera and the flash are going to make that adjustment. So all I really have to do at this moment is get the flash power dialed in. I’m also on camera under exposing by one stop. So I’m shooting an aperture priority and I’m underexposing by one stop, I know I’m doing a lot of talking. I promise you it’s going to be worth it. 

Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/2500, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/2500, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/3200, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/2500, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/3200, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/2500, ISO 100

So that first shot is pretty good. She’s a little underexposed for me. So I’m going to move the power up one stop. So I’m going to move it to six and I can change that from the trigger. Now I’m getting some really cool light. I’m going to fan it away. Now I like what I’m seeing here. And so as I’m looking in camera, you’re going to see a lot of kind of shallow depth of field. And look, we’re in an urban environment, so it’s already looking a little shaggy to say the least. And I’m okay with that stuff, but I don’t want it to be in focus. I need it to be out of focus and by underexposing and creating those dark and moody portraits that we’re known for, this is how I do it.

This is the way I work. No matter what the conditions are. You can do this for sports photography, family shoots. You may not shoot as shallow, but you get the gist. This is the way you can do it. So I’m going to get to work on Marylyn and create some images. Let me know in the comments which ones are your favorite. And don’t be intimidated by this. Just get out and try it. So, because I know I’m at a shallow depth of field, I can now move stuff in front of the lens and just give me a little bit of eye candy there.  Yeah, and this is blurring out some of the foreground. It’s just making it a little bit more interesting. And I love messing around with this kind of stuff.

Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/2500, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/4000, ISO 100
Again, at this point, once you get dialed in, it’s just about having some fun. Watch your composition. All right, so one of the things I’m doing is pulling Marylyn away from the wall. And the reason for that is to get more of that depth of field and light fall off. So the first time I had her closer to the wall, you’re seeing a little bit of light on that wall. That’s kind of a look right now, a vibe, an aesthetic, whatever the correct adjective is at the moment.

It’s the aesthetic. Anyway, so that look is kind of in right now, right where it looks very flashy. So now what I’m doing is by pulling her off the wall, I’m going to allow that wall to go darker, create more light fall off, if you will. So I’ve just moved her off that wall and to make her now pop. So let’s get to it. I’ll shoot some mid-level portraits of her. So I’m right up at your waist here. 

Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/5000, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/4000, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/4000, ISO 100
All right guys. That’s it. High speed sync on location for your portraits. Dark, dramatic, moody. Add your flavor. Add season to taste, I always like to say. But we got some killer images of Marylyn off of this. And again, I’m using an FJ400. The light is barely working. We’re not making it work hard as it would need to. We’re at half power, but we are getting all these killer dynamic portraits. So don’t knock it to try. Get out there, give it a try. Let me know in the comments which one you like, and we’ll see you in the next video.
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/3200, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/4000, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/4000, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/3200, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/3200, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/4000, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/8000, ISO 50
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/3200, ISO 100
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/8000, ISO 50
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/8000, ISO 50
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/8000, ISO 50
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/8000, ISO 50
Settings: f/1.2 @ 1/8000, ISO 50

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