Flash duration, daylight, freeze action

Discussion in 'Sports' started by laichungleung, May 27, 2021.

  1. Does very short flash duration help freeze action if you are shooting in broad daylight? Let's say the X sync is 1/250 and you are shooting at f/16 as the system doesn't do high speed sync, hyper sync or hi sync. It can only do X-sync. So you have a super fast strobe with short duration, will that freeze action like people riding a bike or skateboarding? If ambient is very low or totally dark in those shutter and aperture combination then I can see the benefit of a short flash duration in stopping action, but perhaps not so much in broad daylight? Want to hear your experience or opinion....
  2. In daylight, flash is usually used as a fill light. Freezing sports action outdoors in daylight should only require the correct ISO and shutter speed, which may need adjusting. I'd probably shoot 1/500 or higher, depending on the ISO. These images were shot on the same day, same field, no flash.:) sports.jpg 300mm 1/640 f/2.8 ISO 200 sports_same_day.jpg 100mm 1/250 f/5.6 ISO 100 sports-thecall.jpg 100mm 1/500 f/5.6 ISO 100
    luis triguez and bobbudding like this.
  3. Flash is useful for freezing action indoors, if the flash is powerful enough to light 2 or more stops above ambient levels. Outdoors? mpressionz has given excellent advice.
    mpressionz likes this.
  4. In the 80's I bought a Canon T-90 with second curtain flash sync which you need for the situation you describe. It was the Canon or Vivitar flash brochure, at the time, that showed awesome effects of daylight motion blur behind the subject and then the subject frozen by the flash. This was an effect I was excited about trying, but have never done it.

    I believe most cameras these days have second curtain flash sync available. If you use standard first curtain flash sync then the subject is first frozen then you get the motion blur in front of the moving subject.

    Here is an article discussing the above:

    Flash Blur Fun - Digital Photo Magazine

    If these affects are what you are talking about you will simply need a lot of trial and error and experimenting.

    Thank-you for reminding me of this because I have a camera and flash that can do this. So much easier to try this with digital!
  5. thanks all.
    i shoot some sports, mainly bike racings. I tend to add flash to add some spark to the pictures otherwise I feel like the lighting is too flat, i.e. if action is close and I am shooting with a wide angle like 16-35. Mostly I shoot at a low shutter speed (1/30s) and small aperture (f/8 or smaller), if front curtain curtain sync, the ghosting appears in the front, if rear sync, the ghosting appears in the end of the action which is usually more natural and desirable. So that's rear curtain sync.
    My question is actually on flash duration on action shots during daylight. I have seen numerous youtube video extolling the merits of fast flash duration which I have no way of testing in all scenarios as I don't own any 200w/s strobes with fast flash duration so I can only imagine....I tend to agree and from my limited experience, if I were to shoot in broad daylight with some below 100w/s flash, there is no way I can use flash duration to stop any action, that's based on flash duration to produce crisp images, instead I always use slow shutter and small aperture to pop the action. If I were to freeze any action I shoot 1/1000 or faster sans flash to freeze the action. So I just don't quite get it when people say flash duration to freeze actions, yeah I mean if you can totally overcome the ambient then sure but if I were to shoot outdoor, a long flash duration plus hypersync, i.e. using the camera's 1/500 or faster shutter speed would freeze the action...But I really have no experience ever having a power strobe with fast duration shooting action in broad daylight.
    mpressionz likes this.

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