16 December 2008

Gang lighting?

Hold the phone....another 'two posts in one day' situation...and it's all Syl Arena's fault!

Just the other day we brought you news of Syl Arena - you remember, the guy with 12 580EX II Speedlites and a bunch of Radio Poppers doing high speed sync portraits in the middle of the day at 1/8000sec? Well it seems that 12 Speedlites in a ring just wasn't going to work for everything, so he's progressed to 12 in a line...to photograph his son, smashing pumpkins, in the middle of the day, at 1/6400sec!

You may want to ask why he needs such high shutter speeds, surely the flash will freeze the subject? Sadly not. This is a high s(p)eed sync situation! Syl did what we should all do when shooting something like this - try out different settings. As such, he tried everything from 1/400sec up to 1/8000sec and discovered that 1/6400sec was where it got sharp!

With each Gang Light post, Syl is eroding the myth of Speedlites and showing where a bagful of Speedlites can really trump a Studio pack - especially on location.

You need to be aware of flash range if you're going to play with high speed sync. By way of example, if you go two stops faster than the max sync speed your flash range is reduced by a factor of 2x. Go four stops faster and the distance is reduced by a factor of 4x.

Since distance and power are analogous in this situation you can see how getting up to 1/6400sec (that's five stops beyond the sync speed of the EOS 5D that Syl was using - though he claims five and a third because his EOS 5D only syncs at 1/160sec) really needs a lot more power than can be produced by just the one or two Speedlites - and hence the gang of 12!


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