Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Easy Creative Shots

I think we all are looking for something that ads a little style and creativity to our work. Sometimes we forget the tools which we actual hold in our hands. Take the case of when your flash fires. Who....what you say? Well I think most people keep their flash firing when the shutter release is first pressed, and to be more specific when the shutter first opens or first curtain sync. So why not change it up a little bit? Just hold down your flash button, rotate that command dial until it says "rear". The results are at the left simply shot with an on board SB800 with the diffuser cap on and pointed at the ceiling.

So what is really going on here? Well, obviously there is some motion blur but why? well we are mainly exposing the available ambient light and creating the blur. The flash then fires just before the shutter closes. This freezes the subject in the last spot creating a sharp image of the subject with the motion blur. You can go over board, over expose the ambient and just end up with a big bright mess of blur!

You want to see what a portrait of a stationary subject is like with rear sync? Check out Joe McNally's Blog for a pretty creative environmental portrait. How do we know Joe was using rear sync? He says in the post
The shutter was dragging pretty good for the ambient backlight, but she stays sharp cause the strobe dominates the foreground.
Plus if you read his book you know he pretty much leaves his camera on rear sync!


Ewan said...

Um. Surely front curtain slow sync would have the same effect on a static subject? The flash would still dominate the foreground and make it sharp, and the long exposure afterwards would do the blurred background?

John Leonard Photography said...

Yes and no. The issue is when you have motion blur from your subject. Using front curtain will render your subject sharp and then you will have blur which generally doesn't "feel" right when looking at an image. Using rear sync creates the blur then the subject is rendered sharp at the end of the blur streak.

Ewan said...

Well yes, but the Joe McNally post you referred to wasn't of a moving subject, and AFAICS there's no way to tell from his post whether he was using rear curtain or not; the (static) foreground subject would still have been sharp either way.

Wouldn't it?