Sarah Galbraith Photography Blog
Sarah Galbraith Photography
Portraits with Nikon's High Speed Sync feature

Couple Portraits using Nikon’s High Speed Sync feature

Amara & Jeremy at Powell Butte

I worked with the lovely Amara and Jeremy doing some portraits last month at Powell Butte in Portland, Oregon. They are a fun couple and were very patient as I tried out some fun camera tricks. I will also mention troopers, as it got quite chilly near the end of the shoot.

The main goal for this shoot was to get a proper exposure for the sky and sun while maintaining a proper exposure for Amara and Jeremy with a fairly high f-stop. The real challenge is shooting into the sun, which requires the camera to shoot at a faster speed (usually above 1/400 second) for a proper exposure. The other challenge is getting the correct exposure for Amara and Jeremy without catching the shutter in the frame. In the past, if you shot with a flash at 1/500 second there would be a line across the frame from the shutter because one of the shutter curtains will block out the light from the flash. The beauty of the Nikon Creative Lighting System is that you can trigger the flash remote above the standard 1/250 second.

The draw back of this is that the power to the flash is significantly reduced at the faster speeds. This means it may not be appropriate to use when your subject is in motion. It also requires you to maintain a closer distance to your subject.

First, I set up a couple SB800’s off camera and triggered them with the on-camera flash. I just have to mention here that the Nikon Creative Lighting System is really great for photographers that don’t want to break the bank on studio lights and don’t want to break their back trying to carry strobe batteries up somewhere like Powell Butte. We did the whole shoot with the camera on a High Speed Sync shooting into the sun as an effect and a backlight.

We began about 4 p.m. in the afternoon to try and capture the warmer evening sun. I kept the camera’s speed at about 1/500th of a second, maintained an f-stop around f/16 for a greater depth-of-field and had the ISO set at 400. I also played around with using quicker speeds, up to 1/1000 second, and lowering the f-stop to allow for more ambient light.

The step-by-step High Speed Sync:

  1. Go into your camera’s menu
  2. Choose Custom Menu Settings
  3. Then choose Bracketing/Flash
  4. Choose Flash Sync Speed
  5. Lastly choose 1/250 s (Auto FP) or Auto FP High Speed Sync
  6. Get that flash out and have some fun

For a more in-depth explanation check out Russ Macdonald’s Nikon CLS Practical Guild  blog at :

Amara and Jeremy couples portraits at Powell Butte shot with Nikon's creative lighting system and the high-speed sync feature.
Amara and Jeremy couples portraits at Powell Butte shot with Nikon’s creative lighting system and the High Speed Sync feature.

Amara & Jeremy at Powell Butte

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