HSS Flash in the Studio: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey


In this video I’ll show you how to combine high-speed sync flash, and wide open apertures to create amazing photos in your small home studio… Hello I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re watching Adorama TV brought to you by Adorama the camera store that’s got everything for us photographers… In my previous video I looked at flash sync speed in my small home studio… well today I’m gonna do high-speed sync flash in my small home studio. Now there’s really in my mind two reasons to use high-speed sync flash… the first one is if you want to combine the ambient light with flash while photographing a fast-moving subject, and the second one is the one we’re gonna do in here, which is where you want to remove ambient light while using flash, but shooting with a really wide aperture lens. Now for that to make a bit more sense let’s get a model in. Let’s get a light set… but let’s not use it yet and let’s get shooting. So to help me out today I’ve got the amazing Roger… Roger is gonna be the model for this, and before I get into high-speed sync flash, I’m gonna take a picture at my normal flash settings. So I’m using my Olympus camera with a f/1.2 lens and the whole purpose of having a f/1.2 lens is to shoot at that really wide aperture for a shallower depth of field, so I’ve doubled in 1.2 as my aperture, 250th of a second, my flash sync speed… ISO 200 the native ISO for my Olympus camera… I’m gonna take a picture without flash just to see what I get. Okay Roger, here we go so… at those settings and without flash I can still see Roger, which means the ambient light and ambient light color is going to combine with the flash and potentially that could ruin my picture. So what I want to do is get control of the light by getting rid of the ambient light in the room. Now I could do that really easily by turning off the room lights, but that has a few problems, the first one being I wouldn’t be able to focus and you wouldn’t be able to see the video, and of course I could change my camera settings, but one of the reasons we can see Roger in this image is because I have such a wide open aperture. If I was to close that down, Roger would disappear, but of course I’d lose the
whole reason four using this particular lens, that’s where high-speed sync flash comes in to save the day. So what I’m looking at is the shutter speed, now normally I’m working at my flash sync speed, 250th of a second for me, high-speed sync flash means I can go past that limitation, but how fast should I go, well the only way to find out for sure is to take some test pictures so let’s do that. I’m going to change my shutter speed to 500th of a second, and take basically the same shot of Roger, and at that setting well I can still see Roger, he’s a little bit darker, but he’s definitely there. Let’s change it again to a 1,000th of a second, take the same shot once more, and Roger is almost gone. I can still see him a little bit so let’s try two thousandths of a second, and that setting… well there’s a few hotspots. I can live with those but basically Roger has disappeared, and that’s what I’m looking for, no flash no picture, from that point I can then add in my own lights, which will be under my control… so I’m controlling the lighting, I’m controlling the colors, it’s just a much better place to work in your small home studio. So let’s add some flash. When I put the trigger on… it actually limits my camera to a shutter speed of 250of a second… that’s the flash sync speed for my Olympus camera… your mileage may vary…. the fastest shutter speed I can go with normal flash, but I need to shoot at 2000th of a second to get to those sorts of shutter speeds… I press the sync button or high-speed sync button on the trigger, and that’s it now. I can choose 2000th of a second and shoot away, so I’m using the flashpoint Explorer 400, and the flashpoint R2 Pro trigger… it’s really important that the trigger and the flash work together as a high-speed sync system. Let’s just take a test picture, see what we get, well it does work but it’s a little bit too bright. Now normally I would reach for my flash meter, and start taking some meter readings, but one of the downsides of high-speed sync is unless you have a very specific flash meter, you can’t meter it, sadly my trusty flash meter doesn’t do the job, but trial and error is perfectly fine. So if that’s too bright, I can just turn the flash down in power, take another shot and that looks fantastic, really nice lighting, nice shallow depth-of-field, and that looks really good, high-speed sync works by effectively strobing the flash as the shutter mechanism passes across the sensor. Now in reality it’s a bit more complicated than this, but it’s remarkably easy to use. Okay so I think everything is set technically… Let’s actually take some photographs… so Roger are you ready? let’s do the shoot. Here we go… want to lift the sword up… yeah, pop it on your shoulder. Alright go for it, So is it where you get to be a little more kind of aggressive.. Okay success give me some smoke… okay well that was fantastic fun, and having Seth here doing the smoke absolute bonus for me! So one more thing you need to know about high speed sync and it is a little gotcha… make sure you do the first bit… about setting the shutter speed… that wasn’t there just to demonstrate how it works… it’s part of the process, because if you change your shutter speed with high speed sync flash, you change the output of the flash… that’s just how it works. Now if you’ve enjoyed this video and well you got a question, leave me a comment below. Click on the bell icon to get regular notifications of all the brand new videos right here on Adorama TV and of course click on that subscribe button. I’m Gavin Hoey thanks for watching.

66 Replies to “HSS Flash in the Studio: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

  1. Thanks for another fun video, & it’s great to see Seth with ya! Cheers! I’d love to see a series with you, Seth & Daniel! 🍻

  2. Someone spends Too Much Time with those subscribe buttons.

    Good video, thanks.

    Do you think you could show the difference between F1.2 and F1.8 with select lenses, maybe for video and stills some time?

  3. Very interesting, thank you. How did you set up the light behind the model, was it also HSS @ the same power setting as the key light?

  4. Another informative and enjoyable video – thank you. And Roger seems to enjoy using that sword to slice and dice which is a good reason to use a zoom lens instead of getting closer.

  5. As all of your videos, I enjoyed it – you allways make awesome photos in that small studio. And what a marvelous caracter to work with. I remember Fuji in the nineties had a comercial ad with a caracter that looked a little like yours, that was so sharp that you could cut your fingers on the image. I got the same feeling with this shoot of yours. Great job Gavin Hoey.

  6. Thank you!!! I found out that some entry level cameras such as the Nikon D5600 does not support high speed sync. That's one of the reasons I upgraded camera bodies. Great tutorial as always. I love your videos!!! It was a treat to see Seth helping you with the smoke. He always mentions that you left a can a smoke for them at the Adorama event space 🙂

  7. So did Seth travel to the UK or did you recreate your entire small home studio at the Adorama offices in NYC? 😁 Another excellent tutorial Gavin 👍

  8. Looks amazing, you should do a behind the scenes video as what it takes to make this type of photo, finding model, find or make props, decide lighting or location scouting to the actual finish product.

  9. Great shots as always….

    But for beginners HSS flash would have been explained a lot better outdoors ie with sun etc

  10. Brilliant video and giving me ideas for future shoots. Was just waiting for Rick Wakeman to start playing King Arthur during the video

  11. Hi Gavin, thanks a lot! One Question: Does the camera body have to match the HSS system of the transmitter exactly? Or is it more about the receiver and the flash unit? Or does every part in the chain have to match exactly? Are there recognisable standards/formats to combine?

  12. Gavin, does anybody make a smoke/Fog machine that you can use w/o a power cable attached? I want to do some scary shots in a woods location and the fog machine has to be powered by battery.

  13. I've been in the market for a light meter and agonized over the best meter for my budget and level of development in photography. Just last night, coincidently, I was experimenting with a shot that had me increase my shutter into HSS territory. The trial and error on the exposure was frustrating and reminded me why I was getting a light meter. I had planned to get the Sekonic L-308U-X, but last night's shoot tipped me off to check out its HSS limits. That particular model can measure a maximum flash speed of 1/500, which is way slower than the 1/1000 shutter I used to get the picture I wanted. I woke up this morning to your post. How fortuitous! For an extra $30, I decided to get a Lumu Power 2 for my iPhone because the Sekonic model that can handle a high enough HSS is twice my current budget. Thank you for the timely, confirming video. 🙏🏾

  14. Mr Gavin Hoey, I want to watch videos more often than you. Your work is extraordinarily beautiful. More videos please .. thanks

  15. What a nice outcome from a couple of simple props and stylistic decisions. Yeah, love that you've mentioned the HSS 'gotcha' kind of unavoidable property that not many photographers realize – that if your flash output remains set constant (or say, at the max power), the faster your shutter speed, the lower the effect of the flash in HSS mode – kind of just how constant or natural lights work, but for different reasons.

  16. Seth Miranda = Smoke 💨 Man 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👏🏼

    Great video. HSS with all its glory is awesome, but must be used with caution.

  17. Wow.. Seth sure does get around 🙂 Great video Gavin, I love working with HSS. Lots to tinker with in that area. Thanks for the video

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *