Up and Running with Studio Strobes
Illustration by

Up and Running with Studio Strobes

with Abba Shapiro and Richard Harrington

Video: Setting shutter sync speed

Well, now we're ready to actually start taking some pictures. And if we look at our monitor, we can see that it is well balanced and I'm going to just bring it down to a 30th of a second, and we'll take a shot.
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  1. 4m 6s
    1. Welcome
      2m 4s
    2. What you should know to get the most from this course
      2m 2s
  2. 6m 26s
    1. Shooting with strobes
      1m 23s
    2. Strobe lighting allows you to shoot with an increased depth of field
    3. Strobe lighting has faster recharge times than flashes
      1m 39s
    4. Strobe lighting is good at freezing action
    5. Strobe lighting offers many modifiers to shape light
      1m 38s
  3. 7m 34s
    1. Continuous lighting is easier for a beginner to understand
      1m 47s
    2. Continuous lighting makes it easier to achieve soft-light looks
      2m 57s
    3. Continuous lighting is useful if mixing video into the shoot
      2m 50s
  4. 20m 47s
    1. Buying piecemeal vs. buying a kit
      2m 29s
    2. Criteria for selecting lights
      5m 57s
    3. How many lights do you need?
      3m 0s
    4. How much power do you need
      5m 37s
    5. Mixing brands
      3m 44s
  5. 16m 40s
    1. Monolights and flash heads
      2m 22s
    2. Reflectors and diffusers
      3m 54s
    3. Lighting stands and booms
      3m 49s
    4. Power pack or power supplies
      4m 29s
    5. Sync cable
      2m 6s
  6. 19m 7s
    1. Handling the lamp or bulb
      2m 52s
    2. The role of the modeling light
      4m 36s
    3. Keeping lights cool
      1m 46s
    4. The master and slave relationship for lighting
      4m 5s
    5. Essential controls
      5m 48s
  7. 14m 59s
    1. Connecting the sync cable
      3m 16s
    2. Using a wireless transmitter
      7m 7s
    3. Slaving with a speedlight
      4m 36s
  8. 34m 6s
    1. Setting shutter sync speed
      4m 56s
    2. Setting an initial aperture and ISO
      2m 28s
    3. Controlling power output
      3m 1s
    4. Moving lights (the inverse-square rule)
      2m 8s
    5. Using a light meter in camera
      4m 4s
    6. Using an external light meter
      1m 45s
    7. Test shooting with one light at a time
      2m 5s
    8. Putting it all together
      1m 39s
    9. Controlling exposure with power or aperture
      1m 6s
    10. Refining exposure with ISO
      1m 39s
    11. Tethering to a laptop
      5m 22s
    12. Checking the shots on a computer
      3m 53s
  9. 31m 38s
    1. Modifying strobe lights
      1m 9s
    2. Bouncing the light with a reflector
      4m 26s
    3. Bouncing the light with a bounce card
      1m 12s
    4. Shaping the light with a beauty dish
      3m 5s
    5. Diffusing the light with an umbrella
      5m 50s
    6. Diffusing the light with a softbox
      4m 49s
    7. Focusing the light with a snoot
      6m 58s
    8. Modeling the light with grids and honeycombs
      2m 2s
    9. Using flags to restrict the light
      2m 7s
  10. 14m 50s
    1. Three-light setup
      6m 52s
    2. Three-light dramatic portrait
      4m 59s
    3. Four-light setup
      2m 59s
  11. 46m 56s
    1. Take the challenge
    2. Solution
    3. Portrait challenge 1
      8m 6s
    4. Portrait challenge 2
      3m 10s
    5. Portrait challenge 3
      12m 55s
    6. Portrait challenge 4
      3m 19s
    7. Portrait challenge 5
      4m 28s
    8. Portrait challenge 6
      9m 5s
    9. Portrait challenge 7
      4m 29s
  12. 39s
    1. Next steps

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Watch the Online Video Course Up and Running with Studio Strobes
3h 37m Beginner Nov 15, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, Rich Harrington and Abba Shapiro give beginning photographers a brisk look at using strobe lights in a studio setting—lessons that easily translate to the field and locations, inside and out. Learn why shooting with strobes and continuous lighting makes such a big impact on your photographs, and how to buy a good, affordable starter kit. Rich and Abba also show how to set your gear up, trigger your lights, and make modifications with accessories like reflectors, umbrellas, and soft boxes. Finally, learn how to make the most of what you have in a series of lighting challenges.

Topics include:
  • Why shoot with strobes?
  • Buying a lighting setup or parts
  • Mixing brands
  • Understanding the components of a studio strobe kit
  • Getting to know your lights
  • Triggering a light
  • Setting up your lights effectively
  • Testing your strobes
  • Modifying strobe lights
Abba Shapiro Richard Harrington

Setting shutter sync speed

Well, now we're ready to actually start taking some pictures. But there are some basics that you need to know. And the first thing you need to know is, what speed do you set your shutter for? When you're not shooting with strobe lights, you can actually set your shutter to any speed you want, and the aperture will compensate for it. Or if you have a speed light on top of your camera, it will automatically sync up, but this is a different world. There is something called a sync speed for each camera, and it does vary but it's in a range, and usually it's between about 100 and 250th of a second.

And it's best to look up in the manual or online, what is the ideal sink speed for your specific camera. Now I'm working with a Canon here, and 125 is perfect for a Canon in this environment. Rich's camera is a Nikon. And, it has a shutter sync speed of 200 that works well. So I want to show you the difference with setting the shutter to 125, what happens when you set it to 60, and what happens when you go over that number, that 125, if I jump to 250 or 500.

So let me go ahead and start adjusting my shutter speed. Here I have it at 125, and I just have it at a default setting of F9.5. So now I'm ready to take a picture. And I need a reference shot. So Rick, could you bring me something in that we could actually shoot, so that they can see the difference between different shutter speeds in this environment, and the only thing I'm going to change is shutter speed. Now what Rich is putting up is actually a very useful tool, if you notice it's black, white, and gray.

It's a grayscale card, and it's great to use these to make sure your scene is not over exposed or under exposed. And this is great to use in your post processing. For instance when we open this up in Lightroom, I can simply sample and tell the computer and tell the application, what is truly black, what is truly white, and what is gray. So now that we have something to shoot, let me go ahead and aim and take a quick picture. And if we look at our monitor, we can see that it is well balanced and I'm going to turn on the info screen, and I can see it's 125th of a second.

What if I slowed it down to say 160th of a second, or 130th of a second. Traditionally, that means that the scene would be brighter. I'm going to just bring it down to a 30th of a second, and we'll take a shot. Now you'll notice the scene looks exactly the same. As a matter of fact, if I play this scene back, between the previous and the following one, that's a 30th of a second, and that's my 125th of a second. The reason the light is exactly the same, is because these flashes are popping way faster than my shutter.

Maybe a 500th of a second, and maybe even a 8000th of a second, depending on the light and how much power output, the duration of the flash is directly related to how bright they are. So if it's brighter, if you make the image brighter, the flash just stays on a little bit longer, so maybe it's one 500th of a second. If you make it less bright, it may only stay on for one 8000ths of a second. The important thing to realize, is that in either case that flash is faster than my shutter speed. Now I'm going to flip it around and show you what happens if you turn the shutter speed up, if you bring it above the sync speed.

So instead of shooting at 130th or 125th, I'm going to actually shoot at maybe one 500th. Now, if you notice, we're only seeing part of the image. It's because, with a camera, you actually have an opening and a closing shutter. You have two shutters, and it's actually blocking the image. If I step this down to close. To my maximum shutter speed, say one 250th of a second.

You'll notice that we're still blocking with a horizontal bar part of the image, but a lot less of it is blocked as we approach the proper sync speed. If I take it down one more notch. In this case, to 180. You can see, it's very clean. I'm going to keep it at 125, and that just gives me a little bit of a cushion. So, the best sync speed for your camera is available in the manual, and on the internet.

But, I always like to run a series of tests whenever I get a new camera, to find out the best shutter sync speed for me when I'm shooting with strobes.

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