Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Technique Tuesday: My Cheatin’ Flash – Or How To Shoot Flash Photography Faster Than The Native Sync Speed

Good Morning Everybody,

CBTL Leg 5 We kicked off leg 5 of our Captured By The Light 2010 tour [link] with an enthusiastic crowd of over 200 strong in Washington D.C. last night. Everyone sure seemed like they had a good time.

This morning we head over to Philadelphia and are looking forward to seeing our good friends in that part of the country. Then it’s on to Newark and Boston for the rest of the week. 

Oversize Load I’ve mentioned that we drive to most of our cities with our Grand Caravan “loaded to the gills” as they say.  When we are hitting the biggest cities of the tour like we are this week, our mini van is loaded up and pretty packed with our gear, tour handbooks, vendor literature, and tour supplies which were all shipped in for the week.  The vehicle drives more like a boat than a car till we get some of the supplies unloaded in the upcoming cities ;~) Anyway, looking forward to the week and can’t wait to make a few new friends along the way!

My Cheatin’ Flash – Or How To Shoot Flash Photography Faster Than The Native Sync Speed

500 cm I am re-running this tutorial today because I think it is such a cool technique and has some great day to day applications especially for wedding photographers.  It’s also a little peek at what I discuss during our CBTL tour.

Back in the film days I used to shoot with a Hasselblad 500 CM [link] medium format camera.  I loved the camera – it was the de facto wedding camera for most wedding photographers.

One feature that most of us loved was the fact that it would sync up to 1/500 second with our strobes.  That was really important when shooting outdoors in bright sunlight – the higher flash sync speed made for easier control of the ambient light when trying to create a dramatic image for our clients.

With today’s digital cameras we are not so lucky.  Most only sync up to 1/250 second and some even slower than that.  That’s why I developed my “Cheatin’ Flash” technique.  It gets me pretty close to the faster shutter speeds I’d grown accustomed to with my Hasselblad. Hit the PLAY button below and see how I get by with the higher shutter speeds on today’s digital cameras.  Enjoy the show!


Hey gang, that’s it for me today. We’ll be back in town next week for my Master Class and I’ll try for a fresh Technique Tuesday. We are pulling out for Philly in just a few minutes so how about I see  you tonight in the the City of Brotherly Love or tomorrow morning for another episode of The One That Got Away.

See ya’ soon,  David


  1. Great post David, however I'm baffled as how you increase the shutter speed, I'm a Nikon shooter and I've tried every mode available and read the manual and can't find a way to increase shutter speed when using flash, the camera wont let me go higher than 1/250. Any advice?

  2. In your video, it was referenced on top "Using High Speed Sync Flash". As I understood it, HSS was not being used which would not create the darker area on the image. Was this just a misnomer or did I misunderstand it? Anyone else?

  3. I'd like to comment on the Philadelphia Seminar last evening. I attended the session and sat in the very first row. The four hour seminar was "jammed" packed with information and wow ... the door prizes were phenomenal (even though I didn't win one).

    Dave has so much energy, excitement and enthusiasm that he kept me up till 3 am this morning just going over my seminar notes.

    Although we (or in this case - I), always strive for simplicity, we seem to still make things too complicated. Dave has inspired me to get simple in my photography techniques.

    I learned a tremendous amount of valuable information last night ... now its time to jump into action.

    Thanks Dave for sharing so many tips and techniques.

  4. Thanks for coming to Philadelphia. The seminar was phenomenal. I had a blast working with LaDawn, she is a real go-get-her and super wonderful to work with. Setting up and working with her was a pleasure.