Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Technique Tuesday: Photon Ricochet - Just Because The Flash Is On Camera Doesn't Mean The Photons Need To Coming From That Direction

Good Morning Everybody,
I hope everybody liked the post yesterday. I got a call from my buddy, Kent Smith, who delivered the Canon 5d Mark II to our Canon rep on Sunday, only to convince her to let him borrow it later in the day for some video testing. I just got a call from Kent telling me how fired up he was about the video option - his first tests were fantastic he told me and he can't wait till his arrive.

He has this great idea of shooting the video snippets, tying them into the regular still images and making it available to his senior clients for their I-Pods & I-Phones, etc. He tells me his model was so "fired up" after he showed her some of the short footage and can't wait to get her I-Pod loaded up with the video. All good stuff, you know. As soon as I see his result, I'll give you an update.

Now On To Photon Ricochet
I have been demonstrating this technique for years since I first saw it utilized by my buddy Denis Reggie at my wedding 3 years ago. What happens if we take our on-camera flash, turn it 90 degrees, and bounce it off the wall? I've been bouncing my off-camera flash off the wall for years getting great results. Now with the much faster lenses, the higher ISO's being built into the cameras, and the ability to use apertures much wider than in the old medium format camera days, this technique can create much better lighting on the scene than Uncle Harry's on-camera "blast flash" technique. Hit the PLAY button below and learn how to play Photon Ricochet. Enjoy! -David

A Few Quick Points Of Clarification:
Last week I discussed how to use Hi-Speed Flash Sync on Technique Tuesday. It seems it's the HOT tropic these days. I just got wind that there is another great piece on the same subject over at Pixsylated.com. Here is the link. That's to our buddy, Scott Kelby, over at Photoshop Insider for the heads up. Anyway, in last week's tutorial, "Rocket Speed Flash Sync" [link] two questions came up that I thought I would help clarify here whick I think are also answered over at Pixsylated.com, but anyway, here goes.

#1. If the flash were just "staying on" during the exposure, then the faster shutter speed would darken both the sky and the model.

That is exactly correct. The sky gets darker since it can now be controlled and darkened with a higher shutter speed. The shadows on the subject will also get darker too since they represent ambient light which is being reduced by the higher shutter speed.

#2. The gap between the curtains is just getting smaller but it still takes 1/250 for it to travel from top to bottom? Does this mean that the time from when the first light hits the sensor until the last light leaves the sensor is always the camera's highest NATIVE sync speed - 1/250 in this case?

The short and sweet answer is YES. But remember this, if the camera is set to 1/250 second, the actual flash duration could be MUCH shorter. It's only when "High Speed Flash" is used that the flash duration must be extended for the total time it takes the shutter to traverse the sensor - hence, the major power hit to the strobe when using this technique. It's still all Harry Potter magic the way this stuff works these day!

Hey gang, that's it for me today. Check back tomorrow for our scintillating podcast, "Should We Shoot The "Shoot and Burn" Wedding Photographer". No nasty emails yet please - give the podcast a good listen first. You may be surprised with what you hear. See ya' tomorrow. -David


  1. Good evening from sunny Spain!
    I was enjoying the video, but it wont go beyond the scene with the Bride posing alongside the piano (8 mins or so)

  2. great tutorial! awesome information as always.
    my wife is really loving your philosophy of making the most out of the gear you have (using great technique with inexpensive gear).

    keep up the awesomely inspirational work and tutorials...

  3. David-
    Great post! I like how you show the before & after as well as the set up! Quick and easy! Seems like often enough some of the best shots come with very little setup! I am hoping to upgrade from my D50 to the D300 or 700 (for the ISO!)
    You have a wonderful eye and a very recognizable style. Always a pleasure to give your blog a troll.
    A note on the "shoot & burn", for what it's worth, I like to offer a disc of 400x600 watermarked images for the client to use for a screen saver, networking site or what not. Great free advertising!
    And if you ever need a second shooter in the Seattle area, drop me a line!