New Workshop! Lighting 3 | Advanced Off Camera Flash

Tips & Tricks

How to Shoot a Great Portrait in Direct Sunlight Using Speedlights

By Paul Faecks on May 18th 2014

This awesome video tutorial comes from the folks of  The Slanted Lens. Jay P. Morgan shows you how he put together a shoot for a world famous trick roper. He creates two different looks; For the first look, he froze the motion of the rope and for the second look, he blurred the rope by dragging his shutter speed. He further lit his subject with a speedlight in a portable Photoflex softbox.

[REWIND: How to balance strobes with ambient light]

Every photographer knows that direct, harsh sunlight doesn’t look very flattering in general, Jay gives tips on how to change that.

Solutions for Making Harsh Sunlight Look Better:

  • Place your subject so it has the sun in the back
  • Underexpose your ambient light
  • Expose your subject using a speedlight

How to Create 2 Different Looks Without A Lot Of Effort

Basically,  Jay created two different styles of the final image by changing his shutter speed.

For the first look, he used a shutter speed of 1/200 of a second to freeze the rope in motion. The shutter speed was possible because he used speedlights rather than studio strobes that usually sync at a slower speed.


For the second image style, he dragged his shutter speed all the way down to 1/50 of a second. This relatively long exposure time allowed him to blur out the rope and get that sense of fast movement in his final photograph. Because the talent didn’t move as quick as the rope, he remained tack sharp.

Publicity-Shoot-with-Speedlites-2-682x1024As you can see the outcome of this technique is quite pleasing

Try this technique out on your shoots this week. Have fun using this technique in your own photographs and keep shooting. Or how Jay P. Morgan would say it: Keep those cameras roll’n and keep on click’n.

[via The Slanted Lens]

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Paul Faecks is a portrait- and fine art photographer, based in Berlin. If you want to check out his latest work, you can do so by following him on Instagram or by liking his Facebook Page

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rafael Steffen

    Thanks for sharing this amazing toutorial on how to get the most out of a flash unit using all combinations.

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  2. Jon Haverstick

    Eugene – I have not watched the video, but when shooting in this situation, if the photographer is shooting in high-speed sync mode (i.e.,at a faster shutter speed than would normally sync – so, say, 1/200 or higher), the effective output of the speedlight is reduced. Thus, you either shoot at a higher power setting on the flash, or gang together multiple speedlights to compensate for the lost efficiency.

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  3. eugene sarigumba


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    • Da

      The changing of the speedlite, is because you need to lower the shutter speed to let the rope blurs, means more light and means you need to drag the aperture smaller to compensate the ambient light.

      Remember that flashes work directly with aperture, not shutter speed. Smaller aperture, more flash you will need.

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  4. mary

    I LIKE it!

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