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Low shutter speeds with a flash in a dark setting

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by panda81, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. panda81


    Feb 7, 2008
    I was thinking about the following: I have trouble taking sharp handheld shots with my camera + grip + a heavy lens at shutter speeds around 1/60. (Now, I know need to improve my handholding technique, but that's not where this is going).

    My question is: if I use a flash in a dark setting (specifically, an evening wedding reception with very dim ambient light) then can I get away with lower shutter speeds that would normally give me blurry pictures? Logically, it seems like since the flash will provide an instantaneous burst of light on my subject, then even if the shutter speed is a little slower, the blur caused by my poor handholding technique will not be captured since the burst of light is what will really be freezing motion.

    In this situation, I am assuming that if I take the photo without the flash using the same settings, there won't be enough ambient light to capture any details at all. However, I would like a lower shutter speed so ambient light can help contribute the tone of the evening.

    Anyway, this will be a situation I'll be facing in a few weeks for the first time, so your experience and input will be much appreciated!
  2. Muonic


    Jun 14, 2006
    If this is the case, then you shouldn't have a problem with motion blur....think of a completely dark room, for example. BUT, the ambient light won't be contributing much to the picture, either. It's a balancing act. The slower your shutter speed, the more ambient light you let into the camera, and thus the more likely you will get motion blur, because of the slow shutter speed. Sort of a Catch 22. Practice shots in advance, at the actual location would be of great help here.
  3. If you are in a dark room the shutter speed when taking flash pictures may be set at anything you want up to the sync speed of the camrea (normally 1/250). I like to set my SS at 1/125th and the aperature at f5.6. When shooting like this in a darkened room the ambient light makes little or no contribution and the flash provides all of the light for the subject(s). One thing you don't want to do is to chase the ambient light to the point that your SS is not hand holdable. Of course you could also raise your ISO to the point that what little ambient light there is, does make a contribution. There are always tradeoffs with flash photography and understanding what controls what is all important to being successful at it. By the way, the flash is very very fast (approx. 1/8000 of a second) and that is why SS has no effect in a darkened room.
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