Sunday, February 13, 2011

Short Duration Flash - A Practical Application in Sport

My regular readers will remember the notes on this photograph, a few things came together.
As I arrived at the pool sunlight was burning through the window behind the lanes of swimmers, creating great out of focus highlights (bokeh). The sunlight also helped to highlight the water streaming off her arm and disguises the fact that I used flash.
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I'd recently started at the Sevenoaks Chronicle(1996) and they'd given me a kit which included an Nikon F90 camera and SB26 flash - I'd wanted to get my hands on kit like this since reading about in magazines three years previously.
The flash allowed the photographer to get synchronisation at speeds faster than the usual sync speed of 1/250th, Nikon call it AutoFP. This has another effect it cuts down duration and distance over which it will fire. It is the short duration of the flash which has frozen the water pouring off Laura Tingley's arm. 1/500th would not have frozen it in midair.
I used manual focus and prefocused at a point in the water, (I didn't really trust AF), the settings were ISO 800 film, 1/500th sec f2.8 + flash. It was slightly overexposed on the colour neg. I only had about 10 minutes as it was part of a triathlon and I had other parts of the event to photograph.
On camera flash is essential for pictures such as this, in a live event it would be impractical to use a large device and powerpack.

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