Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tips for Delayed Flash Photography

I recently had a lot of fun playing around with the delayed flash capabilities of my camera. The basic idea is that the camera takes a long exposure and then flashes at the very end to capture the action and give you a crisp picture, with the most pronounced lights being blurred. If you have ever seen a photo of a car that is in perfect focus, but you see a trail of light from the brake lights, you have seen the results of this trick. I thought I would have some fun and try it out by giving my son a bunch glow bracelets, and letting him jump around on the bed. The result is something like this:

Experimentation With Light Part 2

If you want to do something similar, here are some tips that I learned in the process of doing this:

  1. Use a tripod. Since you will be taking a pretty long exposure, using a sturdy tripod is essential

  2. Set your camera to use a delayed flash. On Olympus E-Series cameras it is called slow2. Most DSLRs should have this capability so look at your instruction manual to find the right setting.

  3. Find a very dark area. We tried it at first outside, but there was enough moonlight for this to not be effective. Using a dark backdrop also helps the colors pop out.

  4. Open up the aperature. A higher aperature (lower number) will let light in easier and help your light source (in this case glow bracelets) show up better. Most of these shots were shot at f2.8.

  5. It is okay to overexpose your shot in these instances to get longer exposure times. Most of these shots were shot at +1ev - +2ev to give Charlie more time to jump around.

  6. Turn on noise reduction (if you have it) on the camera. Long exposures will most certainly add a lot of noise to the photo. Using noise reduction will get rid of most of that noise.

  7. You can buy a canister of 15 glowsticks at Michael's for $1! :)

  8. Have fun!

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