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Subject: "Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curta..." Previous topic | Next topic
luckyphoto Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Dec 2010Thu 12-May-11 02:48 AM
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"Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curtain synch?"


Port Charlotte, US
          

While I'm searching the Internet on the subject I wanted to ask if anyone has seen a decent article or past post about tips and tricks when using front and rear curtain synch.

I know what curtain synch is and how to set it up so a basic course isn't what I'm after.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks

Larry

"Red is gray and yellow white, but we decide which is right
....and which is an illusion"

Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear c...
blw Moderator
12th May 2011
1
Reply message RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear c...
ScottChapin Moderator
12th May 2011
2
Reply message RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear c...
luckyphoto Silver Member
12th May 2011
3
     Reply message RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear c...
jherrel Silver Member
12th May 2011
4
Reply message RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear c...
HBB Moderator
12th May 2011
5
Reply message RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear c...
luckyphoto Silver Member
12th May 2011
6
     Reply message RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear c...
luckyphoto Silver Member
12th May 2011
7
          Reply message RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear c...
HBB Moderator
13th May 2011
8
               Reply message RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear c...
luckyphoto Silver Member
13th May 2011
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                    Reply message RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear c...
bernardcollin
13th May 2011
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HBB Moderator
13th May 2011
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                         Reply message RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear c...
bernardcollin
14th May 2011
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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Thu 12-May-11 06:55 AM
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#1. "RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curtain synch?"
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond, US
          

I'm not sure what you're after. Front curtain sync is the standard flash. Rear curtain sync is typically used for moving subjects where you want to have a motion smear but have the final part of the image frozen and emphasized, for example a baseball hitter swinging the bat, with the bat frozen but a 'swoosh' behind it.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

  

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ScottChapin Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in various areas, including Aviation and Birds Photography Charter MemberThu 12-May-11 10:24 AM
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#2. "RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curtain synch?"
In response to Reply # 0


Powder Springs, US
          

To add to Brian's comments, rear sync is used to drag the shutter. When you are shooting indoors as an example, it will allow slow shutter speeds to balance the ambient lighting.

Scott Chapin
Powder Springs, GA, USA
Nikonians Team Member

  

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luckyphoto Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Dec 2010Thu 12-May-11 12:51 PM
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#3. "RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curtain synch?"
In response to Reply # 2


Port Charlotte, US
          

Appreciate you getting back to me so quickly. I know what curtain synch is and the effects of ambient light. I was trying to find out if anyone on this forum had previously posted some tips and tricks that would provide additional detail of what works and what doesn't.

As originally posted, I've also been looking on the Internet and did find some articles, plus a bit of info on the Strobist forum.

I've got a shoot coming up in a couple of weeks and had an idea for a rear curtain shot. Just wanted to plan as best I could given the short lead time.

Thanks again for the replies.

Larry

"Red is gray and yellow white, but we decide which is right
....and which is an illusion"

Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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jherrel Silver Member Nikonian since 08th Apr 2007Thu 12-May-11 02:18 PM
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#4. "RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curtain synch?"
In response to Reply # 3


Elgin, US
          

One issue to beware of is very slow shutter speeds. When using Rear Curtain Sync and Aperture Priority, there is no lower limit to the shutter speed. The shutter speed will be set by the ambient light level for your aperture and ISO. Since you probably want to under expose the ambient and have the flash properly illuminate your subject, use camera manual combined with TTL for the flash. With camera manual you can decide how slow a shutter speed is acceptable.

John Herrel
Nikonian from South Carolina
See the light, capture the essence!

  

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HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Charter MemberThu 12-May-11 05:19 PM
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#5. "RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curtain synch?"
In response to Reply # 0
Thu 12-May-11 07:01 PM by HBB

Phoenix, US
          

Larry:

I have used rear curtain sync many times over the last ten years while shooting night shots of law enforcement officers in various tactical scenarios. Attached are three images, each quite different.

All images captured with D2X, at ISO of 100, and rear curtain sync using two to twelve SB800 speedlights. Shutter speed and aperture obviously manual. I almost never use any of the automated features of the cameras in my work.

Top Image

One second shutter time, 10.5 mm Nikkor fisheye at F/8.0, with two SB800s, one on either side clamped to the rear windows, firing at rear curtain. The camera was on a tripod held down firmly to the floor of the vehicle, which was moving at 15 miles per hour, or 22 feet during the one second shutter speed. The illuminated building signs were very blurred due to the road being under construction and very rough. The multiple copies of the single "No Right Turn" sign at the right side of the image were created by the patrol car's light bar strobe flashing repeatedly during the one second shutter time. All settings were manual mode, and the speedlight power settings were established prior to beginning the run up Central Avenue.


Middle Image

This image used my entire herd of twelve SB800s, all in either SU-4 or Manual mode (I can't remember which). The shutter time was 13 seconds, using the 12-24 mm Nikkor at 12 mm and F/8.0.

The van driver received a radio call to begin his run off camera to the left, when the shutter opened. At exactly 12.5 seconds, he stopped where you see him, just prior to the SB800s firing at rear curtain sync. Once the shot was set up, it took four or five test runs with a stop watch to establish the required timing. Following that, four or five runs over about thirty minutes were required to capture the image seen here. Total time on site: Seven hours.

The CLS TTL exposure setting is obviously useless here, as the subject is not in view when the preflash exposure calculation sequence would be executed.

The look on the van driver's face is his concern for running into me. When he stopped he was no more than four or five feet from me.


Bottom Image

This image is one second shutter time, Nikkor 14-24 mm at 19 mm and F/8.0, with three SB800s on rear curtain used to illuminate the officers firing machine guns on full automatic. This setup captures several of the empty casings being ejected from the machine guns, and allows the smoke bomb at my feet to disperse toward the officers. Front curtain would have missed all of these effects.

On the previous shot inthis series, the wind shifted suddenly and completely enveloped the officers. All I got was a big cloud of white smoke, with fire balls dimly visible within it. No sign of the officers.


Conclusion/Explanation

Speedlight photography usually involves simultaneously capturing two images in one frame: one illuminated by ambient lighting, and the other by the secondary illumination, or speedlights. The question is, what balance or ratio between ambient and speedlight illumination produces the desired effect? The answer is, the ratio can be anything from ambient dominant, to secondary dominant, or evenly balanced. It all depends on the desired end result.

The next question concerns the subject or subjects. Are they stationary or moving relative to the camera? Are some subjects stationary while others are moving? Is the camera moving: if yes, relative to what frame of reference?

Front versus rear curtain sync is next, and is largely determined by the answers to the questions above. In all three images above, I chose rear curtain.

In the top image, the vehicle is moving relative to the external surroundings which are fairly well illuminated by street lights and the signs in front of the buildings. That said, the camera is stationary relative to the vehicle, but moving relative to the external surroundings. The aperture and shutter speed combination were selected to provide a proper exposure for the external surroundings. It turned out that a one second shutter time was perfect at F/8.0 for the ambient exposure and motion of the vehicle. The speedlight power settings were then selected to provide the proper exposure for the interior of the vehicle and the occupants.

In the middle image, there is essentially no ambient illumination. I wanted to capture the moving vehicle's flashing lights as it approached me, and then light it up with the twelve SB800s using rear curtain sync. Thus rear curtain is the only possible solution to get the desired effect.

The bottom image includes no ambient illumination either. I wanted the fire balls from the guns to burn in and the smoke to envelope the officers prior to firing the speedlights. I also wanted as many of the empty cartridges floating in air around the officers as possible. While I could have shot using front curtain sync, the smoke would not be as diffuse, and I would not capture as many empties as is the case with rear curtain sync, as not as many of them would have been ejected. The machine guns were firing in continuous mode, which is 750 rounds per minute. In the one second shutter time, approximately 38 rounds were fired.

I hope these images help a bit. If you would like additional detail and discussion, let me know and we can continue.

If this doesn't help, give us a brief description of your planned shot and we can go from there.

Regards,

HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
Nikonian Team Member

Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.








Attachment #1, (jpg file)
Attachment #2, (jpg file)
Attachment #3, (jpg file)

  

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luckyphoto Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Dec 2010Thu 12-May-11 08:15 PM
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#6. "RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curtain synch?"
In response to Reply # 5


Port Charlotte, US
          

Perfect, excellent! This is the type of info I was looking for.

This technique will be used to shoot a dancer on the beach, just after the sun sets (while the colors are still somewhat in the sky), thus won't have a lot of time for mistakes. That's why it was important to find as many tips and tricks as possible before the shoot. I'll also be practicing this week so I'm comfortable using both front and rear curtain synch photos.

If they come out well, I'll post one.

Thanks for taking the time for the detailed responses.

Larry

Larry

"Red is gray and yellow white, but we decide which is right
....and which is an illusion"

Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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luckyphoto Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Dec 2010Thu 12-May-11 08:20 PM
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#7. "RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curtain synch?"
In response to Reply # 6


Port Charlotte, US
          

I forgot to mention, those are some awesome photos. Thanks

Larry

"Red is gray and yellow white, but we decide which is right
....and which is an illusion"

Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Charter MemberFri 13-May-11 12:20 AM
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#8. "RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curtain synch?"
In response to Reply # 7


Phoenix, US
          

Larry:

Glad I could help.

Now that I know a bit more about your planned shoot, you may want to consider placing the tungsten gels on your speedlights and setting your camera's white balance to tungsten also. If you have a red sunset behind the subject it may be somewhere around 2800 to 3200 K, a very reddish/yellow color temperature. Using your speedlights without the tungsten gels will produce a very blue/white illumination on the subject. The combination of different color temperatures may look unnatural in this setting, with portions of the subject reflecting the reddish/yellow ambient illumination and other portions reflecting the blue/white speedlight illumination. The color of the subject's clothing also plays a role in this process.

While the automatic white balance setting in cameras does a nice job, too great a color temperature difference between ambient and ungelled speedlight illumination can produce less than ideal results. My personal preference in situations like this is to create an image that looks like it was illuminated with a constant color temperature light source, and the fill flash is executed in a manner that is adequate, but not obvious.

While you didn't specify, I'm guessing the dancer will be moving, hence the need for rear curtain sync. Once you have selected the aperture for the desired depth of field, you will have to select a shutter speed that provides the desired dancer movement while the shutter is open. This may take some tinkering to achieve the right combination of shutter/aperture.

If you are waiting until the sun is below the horizon, you will have to work fast, as the light and color temperature can change quickly. Perhaps a series of test shots a day or two prior will establish the aperture and shutter speed settings for the ambient illumination, and a stand-in can be used to establish the speedlight power levels. You can also use this time to explore color temperature settings in the camera.

Without being there with my color temperature meter, it is hard to tell what will produce the best results. It may be tungsten gels on the speedlights and the camera's white balance set to tungsten. Or, it might be gels on the speedlights and a custom white balance setting in the camera, depending on the sky, clouds, etc. With this early exercise out of the way, you will have more time to explore different poses with the real model on the appointed evening.

Let us see some results if possible.

Regards,

HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
Nikonian Team Member

Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.

  

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luckyphoto Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Dec 2010Fri 13-May-11 01:14 AM
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#9. "RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curtain synch?"
In response to Reply # 8


Port Charlotte, US
          

HBB - You're reading my mind. The practice this week will be right after sunset to get the approximate light levels. Already have the tungsten gels and a softbox. Good point about the difference in the WB ranges. I'd love to have a minimal light on the subject to make sure the ambient light motion isn't lost and use the flash to freeze the final position of the dancer, but getting power to the beach would be an issue. I'll work it out somehow.

I'll probably try both just before and after the sun actually sets. Who knows, I might get lucky.

These tips are absolutely priceless. Thanks.

Larry

"Red is gray and yellow white, but we decide which is right
....and which is an illusion"

Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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bernardcollin Registered since 03rd Apr 2011Fri 13-May-11 10:27 AM
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#10. "RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curtain synch?"
In response to Reply # 9
Fri 13-May-11 10:28 AM by bernardcollin

bangkok, TH
          

HBB and Larry and others...,

Thanks a lot for asking the question and for such a detailled and clear set of answers. I have been struggling to understand rear curtain, though the physical principle is easy to grasp, this kind of situation is what needs explanation.

I also now understand the need to go full manual on the camera to have the control we want because I was trying Aperture mode and my shutter speed was so low...

Thanks for the tip on the gel, I was also struggling a bit with this, it is now clearer...

Great shots by the way, and thanks a lot for the lesson

bernard

my photos on: http://bernardcollin.smugmug.com/

  

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HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Charter MemberFri 13-May-11 07:58 PM
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#11. "RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curtain synch?"
In response to Reply # 10
Fri 13-May-11 10:59 PM by HBB

Phoenix, US
          

Bernard:

Welcom to Nikonians and thank you for joining this discussion. It is nice to have you with us. I hope you enjoy your time in the various forums.

Concerning your comment about full manual:

Photography involves just four variables relating to exposure:

1) Aperture
2) Shutter Speed
3) ISO
4) Illumination.

These four variables are all related in a simple equation:

(N^2)/(t) = (LS)/(K)

Where:

N = Aperture (F/number)
t = Time in seconds
L = Luminance (Illumination) in Candelas per meter squared
S = ISO Number
K = Reflected metering constant (12.5)

In words: Aperture squared divided by time equals Luminance times ISO divided by the metering constant.

Given any three of the variables (N, t, L, or S), one can easily solve for the fourth. When a camera is in one of its automatic modes, it is simply solving this equation and selecting the appropriate combination of parameters: shutter speed, aperture, ISO (if auto ISO is on), or illumination (if speedlight is in use).

It is useful to remember that the camera's meter is measuring reflected ambient illumination only, and it will always attempt to render the image in a neutral tone. As a result, bright white subjects will be underexposed, while dark colored subjects will be overexposed, as the camera tries for a neutral tone. This is one of the major reasons for switching to full manual mode. There are many others.

The illumination variable can occur in one of three basic forms:

1) Ambient only: Illumination the photographer cannot usually control (exterior daylight, interior room lights, street lamps, etc.)
2) Supplemental only: Illumination the photographer can completely control (speedlights, studio strobes, hot studio lights, etc.)
3) Some combination of 1) and 2) above.

Full manual control of all four variables allows the photographer to achieve the desired final image in ways the automatic modes of the camera cannot. Nothing is left to the camera to decide, the photographer has complete control. Examples include: deliberate under or over exposure; slow shutter speed to capture movement; a non-typical ratio between ambient and supplemental illumination, etc.

Yes, full manual is more work in the beginning and is obviously not practical for many fast moving events like sports, weddings, etc.

When setting up a full manual mode shot that involves a mixture of ambient and speedlight illumination, I first select an aperture that will give me the desired depth of field. Then I select a shutter speed that provides the desire ambient-only illumination. Then I turn the speedlights on and select a power setting that provides the appropriate supplemental illumination (speedlights), in the desired balance or ratio with the ambient.

A variation of the above involves a scene with a moving subject, and I want the subject blurred to suggest movement. In this case, I will select the shutter speed that captures the movement, then select an aperture that provides the desired ambient exposure, which may or may not provide the desired depth of field. Sometimes a compromise is necessary. Finally, I turn on the speedlghts and select the power level and rear curtain sync.

I hope this sheds a bit more light on the questions.

Thanks to all of you for a great thread.

Regards,

HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
Nikonian Team Member

Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.

  

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bernardcollin Registered since 03rd Apr 2011Sat 14-May-11 07:23 AM
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#12. "RE: Any good tips and tricks for using front and rear curtain synch?"
In response to Reply # 10


bangkok, TH
          

Thanks a lot for this very good explanation, it is all clear! I just need to practice now...
This forum has a fantastic group of supportive people, it is really great
bernard

my photos on: http://bernardcollin.smugmug.com/

  

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