Single Light Techniques – Part 2

If you managed to catch my last post about Single Light Techniques, you’ll understand why I like them so much. If you didn’t…. you can read it here first .

Now I’ll start this little tutorial by saying I am a High Speed Sync (HSS) novice- as I write this, I’ve been using HSS for a little over two weeks. But, in those two weeks I’ve gone through all of the emotions of falling in love with a beautiful woman; Attraction, rejection, admiration, lust and then finally comfort. I’ve long admired the technique of photographers who can use HSS techniques effectively, more so when shooting inside of a studio. And I wanted to be able to do that.

So as I approach all of my learning I set up my lights, got my model in front and started a process of trial and error. Within three frames I had the exact effect I wanted. As people who know me already know, I don’t work in mathematical terms with my lighting, for me you can throw you inverse square laws and calculations out of the window. I just don’t work that way. I find the light I like and I stick to it, If I need to change it, I do it by eye, not by a light meter or a histogram.

So here is my set up, each of the images you see directly below we’re shot with this exact set up. I used my Pixapro CITI600 Light with the Pixapro Easy Open Octabox with  both diffusion panels in place.  My light was placed about 45 degrees to the model and myself, meaning that I’m not going to get too much fall off on the opposite side of the face. I was triggering the light through the Pixapro STiii system which enable me to shoot at speeds of up to 1/8000th.





1/3200sec, F2, ISO 100           Model – Deaann Shotton – Tyne Tees Models


Using this effect means that I can shoot at extremely shallow apertures while still freezing the subject with flash, and without letting in too much ambient light. That’s a winner for me. The image above is one of my favourite images so far from 2016.



1/4000sec, F1.8, ISO 100       Model – Jamie Yates – Tyne Tees Models

For this image of Jamie I added a second light just level with his left shoulder to add a little bit of interested on that side of the face. It was set to a lower power so not to get a uniform exposure across the face but just to give a little detail to the shadows.

One thing to remember when shooting at these apertures is that any movement there is either in camera or by the model after the focus has been set with result in the focus being off whether it’s a little movement or a lot. So be conscious if you’re looking for a really crisp exposure to talk to your model and minimise any movement during the shot. By all means encourage lots of changes of pose and expression, but ask them to freeze it for a second or so for each look.

Although I prefer using this technique inside my studio, you can also achieve sensationally looking images outdoors with it too, especially in very bright conditions.

I ventured outside with the model below, about 30ft from my studio to the church across the road. The sun was absolutely beating down, with very little cloud cover and it was very very bright.


With this set up I was shooting pretty much straight into the sun which was over the left shoulder of our model. I still wanted to have some detail in the sky and given how bright it was, I needed to dramatically reduce the amount of ambient light in the scene. The only way to do this was to raise my shutter speed. I raised my speed to 1/5000 sec, this allowed just the right amount of light to enter the sensor to maintain some detail and colour in the sky. I then positioned my model against the wall with my light and octabox to her left and slightly in front so that I could shoot along the wall. I wanted some subtle leading lines coming in from the brickwork, and a shallow aperture to really highlight our subject.



1/5000sec, F2, ISO 100       Model – Grace Bungoni – Tyne Tees Models

Now without going too far into technical details (as I don’t like talking technically) the simple way to make any off camera flash image work is to use your variables effectively. Remembering that your shutter speed controls your Ambient light, you aperture controls how much light your camera lets in and your ISO is (for me) a last resort if you need that little bit of extra help. Brett Harkness explains this very well with his “Triangle of Loveliness” on his DVD’s- well worth a watch!

So there it is, another incredibly simple set up that can yield tremendous results.

Thanks for reading chaps, have a great day!

See a YouTube tutorial below on using High Speed Sync in the Studio;



Commercial Photographer Newcastle



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