Action Sports Photography in Low Light
I am trying to shoot mountain biking in its extreme format. Most of the action takes place under the canopy of large trees, with bright light in the background. I am using a 540 speedlight with my EOS 50, and shooting on 100 ISO film stock(for clarity, less grain). I am a little unsure about the use of this speedlight, or my camera settings for that fact as it seems to read the entire image, thus setting the light for the bright background and not for the underlit subject that is moving at 60km/h. Basically, all the choice shots came out underexposed. The flash unit won't allow my camera to go over 120th/sec. Can anyone fill me in? I want to capture images like those seen in the top mountain bike magazines. Many thanks.
Peter K. Burian
Pierre: I think you will need to use a more light-sensitive film such as ISO 400. In low light, the effective range of flash is not great when using ISO 100.
Move as close as possible to the subject as well. Also, try setting a +1 FLASH exposure compensation factor if your flash unit (or camera) includes this feature.
In AV mode, the camera will set long shutter speeds with flash, such as 1/15 sec. That increases the effective range of flash, but a moving subject will be blurred at such long shutter speeds.
In P mode, the camera will probably set 1/60 sec. and that's probably the best bet overall. If your subjects are still blurred, the 1/120 sec. option that you mentioned is the best bet.
Fuji Superia 400 film is excellent. I just hope you won't need to use ISO 800 film.
Cheers! Peter Burian
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