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Help photographing fast moving subjects in low light.

Aaron Curlee , Feb 18, 2007; 01:14 a.m.

I am trying to take pictures of dogs at full speed at night in horrible light outside. I am using a 30D with a 70-200 f4 L lens and a 580 flash. I can't get rid of the harsh shadows. I'm pretty sure I need at least two more flashes to balance this out (although I do have a problem with placement of one of the flashed blinding the person on the bite side of the dog). Any suggestions on what will help with out breaking the bank. I don't think the ST-E2 will work with the distance.


Ryan Entwistle , Feb 18, 2007; 02:04 a.m.

Shooting in low light conditions with flash, and trying to avoid shadows, you have a few options. Given your constraints, the best one may be as follows:

If there is any usable ambient light at all, you might be able to take a longer exposure so that you have enough ambient light to light the background and use the flash to stop the dog in motion. Ideally, you set the flash to the end-curtain sync of the shutter so that if there is any ambient light exposure trail on moving objects it will "trail behind" the object/subject. (The same technique can also be used to show an object in multiple positions of motion in the same long exposure by using multiple flash bursts, however, this will only work correctly if you can pretty much isolate the flash so that it is not hitting anything but the moving object.) You will need to have the camera on a tripod to keep it steady throughout the log exposure.

Mark U , Feb 18, 2007; 03:56 a.m.

Your first problem is that the shot is badly out of focus. Since it seems that the human is static, you should pre-focus on the human (use CF 4 to operate focus via the * button). You will need to be within AF assist range, or you will need to use a high power torch beam to provide alternative AF assist. AF would probably be more reliable with a faster lens. So far as avoiding shadows is concerned, take a leaf out of wedding photographers' tricks and get your flash higher so that the shadows fall behind the subjects largely out of view. Use an off camera shoe cord and a bracket that gets the flash above the lens.

Kazuaki Fuse , Feb 18, 2007; 05:38 a.m.

Suppose you need to cover the area about the size of Hockey arena, you can put several 2400ws flashes on each corner and trigger them with PocketWizard from wherever you are shooting from. BUT, this will certainly break the bank, so I have to come up with more realistic solution.

issues are
*slow lens
*bad lighting
*fast moving subject

brighter sides are
*30D can shoot at ISO 3200 (then apply neat image in Photoshop)
*you already have 580EX

Here is what I would do.

1. Buy a wireless slave trigger from the eBay (around $30)

2. Put some diffuser or Omni Bounce on 580EX to make it look like regular light source.

3. Attach the 580EX to tree branch high above.

4. Set 30D to ISO1600 or 3200, and do the couple of test shots with manual mode to find the best setting ( shutter speed controls the ambient light, and aperture controls the flash intensity).

5. then shoot

580EX is GN 190', so if you are shooting at ISO1600~3200, it can cover literally 190' (will be reduced if you put diffuser on your flash)

the other important thing to remember is the focus area. 30D probably has only 1 cross sensor , so it is good idea to use center focus area when focusing in bad lighting condition.

Also, don't forget to change the white balance to Flash or even warmer. Or put amber gel on 580EX.

This is just an idea though....

Don Hauschild , Feb 18, 2007; 07:51 a.m.

You are shooting a black dog at night with a not so fast lens. The lens is probably wide open, thus your DOF will suffer. I suggest you practice on a lighter colored dog and then adjust for the darker subject. Also if it wont alter your desired shot, you might try placing some reflective tape on the dogs collar for the AF beam to catch.

Aaron Curlee , Feb 18, 2007; 06:00 p.m.


I am using the autofocus with the * button and tried focus on the dog and the person, sometimes I've gotton lucky. Will I have better luck if I use a 24-70 L 2.8 or the 70-200 L 2.8? Also what is the name of the radio transmitter from ebay and how many flashes will they control.

Again thanks again all for all your help.


Kazuaki Fuse , Feb 18, 2007; 09:50 p.m.

The eBay's cheap wireless trigger comes with 1 transmitter and 1 receiver(only $20). If you want to trigger more than 1 flash, you need buy another set for extra receiver (even if you don't need any more transmitter though...). I was bit suspicious about quality, but so far it's been working just fine. It reaches about 150'.


If the link doesn't work just search with "Digital Radio Slave Flash Trigger /16 Channel Wireless".

Here is an another idea.

Aaron Curlee , Feb 19, 2007; 02:21 p.m.

Kazuaki, Thanks for your time, answers, and follow-up. I'm gonna try the transmitters and the linked work. But I think you solved the problem with the dog mounted flash. (That was a good one, and a much needed laugh.)

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