Winter Sports Photography Tips - Flash Compensation - Digital Photography School
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Winter Sports Photography Tips – Flash Compensation

This guest post with a couple of tips on Winter Sports Photography is by Yves Garneau from G1Photo.com.

Conveying the mood of a particular setting with tricky lighting can be difficult. Most of my photography is done in the mountains during the winter months where light can vary from rich and deep to flat and blown out. Having the proper techniques to handle these varied lighting situations is a must.

Here you’ll find one of my favorite shots from last winter.

Winter-Sports-Photography-1

We’d just finished a heli ski run in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia, Canada and were waiting for the heli to pick us up. The sun was just about to set when I decided to grab these photos of my ski model.

I needed to keep my subject lit up with out over exposing the back drop. Most of you probably recognize the fill-flash but in this case it needed some tweaking to give the sun that starry effect. No filters were used….

I was shooting with a Nikon D200 and 10.5mm fisheye lens. Most of the time I keep my camera on shutter priority. With action I need to be assured my photos are crisp therefore I always have it set to a minimum shutter speed of 1/1250sec. When I pulled out my camera and popped up the built in flash it automatically dropped the shutter speed to 1/250sec and boost the aperture to F14.

Although this would light my subject appropriately I was concerned about getting the deep blue sky and starry sun. The burst of flash would also need tweaking based on how close he was standing. For the first shot I dropped my exposure by a third of a stop and upped my flash by a third of a stop. This would compensate for the distance between my subject and me while staying true to the setting.

Winter-Sports-Photography-2

For the second shot I kept my exposure dropped by a third but also dropped the flash by a third of a stop since he was much closer. The result is an evenly balanced shot with an incredible starry sun.

I love using fill flash while shooting against the sun but it isn’t always as straight forward as popping up the flash and shooting. Don’t be afraid to tweak the flash compensation settings to get that perfect balance… that’s what it’s there for.

Thanks to Yves for this post. He’s kindly offered to write a few more Winter Photography Tips for DPS. Don’t forget to check out more of his work at G1Photo.com. Subscribe today to get notified when he posts more.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • http://www.klaidas.lt/ Klaidas

    No filters and such sky… impressive.

  • http://lizziebelle.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth

    I love the starry sun effect!

  • http://sightings.loneroad.info/ AC

    Brilliant. Great exposure and a very well balanced snap.

  • NikonnooB

    I saw a picture last week that had a similar effect and had me COMPLETELY baffled. A friend and I conjectured that ND filters and extremely small apertures had been used, but this really clears things up. THANK YOU – that was really bugging me!

  • http://homeboyski.com/ Homeboy’s Skiing Blog

    Wow! I love these pictures! I’ve been into photographing skiing and mountaineering since 1997 and I have always had troubles with sunlight. This was a helpful tip for me, thanks!

  • Angela

    Wow, great light balance in this shot. I love how the sun looks. Thanks for posting this.

  • http://www.reddotstudio.ch hfng

    Love the starry effect of the sun. Excellent. Did you have problems with lens flare while shooting directly at the sun?

  • http://www.inlinepics.com tom

    This shot is awesome, i’m about to leave on a snowboard trip to WY, any suggestions on protecting my expensive camera from myself on the slopes?

  • Sandra

    Relly nice picture. The colours are brilliant!

  • TonyB

    These pictures are great. I’m not sure I understand the starry sun. I can’t see that the fill in flash does anything for the sun. In which case is it only starry because you’ve shot straight into it? I’ve seen effects like this with tiny apertures (but F9 doesn’t seem so small to me). Or have I missed the point? Anyway, the images are just amazing and I like the texture of the snow. Makes me want to visit Canada!

  • David Blanchard

    I like the first image, but, for me, the man’s face on the second is over-lit and comes off “wrong”.

  • Martin Becker

    Very useful and Helpful. Thanks.

    Martin

  • http://stockphotoreview.blogspot.com/ Sam

    that’s a great post, I’ve been trying to get some good winter shots for my stock photo portfolio for a while and this will really help.

  • mik

    I have used fill flash many times with good results(outdoors). I don’t think I can change the settings on my flash.I will go home and read my manual.
    I am learning all kinds of helpful things on this site..thank you.

  • T-Will

    Great shots and tips!

    But one question, how do I tweak my flash settings? I have a Canon 10D and a Speedlite 420EX flash.

  • Maria

    How can I achieve such a sharpened pic??? Is it the high shutter speed?

  • Luis

    What do you mean by “tweaking the flash”?

  • T-Will

    Luis:

    I was referring to the quote below from the article. I’m guessing I would need a more advanced flash to be able to make adjustments to it.

    “For the first shot I dropped my exposure by a third of a stop and upped my flash by a third of a stop.”

  • http://www.sophiebrooke.com Sophie Brooke

    my apologies if this is the wrong place to ask this question – but I was just interested in what theme you are using for this site? I really like it. Keep up the awesome work :)

  • http://www.myphotostart.com/ Marina

    Wow! great shots! I’m a beginner in photography… and my first shots are in a winter day… and of course, I had troubles with the light, and my pictures were overexposed. Thanks for tips and keep going!

Some older comments

  • Marina

    February 4, 2010 04:23 am

    Wow! great shots! I'm a beginner in photography... and my first shots are in a winter day... and of course, I had troubles with the light, and my pictures were overexposed. Thanks for tips and keep going!

  • Sophie Brooke

    January 5, 2010 10:32 am

    my apologies if this is the wrong place to ask this question - but I was just interested in what theme you are using for this site? I really like it. Keep up the awesome work :)

  • T-Will

    October 31, 2008 06:25 am

    Luis:

    I was referring to the quote below from the article. I'm guessing I would need a more advanced flash to be able to make adjustments to it.

    "For the first shot I dropped my exposure by a third of a stop and upped my flash by a third of a stop."

  • Luis

    October 31, 2008 01:53 am

    What do you mean by "tweaking the flash"?

  • Maria

    October 31, 2008 01:48 am

    How can I achieve such a sharpened pic??? Is it the high shutter speed?

  • T-Will

    February 10, 2008 07:54 am

    Great shots and tips!

    But one question, how do I tweak my flash settings? I have a Canon 10D and a Speedlite 420EX flash.

  • mik

    February 2, 2008 03:08 am

    I have used fill flash many times with good results(outdoors). I don't think I can change the settings on my flash.I will go home and read my manual.
    I am learning all kinds of helpful things on this site..thank you.

  • Sam

    February 1, 2008 09:10 am

    that's a great post, I've been trying to get some good winter shots for my stock photo portfolio for a while and this will really help.

  • Martin Becker

    February 1, 2008 08:51 am

    Very useful and Helpful. Thanks.

    Martin

  • David Blanchard

    February 1, 2008 04:34 am

    I like the first image, but, for me, the man's face on the second is over-lit and comes off "wrong".

  • TonyB

    February 1, 2008 02:14 am

    These pictures are great. I'm not sure I understand the starry sun. I can't see that the fill in flash does anything for the sun. In which case is it only starry because you've shot straight into it? I've seen effects like this with tiny apertures (but F9 doesn't seem so small to me). Or have I missed the point? Anyway, the images are just amazing and I like the texture of the snow. Makes me want to visit Canada!

  • Sandra

    February 1, 2008 01:29 am

    Relly nice picture. The colours are brilliant!

  • tom

    February 1, 2008 12:43 am

    This shot is awesome, i'm about to leave on a snowboard trip to WY, any suggestions on protecting my expensive camera from myself on the slopes?

  • hfng

    February 1, 2008 12:26 am

    Love the starry effect of the sun. Excellent. Did you have problems with lens flare while shooting directly at the sun?

  • Angela

    January 31, 2008 10:38 pm

    Wow, great light balance in this shot. I love how the sun looks. Thanks for posting this.

  • Homeboy's Skiing Blog

    January 31, 2008 09:24 pm

    Wow! I love these pictures! I've been into photographing skiing and mountaineering since 1997 and I have always had troubles with sunlight. This was a helpful tip for me, thanks!

  • NikonnooB

    January 31, 2008 06:30 am

    I saw a picture last week that had a similar effect and had me COMPLETELY baffled. A friend and I conjectured that ND filters and extremely small apertures had been used, but this really clears things up. THANK YOU - that was really bugging me!

  • AC

    January 31, 2008 01:34 am

    Brilliant. Great exposure and a very well balanced snap.

  • Elizabeth

    January 31, 2008 01:08 am

    I love the starry sun effect!

  • Klaidas

    January 31, 2008 12:52 am

    No filters and such sky... impressive.

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