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When shooting outdoor action shots like mountain biking or skate boarding one great tool to keep in mind as you experiment is your flash.
While an outdoor setting might not conjure images of brightly lit scenes in your mind the flip side of bright sunlight is that you can also end up with fairly dark shadows.
Using a flash in these fast moving environments can help you achieve both well exposed images (using both the light of the flash to fill out shadows as well as the natural light in the scene) as well as some pretty cool effects if you shoot with slower shutter speeds.
If you have control over the output of your flash (some point and shoots and most flash gun units allow this) experiment with a variety of different levels of output.
You probably won’t need a full flash burst so pull it back a stop or two to get a more natural look.
Check out some of the following 4 techniques which are illustrated in the shots above and below:
1. Slow Sync Flash
Experiment with flash plus a slower shutter speed (slow sync flash) for shots that capture the movement of the moment in it’s natural ambient light as well as some frozen details and you could end up with some ‘wow shots’.
2. Try Panning During Exposure
Combined with slow sync flash try panning along with your subject as they move by and you’ll capture some interesting effects with blurred backgrounds but an in focus main subject frozen by the flash.
3. Try Zooming During Exposure
Similarly, try zooming your lens in or out during the exposure to get a sense of movement in the shot while still capturing it still during the flash.
4. Experiment with Off Camera Flash
If you want to get really creative try some off camera flash techniques to light your subject as they travel by from different angles.
Some of the shots in this post have combined the above techniques for some pretty spectacular results.