I headed off to a local motocross track over the weekend to test out my reflexes on some fast action sports. As is often the case, I took a few Speedlite 600EX-RT flashes with me too…
Fortunately the December weather was on my side, with bright sunshine and not much wind.
High speed sync
The ambient light was pretty bright, so I knew right awaythat I would be working the flashes hard. My initial test shot showed that I would almost surely be above my 1/250s sync speed at ISO 100 and the 70-200mm set to around f/4 or so.
As soon as you go over the sync speed the effective flash range falls, but grouping multiple flashes together helps to keep recycle times short and gives a bit more power to the pre-flash when you use E-TTL as I did.
Zoom your Speedlite
I fitted my flashes to a Lastolite quad bracket and set them all to be in the same slave group. I manually zoomed the flash head of each one to 70mm. This concentrates the power to give you a bit more range. There’s no point wasting light over an area bigger than your lens is going to see.
Each time that you change a Canon Speedlite to master or slave mode it will automatically adjust the zoom setting to 24mm, so you often need to check the zoom setting in use.
The track had plenty of vantage points where I could place the lights one side and shoot the motocross riders from several different positions. My flashes were positioned to light across the track, not directly in to the riders faces. The surprisingly bright sun – it’s December in the UK any sun is a surprise – was lighting the riders left side and providing the rim light. The Speedlite flashes are lighting most of the rider. You can see their effect lifting up the inside of the front mudguard and under the peak of the rider’s helmet.
The hard part is timing your shots, but with some practice and the camera drive mode set to a slow frame rate or single shot you shouldn’t kill the flash batteries too quickly.
I also used the flash in another location on the track. This spot was set between two high banks and there was quite some deep shadows, but mostly flat murky light. Again I’m adding light from the riders right side, and was fortunate to catch the dirt spraying up from the rear wheel on this shot below. It does make me think that I could have had a use for some more flashes behind the rider or from the right rear side of the frame 🙂
- EOS-1D X Mark II [Amazon US] || [Amazon UK]
- EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM [Amazon US] || [Amazon UK]
- Speedlite 600EX-RT [Amazon US] || [Amazon UK]
- Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT [Amazon US] || [Amazon UK]
- Lastolite quad bracket [Amazon US] || [Amazon UK]
Many thanks to the riders and organisers at Slough Motox Parc for letting me photograph at their track. I hope to be back another day soon for some more shots.