Jindai Botanical rose garden
Jindai Botanical's rose garden.

An HSS flash is a great piece of equipment for every photographer. I used mine at the Jindai Botanical  Garden rose festival in October 2022. It produced some stunning results. I was more than happy.

In the past, most of my photos haven’t been anything special. They have just been flowers in a garden. Often I added some bokeh but not always. This time I wanted something more eye-popping.

Queen of Jindai Rose
Queen of Jindai Rose.

I wanted flowers that popped with beautiful colors and standout from their background. The midday sun wouldn’t allow that. I needed a special technique.

It was time to use my flash. Did you know it can kill the sun? Not literally, of course, but it can give you some amazing effects if you know how to use it. So HSS would get me the look I wanted. It was something I had done on occasion a long time ago. I needed to refresh my memory.

HSS flash Dahlia Helena Růžičková photo
Helena Růžičková dahlia.

It was time to use my flash. Did you know a flash can kill the sun? Not literally, of course, but it can give you some amazing effects if you know how. So HSS would get me the look I wanted. It was something I had done on occasion a long time ago. I needed to refresh my memory.

And luckily, the Dahlias were also in bloom. Their garden was near the roses. They have a cool spiky shape. It was a fantastic day of flower photography.

Kronenbourg Rose
Kronenbourg Rose.

What Is HSS flash photography?

Have you ever used a flash? Using them is a good idea when you need more light. But they can be problematic for photographers. What is the problem?

Dahlia Selina
Selina dahlia.

It’s timing. Many cameras have a maximum shutter speed. On my Fujifilm X-T3, it is 1/250 second. Other brands might be a little slower. Anyway, break that barrier, and a dark bar will appear across your photo. That’s not good!

HSS (high-speed synch) lets you ignore that barrier. With it, the sky is the limit.  On my Fujifilm X-T3, I can use a shutter speed of 1/8000 second with no problems. That would darken the background.

Montparnasse rose
Montparnasse rose.

All you need to do is correctly set up your camera and flash. To do that, check out your camera manual. It’s not difficult.

Remember this, though. HSS flash photography requires equipment that is capable of doing it. Check before buying anything. If you are not sure, ask the people at the store.

Why do we want to use an HSS flash?

  • To control ambient light

To reduce ambient light, lower ISO or increase your shutter speed. That might be problematic. Instead of doing that, use HSS!

You can darken backgrounds, which is what I did at Jindai. Or, try it with a model at sunset. It can add drama to the sky!  Seriously, it will be stunning.

  • Maintain a shallow depth of field

Some photographers love to blur out backgrounds with a shallow depth of field. Doing this in bright daylight makes it hard to get the proper exposure. You might end up with photos grossly overexposed. If you use flash and HSS, you will kill the ambient light, so use it!! Yes, this is connected with the previous reason.

  • Overpower Strong Sunlight

Photographing in afternoon sunlight isn’t always good. Many people prefer to shoot around golden hour lighting. But that isn’t always possible (especially at Jindai Botanical Gardens). Sometimes you work with time constraints and have to figure out how to make it work. HSS allows you to do this.

  • Capture Motion on bright days

Since most cameras have a flash sync speed of 1/250th of a second, it is hard to capture fast-paced movement. Using HSS allows you to use high shutter speeds. Let’s be honest here. Flowers don’t usually move! Well, if it is windy, they will.

Maria Callas rose
Maria Callas rose.

How did I use HSS at Jindai?

  • I put my Godox V860 II flash with a homemade bounce card on my Fujifilm X-T3.
  • In the camera’s settings, I enabled the flash to fire when the camera’s first curtain opened. To do this, check the operating manual.
  • As a base, my camera settings were:
      1. Shutterspeed 1/8000
      2. ISO 200
      3. Aperture f/8.0

Wrapping up

I was happy with the results. Hopefully, you agree with me. The roses looked great, as did the dahlias. I enjoyed that day of flower photography. Using an HSS flash brought out some nice colors and controlled the ambient light.

Dahlia Fuyu-no-seiza
Fuyu-no-seiza dahlia.

Chrysanthemums will be with us next month, so the flash might get some more work. With some luck, I’ll be back at Jindai Botanical Gardens and other locations to see them. Please come back again to see more photos.

For more flower articles, look at:

If you want to learn about HSS flash from a YouTube video look at:

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