Lighting Techniques

Slow Sync Flash mode

Written by Gail Bjork

Use slow sync flash to capture a dimly lit background at night.

Slow Sync Flash mode, also known as Night Scene or Night Portrait mode, is used to capture a dimly lit background at night while keeping the foreground properly lit.

When using this mode, a camera uses a slow shutter speed in combination with the flash.

Photo taken using Slow Sync flash

Slow Sync flash photo by Roy Niswanger

The flash fires briefly to light the foreground subject and capture ambient light to reveal more detail in the background. If Slow Sync flash in not used, the background may appear black or underexposed.

Slow Sync mode is effective when photographing people at twilight. It is also useful when wanting to capture a subject in sharp focus with the background in motion, such as a moving car at night or a concert artist moving across a stage. When using Slow Sync mode on moving subjects, lights will appear in streams.

You can also get similar effects by using shutter-priority mode and a slow shutter speed under 1/60th of a second.

If you don’t want the main subjects to become blurred, a camera support is recommended when using Slow Sync flash.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.