I don’t know what it is about nighttime, but that seems to be the time when my brain is the most creative. Maybe it’s due to the fact that all day I am running around doing mom things and once bedtime rolls around I can actually stop and think. Either way, it has lead to some pretty cool ideas. One of them being these nighttime action shot images.
It was the weekend before school was getting ready to start and my kids asked if they could jump on the trampoline before bed to show me some cool tricks they had been working on. Of course, I said yes and the two of them started showing me their skills. While doing so, I got the crazy idea to take nighttime action shots of them doing these tricks as I knew it was something I was going to want to remember. However, I wanted to be able to freeze the whole trick from start to finish.
How I created the nighttime action shots
I ran inside grabbed my Lumix GX8 and 15mm f/1.7 lens. I knew that I needed a wide enough lens that I could see their tricks from start to finish and not catch a lot of the neighborhood homes behind us. Since my kids are only seven and four years old, their tricks also tend to be a little all over the place and even unpredictable if you will. I needed to keep that in mind and also remember to be able to see the whole trampoline.
Since it was dark and getting darker, I knew that I needed some sort of light source to be able to see them and also to freeze their movements. So, I grabbed my Neewer TT560 speedlight. I chose this speedlight mainly because I am not a gear snob and I do not have the most expensive, up to date, hot-off-the-presses gear. I firmly believe you can make inexpensive gear do whatever expensive gear can do if you know your gear well enough.
What settings I used
Now, let’s chat about what settings I chose to use. I started with f/7.1 based on the width of the tramp and the area in which their tricks took place. Then, I set my camera to a six-second exposure. This way I could get their trick from start to finish. My ISO was at 400, so I could use a lower power on my flash and not light up all the surrounding distractions.
I put my speedlight at 1/64 power on manual mode. Setting it to manual mode allowed me to hand hold it and hit the test button every second manually. Prior to their tricks, I had my son stand in the center of the trampoline and I shined my phone light on him to able to focus on him. That way I knew if they started somewhere within that area they would always be in focus and not fall off the tramp.
The whole thing worked out so great that I even went and tried the same nighttime action shot technique on my daughter riding her new bike. Everyone loved it! Not to mention it wore the kids out before bedtime. And, I was still capturing memories that would normally be forgotten. It was a win-win for everyone! Give it a try and see what you think.