Hypersync easily explained by Fabio Gloor – Part 2

Now here it is, at last – Part 2 of the HyperSync article. In Part 1 we looked at what Hypersync is and how the whole thing works. But first of all here, I want to say thank you for lots and lots of great feedback. There were many emails and I was especially pleased to receive several telephone calls from abroad.

But now to our subject: How does Hypersync work in practice?
Clearly, after so much theory, I want to familiarise you with the practical applications of HyperSync. In the first part I showed you how the flash has to be triggered before the shutter opens. But that is easier said than done. In this post I want first to show you the classical way, and then also the “cool”, more favourable method using the existing RFS.

How does the classical way work?
Probably many of you have read about radio systems, which offer a HyperSync function. PocketWizard would be the classical example, but in the meantime this HyperSync is also available from low-cost Chinese manufacturers such as Yongnuo. Personally I have tested this version in practice, and have to say that it functions quite reliably. The thing that I find much less appealing is that you have to run the whole configuration using special Software.


When you have connected the radio trigger to the computer with a USB cable, you can set a (negative) offset there, which defines how much earlier the flash should be triggered. This will, of course, vary slightly depending on the flash and camera combination, so it is a matter of trial and error until you get it right. The disadvantage is that you always have to have a computer there if you want to adjust something. And especially on location, where I use HyperSync most of all, the computer is often not available. Furthermore, you need at least one transmitter and one receiver from one of these radio systems for this version, which makes it much less attractive from the cost point of view. It would be much simpler if you could use the RFS, which you anyway already own if, for example, you buy a Move kit.

The trick – RFS with HyperSync
It is also possible with short exposure times to take photographs without using a radio system. And to do this we need only equipment, which most photographers already own. These are the ingredients:

  • broncolor RFS
  • a commercially-available Speedlite
  • gaffer tape
  • a photoelectric cell

The photoelectric cell is the only item here that has to be purchased separately. The cost of this is probably not more than 20.00 CHF. So the advantage of this variant is its low cost. Hardly any cost versus very expensive!

But how can I achieve my short exposure time with this Equipment?
That is what I want to show you now with step-by-step instructions. This cellphone shot shows the equipment described above:


With a Speedlite it is already possible to take photographs with an exposure time shorter than the X-Sync time. But what is happening exactly?


  1. The flash is triggered before the first shutter curtain opens
  2. Pulsing of the flash produces a sort of continuous lighting.
  3. The shutter executes its scanning operation, as described in Part 1.
  4. The two shutters pass across the entire picture so that this is uniformly exposed.

What does that do for me? How do I come to my short exposure time?
It does a great deal. The diagram shows that the flash from the Speedlite is triggered before the first shutter curtain opens. And that is precisely what we want. We can now use this flash impulse to trigger our power pack. And we use the photoelectric cell to do it.

What can the photoelectric cell do?
In fact this photoelectric cell is just the same as the one built into the power pack. It would be quite possible to use this for triggering. The problem here is that you have to sit beside the power pack the whole time to be sure that this photocell reacts at all under outdoor lighting conditions. For this reason we combine the photoelectric cell with our RFS. Then the photoelectric cell reacts to our first impulse from the Speedlite and triggers the RFS. And so the RFS triggers the power pack before the first shutter curtain opens. To make this set up easy to handle, I use gaffer tape to stick the photoelectric cell to my Speedlite. It then looks like this:



But you promised a practical example – where is it?
You often see those familiar publicity photos with a dramatic, dark sky. Now I want to take just such an example to show you how to use this technique in practice.

When you take photos in daylight with the sky in the background, it is normally fairly bright, sometimes even almost white. A normal photograph without flash might look like this.


If I want to insert a dramatic sky in this scene, it is not just important to have more sky in the picture. The exposure must be adapted as well. First I set the exposure so that the sky is nice and dark. Because the exposure time without HyperSync is very restricted, in this example I have used f-stop 18 at 1/160s. As you can see the image is now massively underexposed, but the sky now has this beautiful, dark atmosphere.


Because my image is now so severely underexposed, the foreground, or rather the model, has to be brightened up with flash. In this example I have used the Move, whose light weight and super trolley make it perfect for outdoor shootings such as this. Now you can see that we have in fact achieved precisely what we wanted. We have a correctly exposed model against a dark sky.


Because, without HyperSync, we have to use f-stop 18, everything is of course sharp. That is why, in my opinion, the background simply distracts too much from the motif. So I must open up the aperture. But then the background will be too bright again. And I have to make it darker with the exposure time. And then this must be faster than the X-Sync time. Otherwise we will have a picture of the shutter curtain.


However by exploiting the technique described above, it is no problem to set the exposure time faster than the X-Sync time. So I attach my RFS and photoelectric cell to the Speedlite and set my camera, in this case to f/3.2 and 1/5000s. My background remains dark, but being out of focus distracts much less from the motif. This gives us an image which is only possible using this technique.


HyperSync applications
In Part 1 we considered where HyperSync makes sense. Of course the action and sport fields are among the most common applications. Unfortunately I did not have a top sportsman or woman immediately available, but with this image I can give you a good example. Here the model has skipped. In such outdoor skipping exposures, slight out-of-focus is often noticeable, particularly in the hair. broncolor flashes are ultra-super-fast, but when you cannot photograph outdoors faster than the X-Sync time, daylight has a big influence on the sharpness of the image. That is why we need HyperSync here too, and instead of using flash to freeze the motion, we do it with the exposure time.


Send us your suggestions and criticism
In case there is anything here that you have not understood, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. It would give me great pleasure to know that this blog has been a help to some of you. If you know of more interesting applications of HyperSync, or if this tutorial has helped you achieve some exciting result, please send an email to Have fun experimenting!

Who missed the first Part 1, here the link
Hypersync easily explained by Fabio Gloor – Part 1

Photographer Profile: Peter Dawson

“Trust my instincts and creative voice, and keep it simple, positive and joyful.”



When asked about the start of his career, Peter Dawson states:

“I was the designated family road trip photographer starting at around grade 4. My father handed me his manual Ricoh and showed me how to focus and read the internal light meter and I took it from there. We road tripped all over the West, and that is how I first learned to see natural light, and appreciate form and composition.  It also served to plant seeds of some of the more thematic aspects of my images: mystery, beauty, and wonder.


Fast forwarding to my college years, I was originally a pre-med student in Seattle but always maintained photography as a hobby.  I was an avid hiker and snowboarder, so was constantly toting my camera to the mountains to photograph the landscape and outdoor lifestyle. After two years of studying science, I was burned out and decided to enroll at Brooks Institute of Photography for a change and to explore the more creative side of my make-up. I finished my degree in photography at Brooks and immediately pursued assisting opportunities in Los Angeles.  Before graduating I also Interned at an Ad Agency in LA with an Art Buyer, which was so valuable to see how photography is viewed from the buyer’s side, and the inner workings of an agency.

I was a horrible photo assistant! There were a few photographers who kept me on as a third assistant, but I just wasn’t handy enough with rigging, and all the different types of equipment that I hadn’t been exposed to yet.  I learned what I needed to about the industry (how an advertising shoot works, how the photographer interacts with everyone on set, etc.) and then started pursuing my own assignments.

I slowly gained a few editorial clients and music industry clients, then began showing my work at ad agencies.  Many Art Buyers loved my landscape photography and encouraged me to shoot cars as a natural fit for my aesthetic in the advertising world.  I followed their advice and developed a car and landscape portfolio, gained some editorial clients, and then moved into advertising.  I now have a diverse group of clients in advertising and editorial, shooting cars, people, and location-based conceptual work, and have representation with Anderson Hopkins in NYC.



For me, I honestly can’t point to one moment. It has been a steady climb of very hard work, risk, generous help and interest from others, artistic development, and business skill development.  It’s truly a marathon, and each press of the shutter or hand-shake is another step. I still have much to learn and am excited to keep going!


I learned much of the technical side of photography in school to where it is now second nature.  The greatest way I have found to learn technique is to simply look at a lot of photography.  Find aspects of an image that I am drawn to, dissect how it was made, and apply it to my own vision.


My photo heroes actually aren’t photographers, but people in different disciplines who see the world in a unique way, and in a way that I connect with. Examples would be Terrence Malick, Sergio Leone, CS Lewis, Albert Bierstadt, Lewis and Clark, Henryck Gorecki, and many others.”

Like any career, the job has it’s ups and downs. Dawson discusses his favorite, and least favorite part of being a photographer.

“I was only half joking with a friend the other day when I said that being a photographer now means 14-hour days in front of a computer!

The freedom, exploration, and creative thought-life. And of course, the people I get to meet and interact with,” says Peter on his favorite aspect of photography.


When asked why he chooses to shoot with a Hasselblad, Peter states:

“The file size and quality….Especially when shooting for my car clients, they frequently need to do extreme cropping to accommodate very different media layouts from a single page vertical to a billboard horizontal. The file quality and sharpness needs to hold through some pretty adventurous cropping!

I love the H-series lenses.  The 3.5 50mm is my go-to.  Many wide-angle lenses claim to be sharp edge-to-edge, but this is the best one I’ve found.

Long exposure capabilities: I’m frequently shooting long exposures for all kinds of reasons…low lighting, night images, motion blur for cars, rig shots of cars, light streaks, water blur in my landscapes, etc.  The image quality at long exposures is way better then any 35mm dslr, and this may seem small but i love it: easy mirror lock up, and the mirror stays up for sequences of exposures until you press for it to come down again.

The viewfinder is mind-blowing…somehow it looks better than real…it’s difficult to explain but for some reason it’s easier for me to pre-visualize the final image when looking through compared to other cameras.”

See more of Peter Dawson’s work at