Learn High-Speed Sync With Photographer Francisco Hernandez

Learn High-Speed Sync With Photographer Francisco Hernandez

High-speed sync is a hot topic in the world of portrait photographers today and Francisco Hernandez is someone who has this technique dialed in.

Advancements in lighting technology over the last few years have led to affordable, portable, and powerful strobes that are capable of overpowering the harsh midday sun where previously you had to choose between using ND filters or investing in some seriously expensive gear. In short, high-speed sync allows you to shoot at a shutter speed that far exceeds most digital camera’s native sync speed which is typically 180–250 of a second. Conversely, you can then shoot at a wider aperture, say f/1.8, to produce that shallow depth of field look even in the harsh midday sun which is simply not possible when using a relatively slow shutter speed.

Hernandez is a portrait and wedding photographer based out of Mission, Texas, that has been using off-camera flash in his work for several years now. Francisco started his own Facebook group, Learn to Light-An OCF Lighting Community, after noticing how scattered information was on the topic of off camera flash, particularly in the arena of high speed sync. Turns out others felt the same way and within a year, his group ballooned to over 14,000 members leading him to start producing tutorials on YouTube with detailed behind the scenes takes on actual shoots. He is constantly adding content that is hard to beat given that it is totally free.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Francisco about his technique which has a unique, dramatic look as he tends to shoot outdoors while underexposing ambient light. “Growing up, I played around with disposable cameras, many of which I still need to develop! But it never occurred to that photography would become a passion of mine. After toiling with the idea of becoming a lawyer, then a graphic designer, I finally settled on TV and film which led me to picking up a camera and eventually finding my passion.” Francisco started out with a Canon 60D and currently uses a Canon 6D, although he is in process of transitioning to Sony’s line of full frame cameras. Having started with the Busy Bees kit from Paul C. Buff, his light of choice is now the Flashpoint XPLOR 600 HSS TTL battery-powered moonlight, also referred to as the Godox AD600 on Amazon, which features an internal lithium ion battery capable of 450 full power bursts on a single charge, internal radio receiver/trigger, and high speed sync up to 1/10,000 of a second. Next up is the Flashpoint Streaklight 360W/s which is essentially a smaller, lighter version of the XPLOR yet fully compatible with the transmitter. Francisco is an avid proponent of sharing his techniques with others and truly believes in using social media to connect with the community. “In my opinion, photographers should be more open minded. You can give someone all the tools but that doesn’t mean they will be able to replicate your artistic eye. There shouldn’t be any reason not to help others out.”

Do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes, possibly hours if you’re like me, checking out his Facebook group and YouTube channel. Chances are you’ll walk away ready to approach your next outdoor portrait shoot from a different angle. In the mean time, here's some inspiration!

You can follow Francisco on his website, YouTube channel, and Facebook.

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26 Comments

Anonymous's picture

Great article, cheers!

Mark Bowers's picture

Thanks for viewing Andrew!

Lawrence Barnes's picture

Nice article, much respect to you Francisco.

Francisco Hernandez's picture

Thanks, Lawrence! Just trying to improve the photo community little by little. =)

Mark Bowers's picture

Thank you Lawrence! Francisco was a pleasure to work with on this one

Don Feely's picture

Very nice article Francisco. Thanks for sharing so much helpful information.

Francisco Hernandez's picture

You're welcome, Don! Sharing is caring, haha. It's cheesy but I believe in it so much =)

Wayne Denny's picture

Nice article, a couple months ago I bought the same light when it went on sale. I wanted to see exactly how much power I could squeeze out of the thing, so I shot this photo at sunrise (into an umbrella, not direct). I was pretty blown away, especially considering that I paid about $50 more than I did for a single SB800 all those years ago!
https://fstoppers.com/photo/157886

Francisco Hernandez's picture

Great shot, Wayne! Yup, the light is amazing and not that expensive at all considering how much it offers =)

Apart from a very good photographer he is also the most helpful and nicest person when it comes to helping other with their photography
Congratulations Francisco

Mark Bowers's picture

Muhammad I couldn't agree more! He was a pleasure to speak with on the phone

Francisco Hernandez's picture

Thank you, Muhammad! We gotta help each out in this industry. =)

Maarten de Kok's picture

Nice article. Is there a way i can use a light meter for hss?

Francisco Hernandez's picture

There's one coming soon this year. For the longest time you couldn't meter past 1/1000th but Sekonic's new L-858D will let you meter up to 1/16000th.

Ricky Perrone's picture

Beautiful shots, very cool stuff!

Mark Bowers's picture

Thanks for viewing Ricky! I loved them as well which is why I wanted to share them through my article

Theodore Colegrove's picture

This is GREAT! Love the output... now I just have to figure out how to do it with the Olympus E-M1 Mark II

Francisco Hernandez's picture

If I knew the solution I'd help you out asap.

Jon Stolarski's picture

Great article. Looking forward to checking out the youtube tutorials

Scarlett Preuitt's picture

Was a great surprise to see Fransisco featured here! Found him last year and his style is like mine, only light years ahead in technique. Saving up for some good strobes and now I know which one. I look forward to his videos whenever they come out.

Francisco Hernandez's picture

Thanks, Scarlett! I got more coming. That's a beautiful shot and happy to see we share a love of the same style. You'll get there. The potential is so visible! =)

Scarlett Preuitt's picture

Thank you! That image was lit with natural light and a windshield sunscreen as a reflector. Can't always make that a consistent lighting plan so I'm excited about the HSS and strobes.

Lance Bachelder's picture

Love your work and you really get the most out of your 6D, far nicer than some of the other Youtube photographers that have switched to Sony. Just wondering what is it you hope to gain by switching to Sony? I can't imagine you ever getting the skin tones and natural look you're getting now with a Sony but maybe I'm wrong? Maybe it's your post process? I'd really like to know as I'm making a big camera decision myself in the next week or two. My problem with Sony is they have no Tilt Shift lenses other than 3rd party Rokinon/Samyang. Keep up the great work!