January 2022

Shallow Depth of Field Portraits Using High-Speed Sync | Eli Infante


When creating high-speed sync off-camera portraits, two variables I usually don’t change are the ISO and aperture. I set my ISO to 100 since I’m outdoors and the aperture in most cases to f/2.8 and below to create a shallow depth of field. After the ISO and aperture are assigned, the key ingredient is the shutter speed. The shutter speed is what allows you to darken or brighten your background. A faster shutter speed will let in less light, thus creating darker backgrounds, while a slower shutter speed will let in more light making the background appear brighter. The advantage of using high-speed sync is it allows you to go above your flash sync speed and still enables you to get a shallow depth of field.


The first step before adding the flash is to capture ambient exposure. Use your shutter speed to decide how dark or bright you want your background. During this process, don’t worry about the light on the subject as we will use fill light on them in the next step. It is essential to decide which mood you want to convey in your photograph. Adark image will be moodier, while a lighter image will depict an airy, lively mood. It’s all a matter of taste and the overall vibe you’re trying to convey.

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