By Daniel Dupont

September 23rd, 2020


If you want to explore different photographic genres and you like to challenge yourself, it is quite possible that you will try the experience of sports photography. It can be stimulating and requires a certain technical mastery.

Some sports require you to go to a structured activity, such as soccer or football, but if your schedule is less flexible, you may want to try biking first. It should be easier to find a collaborating model to create spectacular images.

Usually, I don't advise using a flash for sports photography because the lightning could distract the athlete and affect their performance. On the other hand, in the case of mountain biking, the addition of a flash makes the scene more dynamic and adds an undeniable artistic touch.

However, it is important to combine flash and slow-speed shooting. It is the short duration of the flash burst that will freeze the action in the end. To do this, it is important to select the second shutter flash release in your camera's settings.


Photo par Daniel Dupont
Daniel Dupont
Canon EOS 5Ds + Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM
1/40 | f/2.8 | ISO 200

The Flash With The First or Second Shutter

Modern cameras allow the user to choose whether to fire the flash at the beginning (first exposure shutter) or the end of the exposure (second exposure shutter).

The flash is activated at the second shutter release to freeze the action at the end of the exposure. This technique is most useful when illustrating a motion effect but should be used with slow shutter speeds when taking pictures. This method is useless with a fast shutter speed since the delay between the beginning and end of the picture does not allow the creation of a thread effect.

For the majority (99.9%) of your photos, you should choose the first shutter, so that the flash fires at the beginning of the exposure.


Photo par Daniel Dupont
Daniel Dupont
Canon EOS 5Ds + Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM
1/40 | f/2.8 | ISO 500


Ideally, choose a spot in the shade under trees where the flash will have a greater impact. If you try the experiment in full light, you may get a spinning effect without the benefit of the flash.

The Exposure

Adjust the exposure by selecting a relatively slow shutter speed such as 1/30 sec. Set the ISO value between 100 and 200 and select the aperture to balance the first two settings. Note that the aperture should be between f/8 and f/11 to maintain a certain flash effective distance from the flash.

Photo par Daniel Dupont
Daniel Dupont
Canon EOS 5Ds + Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM
1/30 | f/5.0 | ISO 500

Flash Settings

To achieve an attractive effect, you must use the flash in manual mode and reduce it to 1/32nd of its power. The short duration of the flash at the very end of the exposure (second shutter flash) will freeze the movement while opening the scene slightly.


Use the continuous autofocus. On Canon cameras: AI Servo, Nikon, Sony, Fuji and Pentax cameras: AF-C.


To create a thread effect enhanced by the flash burst, release the shutter when your subject will be perfectly parallel to your camera.

PRO TIP :  Don't be discouraged after your first photos; this technique requires some practice to be mastered.

Find The Right Flash For You

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