Extreme Sport Photography with Matt Thomas

When I Google “Qflash” I am not surprised to see pages of product photos, followed by gorgeous wedding images and stunning location portraits. It was the fantastic shots of skateboarders flying through urban landscapes that I always wondered about. Today Matt Thomas of  Matt-Thomas-Photography.co.uk in Gloucester, Gloucestershire joins us to explain the Qflash / extreme action sport photography connection.

I was introduced to the Quantum line of flashes about 3 years ago by a friend who was using the Quantum QFlash model T2. He kept going on about the quality of light, and how good the spread of light was compared to every other flash he owned.  I did a bit of research into the Qflash system, to see how it would benefit me, and I liked what I saw. It was time to try and get one, but I didn’t need any of the fancy features the newer QFlashes offered. So the hunt for an older model began. Luckily, I was able to pick up a second hand QFlash T2 from another skateboard photographer.

The main thing extreme action sport photographers look for in lighting is the flashes ability to freeze action, therefore the shorter the flash duration the better. Often I am trying to overpower the ambient light enough to get a crisp shot of the movement taking place.  To do this you need to a very quick burst of light, enough to stop that motion in place for a split second. The QFlash at around 1/4 power is just the right duration to kick out a fast, powerful burst and freeze the action.

In bare bulb the Qflash puts out a wide spread of light. This allows me to bring the flash in quite close, drop the power down, and get that short flash duration I need. Some of my fisheye shots were done with the Qflash only a couple of feet away from the subject, giving me enough power to use apertures of f/8 or f/11, up to two stops more than the natural available light.

All of the Quantum Qflashes are powered by a separate Turbo Battery. Having Quantum Turbo packs in my bag always comes in handy, especially when shooting sequences in poorly lit environments. When I partner a Turbo pack with my Nikon SB-800 I get quick enough recycle time to keep up with the 8fps of my Nikon D700. When firing an action sequence using a Quantum Turbo and High Voltage cable the skater is always lit up and the flash never misses a beat, extremely useful when a lot of the sequence shots seem to happen during dusk or inside skate parks.

Overall I’ve been super happy with using a Quantum QFlash in all of my action photography, not only for its great way the flash can stop action but also for the light spread that fills a location with high quality light. None of which I could get with other flashes I’ve shot with.

Matt Thomas

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