I had another go at my speedlight/High Speed Sync experimentation at this past weekend's Plymouth Festival of Cyclocross. I spent about an hour shooting at the barriers after I raced in the morning. The sun was out and there was no shade to be found in that area so it was a chore to get the ambient light knocked down. I used the same lights as my last post, 2 430EXII's and a 580EXII as an on-camera master. I had my trusty 5D mkII shooting at around 1/4000th, f4.0, ISO 200 which lowered the ambient light about 1-1.5 stops. With my first shots I had my slaves set up close to the barrier which made for some high contrast side-lighting. In camera it looked like shit so I moved the lights after a few frames but after blowing it up I liked the look. I think in the future I'll raise the strobes up a bit to move the nose shadow. Helmets and those goofy hats that roadies tend to wear (don't ask me why) can cause problems with shadows. My biggest problems this past weekend came from focusing. No blasting off a few frames to hope to get the focus right and I couldn't close the aperture because the strobes aren't quite powerful to handle big f-numbers and high shutter speeds. High speed sync is great but it sucks away from the light's available power. Next time I may put the strobes on manual at full power and chimp a few frames to see exactly what kind of f-stop I can shoot at.
For the next shot I moved the lights a little farther back and had decent results.
I also pulled out my wide angle lens to get some very close shots next to barriers. Most of the people that crashed at the barriers did so at the first one. By lying down next to the second barrier I hoped to avoid having someone put a chainring into my head or step on my camera. I had my master pointed up and back at my two slaves which were positioned behind and over me. Again, the biggest problem I had was with focusing. I had to prefocus and hope that the racers ran through the right spot.
All in all, I'd say this attempt went better than the last and I'm learning to work around my equipment limitations. I can't wait to get some big strobes (I'm currently thinking Elinchrom Ranger AS Speed) and play around with those at the races.