Flash Photography | Second Curtain Sync

What is Second Curtain Sync?

If you want to have good looking images taken with your external flash in the low light situations, please find explained in simple, what is Second Curtain Sync, and how to implement this great functionallity.

Second Curtain Synh is is usually done in the situation when you do not have a lot of light in your frame.

It requires  to shoot with :

  • on camera flash
  • and with slow shutter speed.

How Shutter Works

The shutter is made up of 2 curtains that open and close to reveal and highlight from our camera sensor.

These curtains have names, First and Second .

When you press the shutter realise on your camera the First Curtain opens to reveal the light to your sensor.

Then the Second Curtain closes and everything resets for the next shot.

When we add the flash to our camera we can tell to fire right after first curtain opens or just before the second curton began to close.

When we tell our flash to fire just before second curtain closes, we are using second curtain sync.

Depending when our flash fires we can get interesing results, expecially when our shutter speed is set to very slow speed.

In this blog post i am going to explain to you how you can combine a Slow Shutter Speed and the Flash to get blur and frozen image at the same time.

Steps to activate Second Curtain Sync:

  • Set your Flash to Second Curtain Sync. You can recognize it as 3 little triangles on your flash unit. Most flash units are set like this, if you can not find it, please check user manual in order to find it.
  • Set your camera for example  to Apeture Priority Mode, ISO at 400.

If you set your gear that way, your model is not going to be blured and if you have in the background moving subjects (cars), the Model will be frozen and moving subjects will be blured.

Lets dive more into first and second curtain in order to understand better.

Lets say for example that flash fire as soon as the 1st curtain open. The Flash will freeze the Model, but if the Model continue to move, or the photographer, that movement will come into lens, while the shutter is still open, and as result  we will have blured Model. 

On the other hand, if the flash fire just before the second curtain began to close, your model is going to be frozen and nice looking.


The best way to apply these settings is low light situations like wedding reception or shooting in the night. As a final result you will have good looking images, with nice looking and frozen subjects.  

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