TAKE IT FURTHER Freeze action with flash
Discover how to stop high-speed action with hotshoe flash. Ali Jennings shows you how
A flashgun is a superb tool for freezing high-speed action, but you need to know what you’re doing if you are going to make time stand still with your strobe. Get it right and you can get perfectly sharp shots, even when your subject is moving very quickly, without the need for a super-fast shutter speed.
In this project we’re going to take a look at how to use fairly simple, affordable equipment (a couple of hotshoe flashguns and a set of wireless flash triggers) to freeze the action of a dancer mid-leap.
The secret to this technique is using the very short duration of the flash – as short as 1/40,000th of a second. If everything else in the room is dark, the light emitted from the flash effectively becomes your camera’s shutter speed, making it perfect for capturing motion.
Aside from the camera kit and a sizeable space, you’ll also need a few other items, including a black background that’s wide enough to give your dancer enough room to allow her to leap, and a trio of tripods to hold and position your strobes and your Nikon D-SLR. We used a black theatrical drape, but a paper roll would do. Alternatively, shoot outdoors at night and use the night as your black background… make sure you have plenty of dark empty space.
This technique works with any fast-moving subject. It’s great for taking pictures of children, who will have fun leaping for a photo.
So with your strobes at the ready, here’s how to capture the shot.