Ace it with flash!
Claire Gillo serves up her guide to freezing action with motion blur
Freeze action and capture motion blur in a single shot – just set up your off-camera flash for rear curtain sync
Freezing action and capturing motion blur at the same time may sound like a contradiction but it is possible if you use an external flash. The shutter speed enables you to capture the motion blur, and the flash freezes the action.
For this tutorial, as well as a flashgun you’ll need a wide-angle lens. You’ll also need a model who is happy to serve ball after ball. We had tennis coach Martin Wright as ours, and he was perfect as he was able to serve endlessly on cue. The trick with this shoot is to tell your player where you want them to hit the ball. Place markers on the ground so they know the spot to aim for.
The weather conditions matter. Avoid shooting on a windy day as it’s harder for your model to control the ball. Clouds in the background – fluffy, white ones or dark, stormy ones – create a more interesting result. We positioned Martin in front of the sun, which meant his face and body were in shadow. We then lit him from the side with our flashgun to create intense shadows. When photographing sports, shadows help exaggerate the muscles and form of the body.
So get ready to game, set and match your flash photography skills!