The setup Pre­pare for stro­bo­scopic beauty

Here’s what you need to cre­ate a multi-flash por­trait with beau­ti­fully smooth move­ment

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01 Tri­pod

We need to keep the shut­ter open for a sec­ond or so to al­low the mo­tion and flashes to be cap­tured. The cam­era must stay still through­out, so a tri­pod is a must. Our ex­po­sure time was 0.8 sec­onds here, dur­ing which there were 8 flashes.

02 Speed­light

The stro­bo­scopic look is cre­ated with a se­quence of quick flashes. Most modern speed­lights are ca­pa­ble of it. The burst il­lu­mi­nates the sub­ject sev­eral times dur­ing the shot, al­low­ing us to cre­ate a frag­mented ac­tion shot.

03 dark room

If there’s too much am­bi­ent light then the sub­ject will be blurred, so turn off the lights and block any win­dows (but leave enough am­bi­ent light to see, no one wants to trip over a light stand!) If you don’t have space, try shoot­ing out­doors at night.

04 Back­drop

A dark back­drop is es­sen­tial. If it’s too light then it’ll seep into the sub­ject and weaken the shapes we’re cre­at­ing. A seam­less roll of dark grey vinyl like this is ideal, as the curved base re­sults in a smooth tran­si­tion be­tween back­drop and floor.

05 Wire­less Trig­ger

As is usu­ally the case when us­ing a speed­light, we’re bet­ter off fir­ing it off-cam­era than hav­ing it at­tached to the hot shoe. So use a wire­less trig­ger and re­ceiver. It gives us the free­dom to po­si­tion the light freely. A sync ca­ble will also work.

06 Flag

The rapid fire flash has a cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect, so any sta­tion­ary parts of the scene that are hit by the flash will turn out very bright. As such an­gle the flash away and block it from hit­ting the back­drop with a flag. We used a 5-in-1 re­flec­tor to block the flash.

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