The setup Prepare for stroboscopic beauty
Here’s what you need to create a multi-flash portrait with beautifully smooth movement
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.
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.
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.
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.