This image is set to the song ‘Just’ by Radiohead. The paint is poured over a balloon stretched over an upturned speaker.Exposure: 1sec at f/18 (ISO 400) Photograph/Richard Beech
Posted in News
10/02/2022

Tripod Techniques: Dance with Strobes

Have you ever wanted to capture the trajectory of a tennis serve or even the swirl of a dancer? Try using strobes.

This is an image of colourful paint bouncing in time to music from the vibrations of a speaker. Here, ‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson was played while the strobe was fired. Exposure: 1/200sec at f/13 (ISO 400) Photograph/Richard Beech

This is an image of colourful paint bouncing in time to music from the vibrations of a speaker. Here, ‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson was played while the strobe was fired. Exposure: 1/200sec at f/13 (ISO 400) Photograph/Richard Beech

Firing several flashes in rapid succession can help you make several overlapping images of a moving object appear in the same frame. Simply put, you will be freezing every instant of a football kick or a ballet dancer’s pirouette, all in one frame.

The Essential Ingredients
The reason why you need a tripod for this technique is because you need a constant frame to act as the stage for the motion to complete its trajectory. Secondly, you need a stationary background that is either very dark or too far away from the subject to get overexposed. And thirdly, you need to use any flashgun in the Stroboscopic mode.

Decoding the Exposure Calculation
The number of flashes you want to fire depends on how the motion is divided. Most flashes allow you to set 1–199 flashes. The number of flashes per second can be set on the flash unit. If you wish to freeze a tennis serve in 10 stages, and it takes the player 2 seconds for a serve, then the Flash Frequency = Number of stages:Duration of motion. That is, 10:2 = 5 flashes/sec. Thus, your exposure will be 2sec long.

This image is set to the song ‘Just’ by Radiohead. The paint is poured over a balloon stretched over an upturned speaker.Exposure: 1sec at f/18 (ISO 400) Photograph/Richard Beech

This image is set to the song ‘Just’ by Radiohead. The paint is poured over a balloon stretched over an upturned speaker.Exposure: 1sec at f/18 (ISO 400) Photograph/Richard Beech

Quick Tip
Firing multiple flashes consecutively is a strain on your flash unit. So try attempting a limited number of high frequency bursts and give the flash some time to cool off.

For more cool tips on tripods, click here.

This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Better Photography.

Tags: Ambarin Afsar, strobes, Paints, tripods, speakers

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