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Tips & Tricks

How to Freeze Action With Strobes | The Slanted Lens

By Hanssie on July 4th 2015

slanted-lens-strobesTo freeze action in photography, you need light. Whether that light is ambient or from an artificial light, without enough light, your photo will be blurry. If you don’t have enough natural ambient light, you’ll need to turn to a strobe. In the following video, Jay P. Morgan from The Slanted Lens demonstrates how to freeze action using a strobe, and more specifically a monoblock.

The most important thing to understand before you begin is how your strobe works. Jay P. is using the Dynalite Baja B4‘s with a reflector in the video to light his subject, a warrior princess. There are three things he recommends to freeze the action in the shot above.

  1. Dial your power down
  2. Get the fastest shutter speed you can
  3. Shoot at peak action

freeze-action-with-strobes-1

Jay P. uses a four strobe set up to light various portions of the scene to give it more depth. Lights are used to illuminate not only the subject but the smoke and the subject’s hair as well. Smoke machines, fans, and an air cannon are used to create movement in the photo which adds to the image to make it look realistic. The image was actually created in the front lawn and driveway of a house. Using a fake rock wall and a trampoline, plus some creative lighting and some color retouching in post, Jay P. was able to create the shot as if the warrior was in the middle of nowhere ready to battle for her kingdom.

Head over to  Jay P.’s original post (or watch the video below), where he gives more details on flash duration, his light setup and how he processed the image.

Watch Freezing Action with Strobes

If you’re new to lighting and want to build a foundation, be sure to check out our Lighting 101 DVD available in the SLR store now.

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com. Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Tosh Cuellar

    thanks for sharing… great stuff as usual… love Jay’s videos

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  2. Stan Rogers

    Do note, though, that with many low-cost (or older) strobes, lowering the power actually *increases* the flash duration. Many newer and higher-end strobes will either cut off the power to the flash tube (as a speedlight does — you’ll usually see “IGBT” in your product documentation somewhere if this is how yours work) or change the number of capacitors being used (or both) in order to reduce power, and both of those approaches reduce the flash duration, making it easier to freeze action. Most older strobes, and current low-end strobes, change the voltage on the capacitor instead, and a lower voltage means a longer flash (because physics; no need to go into a long-winded explanation here). So if you’re a Paul C. Buff user, f’rinstance, turning your Einsteins down makes your flash quicker, but turning your AlienBees down makes ’em slower. For Profoto types, your D1s will get worse when you turn them down, but your B1s will get better. (Older-style flashes do get a little quicker coming down from full power to half power or a little above — usually — but it’s disappointment time from there on down.)

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  3. Paul Empson

    very good read.. much prefer text to video for getting to the detail..

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  4. Brandon Dewey

    Another great video! Thanks for the tips.

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