Capturing moments frozen in time is an art that continually evolves with innovative techniques and creative concepts. One such technique that has gained significant attention is the art of creating “Hadouken photos.” Inspired by the iconic move from the world of video games, where energy surges and power are harnessed, Hadouken photos combine timing, imagination, and photographic skills to produce striking and dynamic visual narratives. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer looking to add a new dimension to your portfolio or an enthusiastic beginner eager to experiment, this guide will delve into the intricacies of creating Hadouken photos. Join us as we explore the fusion of creativity, photography, and a touch of gaming nostalgia, unlocking the secrets to crafting captivating images that seem to harness the very essence of energy itself.

The Hadouken Photo


The Equipment and Settings

How We Shot It

The concept of stop-action photography has been around forever, of course, but it seems like people are getting more and more creative with it lately!  Or just fun and silly…  ;-)  Here’s how we captured this popular type of image:

First, there are two ways you can stop action like this in mid-air.  You can either shoot in broad daylight with an extremely fast shutter speed like 1/4000 sec or 1/8000 sec, or you can shoot in darker conditions and use a flash to “freeze” things.  For this shot, we used a 1/60 sec. shutter speed simply because it was dark enough that ambient light was not a factor on our subjects.  Our flashes are going to “pop” at a speed that measures in the thousandths of a second, so we’re good to go!

The main light shining on them is a wireless flash that is positioned to my left, at about 1/32 or 1/16 power.  I prefer to simply time my shots perfectly and nail it with one click, as opposed to simply blasting away with my strobes firing at 5-8 FPS.  However if you like to put a little extra wear-and-tear on your flash tubes, they should be able to fire rapidly if you bump up your ISO or something and get to 1/64 or 1/128 power.

Also to conserve flash power, I would shoot these kinds of images with bare flash, instead of using a softbox or umbrella.  “Hard” light looks cool and dramatic in these situations, anyways!

I used the RadioPopper JRX system with RPCubes attached to my Nikon SB80 flashes, so even though I don’t have TTL wirelessly I do have manual control over my flash power by turning the dials of my on-camera JRX Transmitter.  Of course there are no markings for actual flash power values on the JRX, so I am really just guessing when I say the flashes were at 1/32 or 1/16.  Another beautiful thing about the JRX system is that you can use almost any flash, regardless of whether you shoot Canon or Nikon! For example a Canon shooter could control these Nikon SB80 flashes just as easily as I can, and similarly I was able to remotely control a Canon 430EX with my Nikon camera!

In retrospect, I do wish I had another flash to shine from my right onto her face, maybe with a snoot so that it is very direct and not splashing everywhere, however my third backup flash wasn’t readily available.

I wanted to do something slightly different from what most people have been doing, so I decided to try and add a flash to create something that looked like “a burst of energy”.  So I placed a flash in the background, about 20 feet behind our subjects, and I simply composed my shot very carefully.  (And then Photoshopped out the light stand that was holding the flash, of course!)  Here’s what the original, un-edited image looked like:


NOTE:  The flash in the back has a warming gel on, however the flash to my left is regular daylight balanced, and I set my camera’s WB between 5,000 and 6,000 Kelvin.

hadouken lighting diagram

The Post-Processing

From the un-processed original, you can tell that I performed a little bit of cropping, as well as some burning & dodging.

Overall, I used an SLR Lounge Preset in Lightroom 5 for HDR type portraits.  It is designed to boost shadows and preserve highlights, without making skin tones look god-awful like they can in most HDR type images.

I also used a couple brushes from the SLR Lounge Preset System to darken the ground and hide that “light spill” a little bit, plus another to brighten the sky, and then one more to add a little “pop” to the burst of light in the background.  Also, overall I brightened up the image a little bit more, partly because I actually wanted a nearly-blown look to the image.  Because of the whole “energy burst” thing, ya know?  Anyways, that’s about it!