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Controlling Time and Motion with Flash

Lesson 5 of 8

Light Setup: Freezing Motion with Strobes

Erik Valind

Controlling Time and Motion with Flash

Erik Valind

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Lesson Info

5. Light Setup: Freezing Motion with Strobes

Lesson Info

Light Setup: Freezing Motion with Strobes

We are gonna jump in. We've got our subject up here, alright. He is a boxer and did anyone watch the UFC? I'm sorry, I don't know if it's insulting to talk about the last UFC fight or not real fight. Professional boxing is different. If you've ever seen a boxer warm up or been punched by a boxer, the fists move very fast, okay? So I figured this gentleman right here, incredible athlete, super fast hands, would give us more than enough trouble freezing a photograph of him moving. So, thank you so much for coming out and modeling for us. Just like I showed in the shots outside, we're gonna want to wrap our subject in light, alright? Because if we just leave to the nice lights we have here in the studio, our shots are gonna blur. If I could just set up my camera and we'll actually do it. Let's take the flash off, and are we set up the tether? Yeah. Alright, so, I'm gonna grab this and we're just gonna use the LEDs that we have up here. I'm at F11, let's do mode, aperture priority mode...

, alright. You can just kind of like. What's that? (camera snaps) Replugging the tether. So, if you can hear from my mic the camera right now is telling me at F11, at ISO 200. I'm gonna have a two second exposure in here. That's not gonna freeze anything. I don't care how much panning I do or the fact that I'm on a tripod or vibration compensation. That's just not gonna work. We're just resetting. Did it come up? We're just gonna reset tether here really quick. When something stops working, you just basically unplug everything, turn it all off and plug it all back in. What we're doing is, we're working on the Nikon D850. We're over here to the Macbook Pro. I've got Capture One here and we've got it tethered to this cable, which are incredible. They're bright orange, I mean, even I can't trip on them, which is great. I'm gonna use a 24 to 70 millimeter lens and when I'm shooting in studio, I know I want to get some tight shots, some wide shots. I really like to go with a zoom lens, which gives me some more options. So, got that set up. Here you go, just on the bar. Cool. There we go. I'm gonna go ahead and get my frame. I don't even need to take a shot of this because you guys can. I can tell you the camera settings already. F11 I'm at one second, okay? Let me crank my ISO, I'm at ISO 3200, which is as high as I am comfortable going. I'm getting a 1/15 of a second. Like still, a very slow one. Alright, I'm at F11. What if I go to 5.6 at ISO 3200? I'm getting 1/60 of a second and you remember that reference chart I showed you over there? That's not gonna freeze anything. If I have a portrait subject sitting very still, maybe I can get away with that, but most of the times when you're in a gym, like I've been asked to shoot in gyms a lot where people train, this is about how bright the light is gonna be. So, I'm not freezing any motion, unfortunately indoors. That's why I wanna start bringing our strobes in the equation. You might have to plug in the power. Okay, so, I'm gonna let him set that up. I'm gonna go ahead and run you through our lights. We talked about wrapping our subjects in lights. I'm gonna do a couple different modifiers to kind of control what we're doing. So, again, we're using all Broncolor Siros. They're 800 watt seconds and you guys saw the specs on them, I mean, pretty much every power setting is gonna give us extremely fast flash duration, which is what I look for in a strobe. They're also battery-powered, which is convenient because I don't have to have any cables running anywhere. The only cable I have is bright orange. That's the only one and I wanted it to be a non trippable as possible. So, what we've got here is L40 reflector. It's gonna give us a nice 40 degrees spread of light. You're gonna notice I have these guys on here. These little eyebrows, there's our barn doors, and what that's gonna do is it's gonna allow me to focus this on my subject. I'll turn on the modeling light here. The barn doors are gonna allow me to kinda narrow the light in just on him. You notice we have a nice, black sweep here. The goal is to have a photograph that's completely black, background and everything, and then have our subject with nice rim lights and freezing the motion as he's stretching, as he's shadowboxing, and he's working around. This is gonna control that spill so none of that light is gonna fall onto the background and light the background. What that does is having that kinda light control, saves me time in Photoshop. I'm not cutting out my subject in dropping him onto a black background, he's already there, he's perfect. That's our first one, I'm gonna raise this back up. I've got this set up so that he can move around. If you look on the wall back there, maybe one of the cameras can see, it can really cut down the light. Or I can do it on the ground here. It's really hard definition, a hard line of control that you get which is nice. Let me go ahead and tilt that back up and I'll have you kind of a step forward just by the blue tape, right there. You can look straight ahead for me, perfect. So with the modeling light on, it's nice. The modeling light allows you to see what you're gonna get. Whereas you have a speed light or a smaller flash, you're gonna have to take the photo, move the light, take the photo, move the light. With studio strobes, you just turn the modeling light on, adjust your light where you want it, and turn the modeling light off. It's kinda nice. The reason I turned it off is because it's battery-powered. I don't wanna kill the battery. Alright, so... That's on, alright. (man walks) Let's turn our second one on and what I'm doing here is I'm gonna walk around my subject in 360 degrees, and I'm gonna make sure he is wrapped in light. So, first thing I'm starting with is the rim back here, which isn't as important but I wanted to get those out of the way. Now we're gonna walk around to the front here. We're gonna use our key light, which in this case we're gonna have a Broncolor Para 133. In my class tomorrow, again another shameless point for tomorrow's class, we're gonna talk about sculpting light. We're gonna have an incredible athlete like this, great muscles, great definition, I'm gonna talk about what modifiers do you use. How to really use a parabolic in depth, how it becomes hard light and soft light. Not so worried about this now, but it's gonna give us some nice, beautiful shape of light is kinda what we're looking for. So, we're just swapping up the cables that we're done. Yeah. Cool, alright. Always have multiple tether cables. So, let me flip this around here so we can see what's going on inside, alright. I've got my Para here, it's like a deep umbrella. It's kind of the simplest way to explain it. What it's gonna do is if I stand right here, I get an echo. It's gonna gather the light around the edge and give me this nice, perfect shaft of light. That's gonna give me good coverage but it's also gonna be very three dimensional. So, that's what I'm gonna use as my key light. The important thing is how big it is. 133 centimeters it's gonna be shy of a five-foot octave but, I mean, he's a tall dude and I wanna make sure I'm covering him in light because again, only the things that are touched by the light are what's gonna be frozen. (equipment clicks) Alright. We're live. We're live? Cool. So I'm gonna bring that in. There we go.

Class Description

Using flashes to freeze motion is a great way to add more energy and excitement to your photographs, but the technical aspects of setting up the shot can be challenging. Renowned photographer Erik Valind is here to give you all the tips and tricks you need to use a variety of lights—from small speedlights to large studio strobes—to control time and stop motion.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Make your images look sharp as a tack.
  • Strike a balance between ambient and strobe lights.
  • Create a blurred effect with your flash.

If you’re looking to up your photography game by creating wow-worthy, stop-motion images with a variety of lighting options, then this is the class for you!

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Dave Sincere

Let me say.. Erik Valind is my new favorite CreativeLive presenter. His videos are clear and precise. He doesn't waste time rambling about other things, he sticks to topic and subject at hand. This is my second class and I must say I'm presently impressed. I've been shooting for 2 years and I learned a few new tips on each vid.


I really enjoy Erik Valind’s instructional video. I think that I have seen them all – B&H event space, Kelby One, and now, Creativelive. This is another useful video and a lot of information. HOWEVER, I cringed every time (and I’m sure that Einstein did too) that Erik said that the strobes changed the speed of light!!! It was almost unbearable to listen to lesson 4 on flash duration. I know what he wanted to convey but what he said numerous times is wrong – the speed of light is the universal constant “c” such as in E = mc^2. It does not change. Erik likes Broncolor because their output is “powerful” and consistent enough to deliver a fairly high intensity of light over a short period of time – duration. But the speed of all the light emanating from the strobe is constant (the constant c) whether the duration is 1/500 or 1/5000 of a sec. Again, I really enjoy Erik’s work but this was like fingernails on a blackboard.

Adrian Clarke

Quick and to the point was always his style and this was no different. I was learning at a fast comfortable pace as he was along, another great tutorial Mr V. Now I want to do some boxing self portraits