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Controlling Time and Motion with Flash

Lesson 3 of 8

Why Use Strobes

Erik Valind

Controlling Time and Motion with Flash

Erik Valind

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Lesson Info

3. Why Use Strobes

Lesson Info

Why Use Strobes

So why do we use strobes? That's a good question. After all these different ways that we've found out to stabilize shots without even using strobes. There are a couple things to consider, there are drawbacks. So if we want to use a low ISO, like ISO 100 or ISO 200, that doesn't absorb a lot of light very efficiently. So we normally get the slow shutter speeds we've been talking about. And no noise, but we get blurry images. And if we don't want blurry photos, we have to use all those techniques, we have to think about panning and think about bringing a tripod with us on location, there's a lot of more consideration to put into it. We can turn up our ISO, that's one thing to do. So with the high ISO, we get a faster shutter speed, which is good but at the same time you start to get more noise in your image. So you notice the girl that was out there, the yoga girl, she was tack sharp, right? But if you really woulda looked at the file at 3200 ISO I was gettin' some grain in there. So the...

re is a drawback, there's always a trade a little bit. So finally, we can have low ISO, and shoot at any shutter speed we want and we can still freeze our subjects if we add strobes. So that's the big reason I like to implement strobes into my action photography is 'cause it opens a lot more doors for me. So we can skip through all these, 'cause it's the same thing. Alright, and our very next one there we go, this is what I wanted to show you. So here's an example of a shot that I did recently and this is in downtown L.A., anyone been down there? There's the really cool underpasses downtown on L.A. So there was this was nice shaft of light we're shootin' underneath the highway and I had this guy who could just do incredible things. So I was like, "Hey do a front flip," Okay, "Do a backflip," Okay, "Jump off of that," Okay. So I wanted to kind of freeze the motion and really take advantage of this really amazing subject I had. But the problem was underneath the overpass where we were shooting, was really dark, 'cause it was just this little shaft of light coming in. So here's a video, a behind the scenes video, of us shooting I employed strobes to freeze the motion to be able to get me some shots that I wouldn't be able to get because I was using such a slow shutter speed otherwise. I mean, who can do that just standing up? And these are what those final photos look like. Now if I were shooting at 1/50 of a second or 60th of second like I was to be able to get the exposure in there by itself, he would have blurred. So I was setting my camera at a slow enough shutter speed so that he would be illuminated here and then what I did is I set strobe lights up on either side those are those rim lights that you see and that's what was freezing him. So this is a mix of ambient light and strobe lights. I used the strobes to freeze the edges of him and I used the slow shutter speed to freeze or to fill everything else with the ambient light. So this is kind of a neat combination. When I did this shot starting out with natural light I wasn't able to get the exposure I wanted. The faster shutter speed was giving me, I needed too high of an ISO, I knew the client would want to print these photos out pretty large, so I didn't want to do a high ISO. So I was like, okay how do I get the best of both worlds? How do I freeze this with a clean file? And strobes, that was the answer. This image right here as well. This was shot, I talked about the behind the scenes of this in my previous class. This was shot after sunset, the sun is fake, the lighting on her is all strobe lighting and I have this camera on a tripod so that my background isn't shaking and I have an exposure about like 1/30 of a second. So what I did is I had my camera, tripod, low ISO, and I exposed for the ground, and I exposed for the car, and I exposed for the mountains, and that gave me that tack sharp because there was no camera shake. And then I have motion blur to fight now too 'cause I have a dancer, so camera shake and motion blur, two things. So the second problem I solved with strobe lights. So a combination again of strobe light and slow shutter speed were able to give me a really cool photo. So it's this combination, once you start balancing them, really unlocks all kinds of really cool photography.

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!


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