How To Avoid Ghosting


Film Photography with Strobe Lighting


Lesson Info

How To Avoid Ghosting

There's something else that can happen, too. So, if you are in a situation where you have a lot of ambient light coming in, and you're shooting with a low shutter speed, sometimes, if your ambient light and your flash light are at, or your strobe light, are at about the same level, and you're not able to close it off, with your shutter speed, you can get something called ghosting, and this is what ghosting looks like. So, this is the image, and then I wanted to zoom up, so you can see. So, it's this weird thing that happens where the strobe comes in, and it actually freezes the motion, but then you're also getting a little reflection of the ambient light off of your subject, and so it kind of gives this weird little stilted effect, and so it's not quite motion blur, it's its own little thing. It's hard to, I don't know how to describe it, but you can see it with your own eyes. I don't have to. Um, and one way to avoid ghosting is just to make sure that your strobe, the strobe light, is...

more powerful than your ambient light, so you can do that by adjusting your light. Uh, your meter, I'll show you that when we get metering, I'll show you this again, your meter will tell you how much of your light is ambient and how much of your light is the strobe, which is great, but another way you can control ghosting or avoid it is just by adjusting that shutter speed. So, with this situation again, so, here I was at 1/60, and I was getting ghosting, and here I was at 1/125, and it took care of the problem because I was able to bring up that shutter speed and kind of shut out some of that ambient light. Now, some people use this, what we know about shutter speeds and ambient light to their advantage, and you'll see this a lot of times at, like, weddings or wedding receptions. So, you're in a room, it's super, duper dark, people are dancing, there's some nice you know, lighting, the venue lighting, or whatever going on in the background, and you don't want your images to look totally black with just a person frozen in the black frame that you would get with a flash. And so people will open that shutter, called dragging your shutter, to bring in some of that movement and to get that, kind of, ghosting look intentionally so that you could be shooting, instead of shooting at 1/60 of a second, you could be shooting at 1/16 of a second or lower, and that flash is still gonna kind of freeze, but you're gonna get this shadow effect on the person's hand or dancing, or you're gonna see some of the lights, and it can be kind of a cool effect, so when you see that going on with wedding photographers who are shooting wedding receptions with strobes or flash, that's what they're doing, they're dragging their shutter. So, the shutter speed thing is pretty important. Now, I know I just told you that, like, burning studio lighting is super, duper easy, and then I hit you with all that shutter stuff. (laughing) But this is the most complicated it gets, I promise. To create sequential images from with different stops, what approach do you normally use? Fix aperture and change the shutter speed? Well, okay, remember your sync speed? So, you can only change your shutter speed to a certain extent. So, when we shoot with natural light, and I'm gonna talk about this more when we get into metering in just a second, but when we shoot with natural light, and we're setting, or doing, our metering, we usually are setting our ISO and our aperture, and then we're letting shutter speed fall where it may. That's opposite with strobe. So, you have to know your camera sync speed. It's very important because you don't wanna accidentally get that bar in your image, you know, that shutter shadow, so you always wanna start with your shutter speed when you're working with strobe or flash. Then, if you want to change your aperture, but you know you're stuck at 1/60 of a second, and you know you're stuck at an ISO because we're film shooters, then you change that aperture with the power of your light, turning up the power of your light, so that you can get to the aperture that you want. Does that make sense? Yes. I mean, it's a really good point. And, um, because, you know, in my intro class, I talk about the inherent limitations of film photography, and they're real, they're there. And I feel like I like those limitations a little bit, but this is one of them, so when you're a digital photographer, and you're shooting with strobes, you have a lot more options. First of all, most digital photographers will work at ISO 100 or so when they're shooting with strobes, um, most of the film stocks that we like to use, or that I use anyway, are 400, so already, you're stuck at a higher ISO, right? And then you're stuck at this low shutter speed. So that was, like, my fear when I said at the beginning was that I wouldn't be able to shoot wide open because if I'm at a high ISO and a low shutter speed, then one would think that you have to be at a higher stop down a bit more on your aperture. Does that make sense? So, it's a different kind of a balancing game when you're working with film. And we're gonna get into all this in a minute. I'm gonna show you how to do all of that, but it's a really good question. So, I would say to Ricardo, stick with me, We're gonna get to it. (laughing) Hopefully in a couple hours, you'll be like okay, I totally get it now, that makes sense.

Class Description

To get the best portrait straight out of camera you need to control your light. Family and Newborn Photographer, Sandra Coan, walks through how easy it is to use lights with your film camera for the most control over how your image ultimately looks. In this course, Sandra will talk about how to approach your photo shoot by thinking about not only your subject but also the film and the light you want to create.

You’ll learn:

  • How to sync the flash with your film camera
  • How to meter for your subject and the light you’re adding to the image
  • How to choose the best film based off what you’d like the final image to look like

Throughout history, photographers have been using flash with film cameras. In this course, Sandra will cover everything to give you the knowledge to start taking portraits with your camera and strobes.


a Creativelive Student

Wow! with a lot of online stuff out there one can become rather overcome with too much information, however, the way Sandra presents her courses is just perfect! Her honest and simple and easy to understand approach was just what I needed. Not once did I think she was just going through the motions, she really loves what she does and it shows. To be able to rewatch and rewatch was also a key for me. Since I have dyslexia I have to take things one half step at a. time. After completion of the class I had a new found confidence when using strobes. A must have.

Micah Hewett Images

Out of all the classes I own on Creative Live, Strobe Lighting with Sandra is my FAVORITE! She is an incredibly kind and gifted teacher. She explains everything on a simple level and then gradually build to more complex issues. I am 100% happy with this course. Thank you Sandra!!

Gabby de Janasz

Sandra Coan is a lighting genius! I loved watching her high-energy and super informative class. I learned way more about studio lighting than I ever thought was possible. I'd definitely recommend this class to literally any person in photography, not just studio photographers. Thanks Sandra!!