In modern photography, different phases of movement can be captured in a single image with photographic techniques within fractions of a second. This is possible with “strobe photography” and today we’ll discuss about it in this article.
All the elements that we have in our photography equipment, we can use them in various ways. One of them is the external flash, with which we can create a series of photos to put together a very striking project.
Definition and Meaning of Strobe Photography
Before learning this photographic style, we must know definition of strobe photography. It is one in which the FLASH Mode is used, causing its flashes to fire in different directions and at a certain frequency.
Due to this, it is that in this type of images different captures of the same object or subject can be reflected. In other words, it works perfectly for shooting sequences. Although in the day to day it is more used to photograph motion sequences, in itself of everything that implies a progressive change. The first thing you have to do is set an approximate time of action in which the same image will be captured.
Strobe photography is a technique used to photograph events that occur at high speed, being impossible to observe them with the naked eye. It is also used as an artistic technique making multiple flash shots, during the different places of movement of the object to be photographed, in the same frame.
The stroboscope is an instrument invented by the Austrian mathematician and inventor Simon von Stampfer, around 1829, which makes it possible to visualize an object that is rotating as if it were stationary or spinning very slowly. This principle is used for the study of rotating or vibrating objects, such as machine parts and vibrating strings.
It allows you to turn on and off any light, in a given period, the number of times you want. This device is widely used in nightclubs, on airplanes and in film production to give the impression of fast movements.
Let’s take an example, you can calculate a certain time to photograph the throwing of a ball. After having chosen the time, you will have to decide how many sequences you want to include within your frame. If you want to photograph the movement of the ball in 6 or 8 shots. Finally, you have to determine the frequency per second, this is done through a simple formula, which is:
Number of Shots / Time = Frequency Per Second
The result is called the value in Hertz, which is what you need to make this kind of captures.
Strobe Flash and Its Different Modes
To be able to take this type of photography with the strobe flash, we must know the different flash modes. In addition, it is the main element that is required to do strobe photography. For this reason, the first thing you have to know are the different modes in which the external flash works.
Automatic Mode: In the same way as our camera, it has an automatic mode, the external flash also has one. This is one of the basic modes, which already come with preset parameters.
Manual Mode: This works similar to that of your camera. This means that you are the one who has all the control over the tool. This is how you can decide the parameters to achieve a correct exposure.
TTL Mode: These acronyms refer to “through the lens” (through the lens). Refers to the measurement of flare through your photographic lens. When that flash is captured by your lens, that’s when you decide if you are applying the appropriate parameters for a correct exposure. Actually, it is an automatic function, it does not require any type of calculation.
Strobe Mode: Many people underestimate this feature on flashes. However, it is quite useful and consists of firing different flashes in a certain time, always using a strict frequency. This is precisely the Mode we need to do Strobe Photography. You can use studio strobe flash for for stunning strobe photography without much efforts.
Well, we already talked briefly about flash firing modes, in which we find the mode in charge of providing us with a beautiful range of strobe photography. By definition, strobe photography is one that is done using this flash mode in which light is fired several times at a frequency. Strobe photography can reflect multiple shots of the same subject a number of times in a single composition. It works to capture sequences, in general, but it is commonly used for sequences of movement, light and everything that implies a progressive change.
Tips to Keep in Mind to Capture Strobe Photos
Now that you know all about flash modes and what this picture style is, we will give you some tips for capturing strobe photos.
1. The first step is to set up for strobe photography. If we are taking these photographs, it is because we are driving our camera backwards and to the right. In these cases, total control of the photographic parameters is required to configure strobe photography.
2. The tripod for strobe photography is essential. As we will be photographing a subject several times, that means that we will be working with a long exposure. This means that we need to have the greatest possible stability. If you want to avoid blur problems or shaky images, it is best to use a tripod for strobe photography.
3. Work with the highest ISO to have a better light in strobe photography. Since we are working with closed diaphragm aperture, you can try working with ISO values higher than 100. Try within that range to see how the light works for you in strobe photography. Although, you should not forget about photographic noise. Try to use a minimum ISO sensitivity, the lowest you can use in your equipment. Without seeing that it is still not enough, you can go up to 200 or 400, always taking into account the appearance of photographic noise.
4. Use the manual mode of the camera. If we are experimenting with this mode, it is because we are more than aware of the manual use of the camera. We will need a completely custom capture to achieve the required results. Also, the automatic mode may cause overexposures in photos.
5. Closed opening. There are no fixed or mandatory values for aperture, but the truth is that it must be closed enough to achieve complete sharpness. Remember that the smaller the aperture, the greater the depth of field and the greater clarity and precision of the compositional elements. In addition to this, we must bear in mind that the flash will be a resource that probably diminishes a lot of importance to a very open diaphragm.
6. Use light tones for backgrounds in strobe photos. One of the characteristics of strobe photography is that the objects within our composition look well defined. This gives it a unique appeal in reference to the background. To avoid unwanted shadows, it is best to take the photos with a background quite far away. This can also be avoided by using backgrounds for strobe photography, such as a black one.
In any case, always remember that you have the option to make adjustments with digital editing programs, so you can darken the backgrounds or even remove traces of unwanted effects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What is Multi or Strobe Mode?
Answer: Strobe mode is a feature that some flash units have, that allows them to fire multiple flashes of light in a specified period of time at a specified frequency, allowing you to capture sequences of a moving subject and reflect it in a single shot.
Q2: How to know the frequency per second in strobe mode?
Answer: The first thing we must do to understand how to take strobe photography is to establish an approximate time of an action that we want to capture in the same photograph. For example, we can calculate an approximate time of a ball throw or a half-court shot.
Later, you must decide how many sequences you want to include in the frame. For example, if you want to reflect the movement of the ball in 5 or 10 shots, it is a number that you must set.
And finally, apply a simple formula to determine the frequency per second that goes like this: Number of shots / times = Frequency per second. This will then tell you that value in Hertz that you must configure.
Q3: In what situations can I do strobe photography?
Answer: We had mentioned very briefly that strobe photography is one that captures a sequence expressed in a single capture. The practical possibilities are endless. Strobe mode is widely used when trying to photograph someone doing sports, such as capturing the entire path from point A to point B.
Likewise, I have seen many photographs of birds in flight, where the moment of takeoff and the movement of the wings are obviously recorded. Remember that these two actions mentioned as examples have a fairly short frequency per second, but the camera is still capable of collecting all that information.