Today on the Slanted Lens, we’re going to show you how to freeze action with strobes, not high speed sync, but freezing action with monoblocks in normal flash mode. I’m going to use a trampoline, my Baja B4’s, and a warrior princess to illustrate this principle.
First, to understand how to freeze action with strobes you need to understand how strobes work. More importantly, how your strobes work. They’re all very different and you need to figure out how yours works to apply these principles.
Strobes are simply a flash of light. Most people think that flash is immediate because to our eyes it happens so fast we think it all happens at once. That’s really not the case at all. Strobes have what is called a flash duration. Flash duration is the amount of time it takes for a strobe to come to peak power and then to tail off.
Flash duration on a chart is like a shark’s fin. It makes a sharp rise up and then a slow fall off. Kind of like a tail.
T5 records the amount of time that the flash duration is above 50 percent.
T1 represents all the time that the flash is burning from the time it’s above 10 percent and then back down to 10 percent.
So consequently, a T1 give you a much better idea of the flash duration because 50 percent of the light is happening underneath that 50 percent mark. So it’s happening in the long tail off and that causes blur on your subject.
Nowadays, and the Baja B4 has this, there’s a modern technology that is called IGBT technology. It basically acts like a switch that turns the flash off quick and cuts it giving you a spike flash duration. This cuts a little bit of the power out but that spike flash duration is very short and allows you to stop action much easier.
For our photo shoot today I’m going to do 3 things to freeze the action. First, I am going to dial my power down to 50 percent on my Baja B4. It’s going to reduce the flash duration as I dial the power down. Now not all monoblocks will do this. Like the Einstein, it actually lengthens the flash duration when you dial the power down. So it’s important if you’re going to apply this principle you look at the manual for your monoblock and see if shortening the power actually reduces the flash duration.
Second, I’m going to shorten my shutter speed until I get a clip from the shutter speed on the image. So I’ll start out at 1/30 then 1/60 and keep dialing it down until finally it clips the frame. Then I’ll step back one step and that will be my shutter speed.
Third, I’m going to use the oldest trick in the book. All right, maybe not the oldest trick but certainly the second oldest trick in the book. It’s simply a matter that I am going to shoot at peak action. Everything that goes up has got to come down. So there’s that moment when it’s going up when it just pauses and then starts to come back down. Now I may not be able to hit that exact moment every single time but I can be very close to it. If I can shoot at that moment I’m going to be far more likely to freeze the action because the subject is not moving near as fast.
So there you have it:
1. Dial your power down
2. Get the fastest shutter speed you can
3. Shoot at peak action
I hoped you learned something about freezing action and that you can apply it to your strobes and to your situations. Thanks for watching. Keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’.