June 12, 2010

Strobe Tips

If you happen to have a fancy flash unit laying around, such as a Nikon SB-800 or SB-900, you can get some cool looking shots with the strobe mode. If you don't have one of these flashes you'll have to use a strobe light from amazon or whatever else you can get to work. The end result will look something like a stop motion video all on one frame. A well done shot may come out like this:

To do this shot I had the flash just to the right of the frame firing 8 low power shots at 100Hz. The shutter was open for 1/13 of a second so I had to close the aperture to f/25 so that the rest of the room would stay black (I took this in the middle of the day). If I hadn't closed the aperture it would looks like this:

It is easy enough to solve for this problem if you can get the flash off of the camera. If you can't do that you just have to make sure the background is completely black and/or far enough away where it wont be illuminated. Even something that looks black can be reflective enough to show up with enough flashes as can be seen by this picture:

As you can see, some the of the paper to the left was not in a shadow and definitely isn't black any more. This picture also brings up another thing you can do with a good flash unit. Since I knew what frequency the flash was strobing at and the projectile was being shot in front of a ruler the speed could be determined. This particular shot was going about 75 feet per second. If you want more details about how this picture was used go to The blog entry it was used in from Room 203 Technology. I helped out with this project a little bit (mostly just took pictures) and if you have even a little bit of nerd in you you'll find it pretty cool. Another thing to remember is that even though you are using flash it's still a long exposure so it's best to use a tripod unless you want your picture to turn out like this:

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