Freezing Action with Strobes

Today on The Slanted Lens, we’re talking about freezing action using strobes by shortening your flash duration. Come and check it out!!


Freezing Action With Strobes

Strobes can be used in a lot of creative ways. Today we’re in New York city testing out our strobe lights to create images that pop with the help from our lovely talent Michelle Lim.

Flash Duration

You can use the flash duration of a strobe to stop motion. The amount of time for a flash to get to its full power can be shortened to help freeze action. However, with a shortened flash duration, you lose some of that power. The goal is to find the balance between freezing action and enough exposure for your image. If a strobe has the ability to cut the flash duration, a little experimentation might need to be done to find the sweet spot. There might be a chart for your particular light available online that has flash duration and exposure already made. We used the Dynalite Baja B4 and found a chart on their website.

Different Modes

By using just the flash duration we can still see some ambients from the background. This means shooting at a lower shutter speed. We sacrifice some blur in our subject, which might be a good compromise depending on the situation.

We can shorten our shutter speed and shorten our flash duration to really freeze action, but we lose that ambient light from the background that we love. Since we’re in such a beautiful location, a little bit of blur is fine to see our subject in her environment.

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We can throw the strobe to the background instead of on the subject to get some creative shots as well.


Typically, I don’t like going over 640 ISO since it introduces noise to the image. Bumping up the ISO helps my shutter speed so I don’t have to go quite as low. This allows me to still maintain the background I want with a little less blurring. The compromise here is noise. We found the sweet spot for Michelle’s face to be in focus but still have a slight blur in the fabric to create some movement.

Keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!

– Jay P.


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