How to combine strobes and LED lights for captivating sports portraits

May 31, 2022

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

How to combine strobes and LED lights for captivating sports portraits

May 31, 2022

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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Light painting can be a lot of fun, and it’s even more fun when you combine it with regular old flash to create dynamic and interesting images. Portraits, particularly of athletes or dancers can provide the perfect subject for experimenting with this technique as it appears to show movement in a still image, which is what sport and dance are all about really.

In the video below, photographer Bee Trofort shows us how she captured these intriguing images of an athlete using a combination of Spiffy Gear’s innovative wrist wrap light bracelets, the KYU-6.

YouTube video

3 light Set up

Bee uses a typical 3 light set-up with the key light in front of the subject and two gridded kicker lights behind which light up either side of the subject. The kicker lights should usually be a touch brighter and be harder light than the key light. An important thing to note is to turn off any modelling lights so that the studio is as dark as possible for capturing the LED lights.

It’s important to have your camera set up on a tripod for maximum stability because don’t forget you’re combining strobes with continuous lighting to get that long exposure effect.

Then Bee put the LED wrist bands on her subject set to various different colours for different effects. They are incredibly easy to use, have a variety of colours and effects, and you can also change the brightness.

Rear Curtain Sync

So what camera settings do you need to achieve this effect? Well, it’s actually quite simple. You’re essentially combining two different exposures in one. You need to use rear curtain sync so that the flash pops at the end of the exposure, freezing the action. You can control the brightness either by changing the aperture or by the flash output levels.

The shutter speed controls the ambient lighting, in this case, the LED lights and the light painting. Bee recommends trying anything between 3 and 10 seconds. This gives your subject plenty of time to experiment with movement before the strobe flashes freezing the action.

Ultimately it will take some trial and error between your settings and what your subject is doing, but that’s all part of the beauty of photography, especially light painting.

The KYU-6 LED wrist wraps are available for $49.99 from the website and come in either RGB or Bi-Colour.

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Alex Baker

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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2 responses to “How to combine strobes and LED lights for captivating sports portraits”

  1. Dra Man Avatar
    Dra Man

    I’m sorry, I hate putting down work of others but this looks awful. Like a kid doodled on some good photos. There are so many more creative ways to do this and there are people like Eric Pare that bring dignity to light painting. These photos above are goofy, unprofessional and don’t add anything to the context…and there’s an article on it on this website. Gimmick.

    1. BB Avatar
      BB

      Hard to disagree here. And Eric Paré’s work is truly magnificent. Especially compared to these “doodlings”.