how-to create movement in images using rear-curtain sync – take a look behind the scenes

Recently I was inspired to dust off my off-camera flash and have a play! I am not fully confident at using off-camera flash, so it often remains tucked away in my cupboard. A new weekly challenge on the 52 frames project encouraged me to get it out again. It was a good excuse to practise taking some images, as the theme was slow shutter speed using rear-curtain sync.

So what is rear-curtain sync?

When you use a flash for photography, it will normally fire at the same time as the camera shutter opens. When you set the flash to rear-curtain sync, it will fire just as the shutter is about to close. Combining this will a slow shutter speed leads to movement trails. These ghostly trails can give a sense of movement to an image.

Playing games

It was week 13 in the 52 frame challenge. The theme for the week was slow shutter speed. I decided to apply this method to some still life images. After raiding the toy box I decided it would be an effective technique when applied to board games.

I set my flash to one side and attached a diffuser to soften the light. The position of the flash allowed me to keep the black background unlit, which was the effect I was looking for. My camera was set to trigger the flash. So all I needed to do was to drop the dice and press the shutter button.

Behind the scenes using rear-curtain sync

The final images

As you can see the technique creates interesting images. They are more dynamic with a sense of movement. By using a flash, part of the image is also frozen.

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