Professional technology: Rear-curtain flash sync

Professional technology: Rear-curtain flash sync

“Talk about a challenge! The inventor of the Platypod ecosystem, Dr. T, asked me to pay for it again knowing I love a challenge. Beautiful backdrop. Continuous LED panel light for blurred motion. Rear curtain sync flash illuminates the subject above the blur. I clicked on the Local saxophonist Chris Kounellis and I hit the red rocks at sunset.

Note: I am a Platypod Pro user and was given equipment and paid to create this image. However, I do not recommend using equipment that I do not use or appreciate.


These types of images can be difficult to take. It needs to be dark enough for the LED light to allow the subject to darken. This usually means that the background will not have enough light. Stars need a higher ISO and more time to register in the image. what should be done? I used a technique used in astronomical landscape photography, called Blend. When shooting a combination, the camera is held in place and multiple images are taken of each respective area over a period of time.

Preliminary blur capture and rear-curtain flash sync
Wait until the ambient light drops low enough for the LED to illuminate the saxophonist’s movement. A 3.2 second exposure with the subject held in the low position for 2 seconds before moving. The flash fires at the end of the exposure to freeze the subject on top of the action.

The moving image of the saxophonist was the most challenging. Chris was a trooper in doing the moves to show the action. We tried different timing exposures starting at 2 seconds and continuing longer. Ultimately, a 3.2 second exposure resulted in the winner. The sequence was to open the shutter and have Counelis stay in the down position with the saxophone by his feet for two seconds before raising the instrument into the sky and freezing it while the flash fired and eventually freezing it with the rear curtain synchronized. Additionally, we experimented with different dialed colors in the LumeCube LED pro panel. In all, Chris did the move about 30 times. I chose the best ones to blend into the final image.

Sedona red rocks SOOC photo
This image has been processed several times for the stars and Middle Earth.

The final photo of the background and center ground was taken after dark and captured the stars.

The last saxophone is indistinct in the red rocks
Final image after additional color adjustment, dodging/burning and cropping.

Processing using Adobe Photoshop

I’ve learned to think of my images in pieces and then put them together for the final. Here’s the Layers panel to give you an idea of ​​the blending that was used to create the final image. I took several shots of the scene at different times in different lighting as the sky progressed through sunset until complete darkness. It turns out that I selected one image and then processed it in two different ways to highlight the stars in one and the middle in another.

The last saxophone is indistinct in the red rocks
The main Photoshop file before cutting and additional final adjustments.
Adobe Photoshop Layers panel
Photoshop layers panel.

Adobe Photoshop layers, masks, adjustment layers and soft light blend mode were used. Once all the pieces were in place, the final crop was used, and additional color work, dodging and burning were used to add the final touches.

Camera and auxiliary gear

An Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark III with a 12-100mm f/4.0 17mm lens was used to capture the images that are combined into this final image. Godox AD 200 flash with remote trigger.

Flash Platpod Gear Godox
This setup allowed me to get some height with my AD 200 flash without having to drag an extra tripod. Platypod eXtreme, strap, tap and adjustable attachment.
Platypod equipment supports LED light
eXtreme powered LED light, handle and gooseneck.

A lot of tools are needed to put this image together. I didn’t want to carry more than one tripod as there was a trip to the location. My new Platypod Multi Accessories kit came in handy on this shoot. A 36 inch strap, rubber pad, elbow and spigot adapter make it easy to mount the Strobe on a pole without any slippage. The Platypod Arca compatible discs were used to mount my camera to the Platyball and also to adapt the Platypod handle to my goosenecks for the Lumecube Panel Pro light used to light the blurred portion of my subject.

There’s a bundle sale to save 30% on the Platypod website through October 31, 2024.

Yours for creative photography, Bob

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