How to Introduce Motion into Flash Photography

Joe McNally is widely regarded as an expert photographer. So when he offers to share some of his knowledge you may want to tune in and listen. In the video clip below, he discusses and dissects the lighting setup he used to create an open and airy portrait. He also explains how he was able to capture movement in the model’s hair while using speedlights. Take a look:

The main light source in this portrait, the one creating the big, soft light, is the wall that is directly behind the photographer. By setting up two v-shaped cards on both sides of the camera and firing a speedlight into them, the light is reflected off the cards onto the wall where it is bounced a second time, this time on the model. Here’s the basic setup:


Because the bounced light is soft and not overpowering, McNally was able to set a fan up to the left of the camera to slightly blow the model’s hair and shoot on a slow enough shutter speed (1/120 second) to still be able to capture the movement without overexposing the portrait.

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One response to “How to Introduce Motion into Flash Photography”

  1. chris dowd says:

    Thanks for another great video Joe. Love the concept and outcome from separation of 2 different light sources – an ‘instantaneous’ burst of flash falling on her face and the continuous light to capture her flowing hair over the 1/20sec. Guess it’s important to keep the ambient light off her face. Is the black background just fall off?

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