Action Flash Photography With a Strobe Attached to a Drone

Drones have grown into a standard item to own not only for videographers, but also for many photographers. Most have used them to capture images from the sky or places hardly accessible otherwise. A few have played around with these small machines to light their subject in a unique way, just like our very own Patrick Hall did when lighting a lighthouse with a DJI Phantom and a Nikon strobe. Photographer David Robinson took this to the next level and strapped an Elinchrom ELB 400 to an octocopter.

I’m sure many sports photographers have dreamed about placing the flash somewhere it would give the light a meaning for every shot they would take using a strobe. It may seem like a very basic concept for portrait and studio photographers, but most of the time when photographing snowboarders, skiers, bikers, and other extreme sports athletes, it’s quite difficult to achieve this. How could you place your strobe higher than someone jumping the height of a small building? The same issue appears when shooting in burst: how could you have the very same light on each frame as you subject is moving so fast and so unpredictably?

It seems like Robinson has found a solution to both problems with an industry first: carrying a studio flash with a drone. The strobe can be flown just where it needs to be so the light is finally motivated, creating a final image that looks more realistic. Even better, the lighting setup can be changed easily between shots – no need to lug around a heavy-duty light stand and sand bags after each image.

Having started in snowboarding photography, I must admit that it sounds like a game-changer! It's opening a whole new world of possibilities for sports photography in general, and I am sure this will become the next new trend if not the new standard! From multiple light setups to strobes that follow the subject, we probably will see some fascinating shots in the next few months.

Red Bull athlete Matt Jones frozen in action – © David Robinson

What do you guys think about this? Would you like to try it? Do you think it will become the new trend or perhaps even the new standard for extreme sports photography? Be sure to read David Robinson’s perspective on the matter and learn more about the shoot by visiting Elinchrom’s blog. Don’t forget to follow this brilliant photographer on Facebook if you want to see what he is going to come up with next!

[via Elinchrom]


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Rory Gallagher's picture

That's a pricey light stand....

Nasri Saade's picture

i had the same idea but with a flash not a strobe but unfortunatly for me none of my brothers or friends can fly my drone....

Tim R's picture

Added to my christmas list.

Chris Johnson's picture

I don't think you will be seeing this at contests, it would be quite dangerous to have that drone flying around with so many different riders doing different tricks over the jumps. But I could see it being used in closed settings like this for sure, Can't wait to see what they can do with this idea. Some long lens surf shots with the drone lighting the surfer would look unreal.

Nicolas Restrepo's picture

Krystle Wright did this a while back and actually got beautiful , stunning results. check out the youtube video of it to see how this can be done right.

Tony Reitz's picture

Check out this article from 2014 about lighting a lighthouse with a drone

Quentin Decaillet's picture

Thanks, but the link was already right at the beginning of this article ;)

Tony Reitz's picture

It was one of those long weekends...reading articles like this make me want a drone even more.