How I Shot This Using Rear Curtain Sync and Mixing Strobe With LED Continuous Light

How I Shot This Using Rear Curtain Sync and Mixing Strobe With LED Continuous Light

As a photographer, I am not someone with extensive experience in using artificial continuous light. What better way to push yourself forward than to find something you aren’t familiar with and dive in head first? Self-growth for the win!

When I got the opportunity to try out some LED lights, I figured why not. Nobody learns without some experimenting and probably making plenty of mistakes along the way, but that's totally okay. The pursuit of perfection is a tough one. Experiment, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and keep going. 

For these images, I knew I was going to use a slow shutter speed with the combination of movement to show the effects from the continuous light. I also had to change the flash sync mode to rear curtain sync. For those who might not be comfortable with those couple sentences of photographer lingo, what this means is that the flash is only triggered towards the end of the shutter duration, freezing the subject at the end of the motion blur trail. Did I just use more photographer lingo to explain other photographer lingo? Maybe, but you get the point!

After some test shots, I settled on a range between 1/4 s and 0.5 s for my shutter speed. Any faster, and the light trails were too minimal, while any longer caused the trails to be distracting and all over the place. In these images, I also moved my camera after each shot instead of getting the model to move. I’m very kind like that to the models I work with! In all seriousness, though, I found the results more pleasing this way. Even then, though, I still had to also experiment a little to find the kind of movements that produced the nicest light trails. With these images, I found that the results can be a little hit and miss since there are a few variables working together. However, I was quite happy with what I was able to achieve.

The LED light I used was a flexible Soonwell light mat that allowed me to dial between warm light and cool light, which made it very convenient to test out both results. For this shoot, I personally prefer the results with the warm light, I felt it brought more colors and mood to the images.

Equipment List

Lighting Setup

For the main light, I used a Profoto D2 with the medium silver umbrella. I really enjoy using the silver umbrella, as I find the light to give a nice pop while being quite flattering. The Soonwell LED light was placed at the back to provide side light, which was used for the light trials. I used a velvet black backdrop, as I wanted a totally black backdrop and the velvet material is the only one I’ve found to stay black, even when lit.


Photographer: Shavonne Wong

Model: Cindy Chen (Mannequin)

Makeup: Christian Maranion

Stylist: Fiona Bennett

Shavonne Wong's picture

Shavonne Wong is an award-winning fashion/ celebrity/ advertising photographer based in Singapore.

She has worked with Vogue Global Network, Glamour South Africa, Female Malaysia, Cosmopolitan HK, Lancôme, Sephora and is a returning guest photographer for Asia's Next Top Model. She is also an X-Photographer for Fujifilm.

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Lovely results :)
I usually dial in the edge/side lights first, by switching off the main light.
Otherwise I find it hard to pinpoint where light "pollution" comes from in setups like these.

How fast / slow were the model's motions? And did you have to experiment with her movement to get the right feel? Very nice.