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How to Shoot With 2nd Curtain Sync Flash

I was inspired by an article on FStoppers titled “Shooting With Mixed Studio Lighting” and decided to have a go at it, by shooting with 2nd curtain sync flash.

Jane was nice enough to volunteer as the model for my test shoot. I know more or less how the theory works, but putting it into action takes a bit of mucking around with the light settings. What I did was to just manually adjust the settings on my lights – I had 2 strobes fitted with color gels, aimed at Jane from behind her (left and right). My main light is fitted with a large reflector head instead of a beauty dish, with the modelling lamp turned off. The ambient light in the studio was blocked off by curtains so that the only light that helped me to focus on Jane was the light coming from the make-up table which is about 10 feet away.

This test is slightly different from the one on FStoppers, mainly because the strobes with the red and blue gels were set to go off as well instead of just providing continous light. I’ll most likely try out the same technique used on FStoppers, but I pleasantly happy with this result as well. What do you think?

Tip: I set the flash settings on my Canon 5D mkII to 2nd curtain sync, and had my Yongnuo flash set to manual at 1/128, with the head tilt up to the ceiling. This will help pop all 3 strobes after I “dragged” the camera for a 1/4 second exposure or thereabouts. This is how I got the “ghost” image or “double image” as seen above.

Update: I did another round of test shoot over last weekend, this time with emcee/model Evie Wong, using 2nd curtain sync again.

I’m slowly getting into the hang of it, but I think I should make notes and take pictures of the setup so that I can replicate the effects easily for future shoots. This shoot and the previous one with Jane was done mostly with settings on-the-fly. Also something else for me to consider – start using colored backdrops instead so that I can have more distance between the model and the background, eliminating shadows that fall onto the wall/backdrop. Any tips for me to try out?

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