Photographing Dancers with Long Exposures and Second Curtain Flash

Dancer with second curtain flash

Dramatizing movement is one of the coolest things that you can do in a photograph that otherwise captures it all in a single frame. While many photographers love to do this with long exposures, adding a strobe element via second curtain flash can create even more drama. When you add second curtain flash, what the camera does is freeze a specific moment in the image while dramatizing the movement of the rest of it. It’s a lot of fun–and we do it occasionally in our reviews.

Photographer Phillip McCordall created a tutorial video last month showing us a very proper and fairly old school way ot creating a photo like this in a studio setting with a dancer. He combined second curtain flash usage with a slower shutter speed and just the right aperture and ISO mixture to create the images that you’ll see in the video below.

Want to try this for yourself? We recommend grabbing a dancer or a ballerina. But this can be done with a lot more than just them. I’ve done this with fire dancers and athletes before. You’ll just need to think in terms of a long exposure for the most part.

Mr. McCordall’s video on photographing dancers with long exposures and second curtain flash is after the jump.