Creating Motion Stopping Photos of Aikido Competitors

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All photos by Einar Otto Stangvik. Used with permission.

“When shooting motion, which martial arts tend to bring, I figure you can go one of two ways: Show the motion as a blur, or freeze it entirely – stopping bodies in weirdly wonderful positions. Anything in-between, half frozen / half moving, tends to look sloppy. That’s my opinion, though, and others may disagree.” says photographer Einar Stangvik about his vision for a recent shoot he did featuring Aikido practitioners. His work has been featured here before as we have showcased his liquid vortex imagery.

He describes it as beautiful, fluid motion that is fast paced and tough to capture. And his setup was quite intensive. It included:

  • One 420 watt/sec Elinchrom ELB-400, with a 150cm indirect octa as key light. Full power.
  • Two Nikon Speedlight SB-910 with a white reflective umbrella as fill light. 1/8th power.
  • One SB-910 with a diffusor hat for the background. 1/16th power.

Why this much light? Stopping fast motion partially has to do with a fast flash duration. What this means is that even if you set your camera to a two second shutter speed but fire the flash once and that flash has a fast duration, then it will freeze to speedy motion. It’s part of the idea behind the TriggerTrap flash adapter.

Einar states that timing the exposures was really simple to do despite the fast moving actiong happening so quickly. More of the images are after the jump.

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