Working with flash for portrait photography may seem daunting at first, but it can open up your work to many creative techniques and possibilities. Shooting with the rear curtain sync flash mode is a good example. We’ve seen some noteworthy examples over the years, and we’d like to add one more to inspire you to try it out. New Hampshire portrait photographer Michael Winters gives us some ideas for working with the rear curtain sync flash mode in the studio.
This flash mode is particularly useful for adding interesting, creative effects when capturing movement. It’s not limited to dance or events but works great even for nighttime fashion photography shoots. For his studio portraits, Winters had a simple approach: to use the rear curtain sync flash (or the second curtain, as he calls it in his series) to integrate movement into portraiture and produce creative blurs. It’s not the usual approach for portraits or working with flash in the studio, but it’s a technique worth exploring.
Winters’ moody series gives us a variety of possible effects that can be achieved with this technique. There’s the typical motion blur that puts the emphasis on movement and gives either an energetic flow, added drama, or abstract look to the shot. When done with long exposures, it creates a ghostly effect that can be interesting for some conceptual portraits. It would also be interesting to combine these effects with a variety of props, colored lighting, or even light painting to further emphasize the looks created by movements.
All photos by Michael Winters. Used with Creative Commons permission.