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High Speed Strobe Portraits

So, yeah -- it's WAY beyond the third week in January, and I'm starting off with a really confusing title. You can thank a stomach flu from last week and a slightly complicated photographic concept for that. So what the hell, exactly, is a high speed strobe portrait? It's not really quite as exciting as it sounds, at least in this context; to explain it, I need to get a little technical. Bear with me. 

Regular digital SLR cameras (like this one) have a shutter which closes vertically. These have been the bog-standard camera shutters for ages and ages. They're actually quite complicated, as this video shows. However, they're good for most anything you throw at them. That is, unless you're using a flash with the camera, and you're shooting a picture at anything faster than roughly 1/250ths of a second (this varies a bit). Why? Due to the vertically-closing shutter, the whole image won't get lit by your flash going off. This results in, well, something like this.

Here is where my trusty Fujifilm x100s shows up to the party, yet again, with a smug grin on its face. It - along with a growing number of cameras on the market - utilizes a leaf shutter. It looks like the blades of an aperture ring, except they open and close. Like this

Still with me? The benefit -- in the context of this blog post -- is that the camera can successfully capture light from a flash at very quick shutter speeds. Therefore, you can nicely balance (even underexpose) daylight beyond your subject, and light them with a bare off-camera flash. So that's what I did for week 3! My friend Scott was once again a willing participant and helped out along the way. 

I'm not a people photographer, and it shows. Still, this was a neat experiment, and a nice trick to be aware of, should the need arise. 

I'm behind by a week, but I'll be closing the gap. Soon, hopefully, provided I chew some vitamin C and stay healthy.