Strobes + Timelapse….. Why not?

Go ask a photographer what is the best way to hold a sky in a landscape shot.  You will probably get some different answers but mostly you will hear things like use a grad ND filter, HDR, or layer in post.  You will probably not very often hear someone say oh it’s easy just take a powerful studio strobe everywhere you go.  For starters this method would not ever work on a wide landscape shot and it’s also a giant pain in the a*#.  For starters you have to carry  a bunch of stuff and you have to figure out how to power the strobe or strobes.  It does however often great rewards if you are willing to put up with all the inconveniences.  I put this method through some tests yesterday and thought if I’m gonna run a test I might as well run multiple tests at the same time.  I knew this method would work for holding a sky but I was really curios as to if it would work in a timelapse.  I was worried about the strobe being able to consistently output the same exact amount of light through the frames as to avoid flicker.  This is probably different between all strobes.  I was using an Einstein which is touted as one of the most constant strobes in the industry due to it’s internal digital electronics which I don’t even pretend to understand.  Not only is it’s power output very consistent but it’s color temperature as well.  Color shifts would be as noticeable as power shifts so this was also important.  Then I decided to really test this method and shoot dead into the sun.  I figured if we are going to test something lets push the idea to the limit and see if it breaks.  Amazingly enough I found some success.  Not complete but a good start to refining this technique.  The one sole strobe was enough power to beat back the sky exposure which suprised me.  Two strobes would have been better to add light from more than one direction.  The sun was my rimlight so two strobes for a key and fill would have been perfect.  I did get a couple dark frames in the sequence where the strobe must have not been recharged enough to fire but they are easily removed.  All in all it was a partially successful test technically and a full success in that I got to spend a beautiful evening with Jake, Kimber, and Scott.  It’s always nice to have extra hands even if they are very small 🙂  I hope everyone has a fun and safe new year!

Matt W.

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