Stop Time

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Freeze time with fast flash duration Freeze time with fast flash duration

Lights, camera, water, action! Learn the secrets of using a fast and powerful strobe to freeze water droplets in midair. (Winter jacket not required.)

What do you need? To get those shots that freeze time with details sharp enough to capture water droplets in mid-flight, a regular speedlight won’t cut it. You need a strobe with a lot more horsepower, like Impact’s Astral Extreme AS-X-400 Monolight which has a flash duration as short as 1/5,000 of a second. Why is a short flash duration important? The way a strobe light modulates its intensity is by shortening or lengthening the time it stays illuminated. So for the kind of shot we’re trying achieve, we need a flash capable of firing for an extremely short period of time while still giving off sufficient light.

Impact Astral Monolights in action Impact Astral Monolights in action

Setting up For a shot like this—a GoPro® dropping into an aquarium—you need a controlled environment. First turn off all of your ambient light, as only your strobe should be lighting the subject. To adjust the flash duration, a good place to start is at half power—fast but still bright enough. For this particular shot, we wanted a high aperture at f/16 (ISO 100) to keep every part of the image in focus, so we ended up using two monolights at half power to up the available light. But your mileage may vary.

Then what? From here, it was all trial and error. To capture the exact instant that the GoPro hit the water, we actually ended up dropping it into the tank 20 times or more. But once you get it right, you get the kind of result that you see here: tack-sharp and exciting, with every drop of water perfectly frozen in place.

Learn more about the Astral Extreme AS-X-400 Monolight on the product page.