Shooting Challenge: It's Stroboscopic

Most photos are of one image of one subject in one spot. But what if, in a single exposure, in a single frame, you could capture more than one image? Well you can through stroboscopic photography (aka repeating flash).

The Challenge

Take a photo with a repeating flash. In other words, take a single exposure during which a flash fires several times. If you're in a dark enough room with a dark enough backdrop, your subject will almost appear in isolated copies, as if many photos were merged into one.


And thanks to reader Jesus Zendejas who tipped me to this!

The Technique

So, there's a catch. The idea is simple, get a flash to fire several times during an exposure. But from my research, it doesn't look like this is doable without a standalone flash (speedlight add-on). My T2i blocks out advanced flash functions entirely when using just my built-in.


However, there's no reason a hack couldn't work for this - so long as you can find a light that strobes fast enough (1/1000 to 1/2000 of a second recommended). Do traditional strobe lights do that? Engineers in the audience, any thoughts?

In terms of tutorials:
The Rochester Institute of Technology published a great piece that will walk you through the ins and outs of the relatively simple idea. Also, Nikon has a beautifully produced tutorial/commercial that's an enjoyable watch if you have 13 minutes.


The Example

Our incredible lead photo is the work of Joe McNally. If you want to hear him talk about it, check out that Nikon link we pasted a few lines above.


The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced.
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, March 21st at 8AM Eastern to with "Repeating Flash" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameRepeating.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameRepeatingWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

Mark Wilson is the founder of photography blog Life, Panoramic as well as Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.


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