This past weekend, I was in Minnesota for the wedding of my best friend, Brandon, to his lovely wife, Dana. I was in attendance as the best man and had a few things to manage throughout the day and a speech to give after dinner, but I also toted my Fuji X-T1 along with for the evening. The day was becoming evening and the drinks were beginning to flow for the guests and bridal party. The lights were lowering and the dance floor was beginning to clear for the first dance for the bride and groom and then the mother/son and father/daughter dance.
After all these more formal dances, the floor began to fill as the drinks kept flowing. I grabbed the Fuji X-T1 off the table and started to play with the dials and made some pictures on the dance floor. I was working to create images that offered the feel of the dance floor, but had some sharp portions within the frame. This is done through the technique of pop flash or pop strobe.
In this technique, I was bringing the ambient (existing light) down a couple stops and letting my strobe, which was just sitting on top of my hot shoe, be the key. I brought my shutter speed down to 1/2 second to 1/15 of a second. The slower the shutter speed, the more existing light that will flood the frame. I generally like the 1/8 or 1/15 for this technique. I also set the exposure compensation down 1 stop, which is just a dial on the camera.
The below image demonstrates the technique, but the halation (the blurring of light around a bright area) is a bit much for me and we lose a bit of sharpness. This image was shot at 1/2 second for shutter speed, f/2.8 & ISO 400.
However, the image shoes the crowd, the lights from the DJ, and the expression on the face of Madison and Carolyn. This image gets at the feeling of the evening and that moment.
You can also use the pop strobe technique to create a bit more interesting portraits. Utilizing the flash as the key light in the setting and underexposing the scene, it cleans up the background and lets Raashid pop out. This portrait of Raashid was shot at 1/8 of a second, f/5.8 & ISO 200.
This technique, like all, has a time and place to be utilized. Think of high energy situations (dances, concerts, boxing matches, etc) or times when people are beginning to lose focus. These moments can be captured through the camera with the same feel that the person was experiencing at that moment. By doing this, a photographer can demonstrate the many different perspectives of a person and create a feeling in the frame.