Pro technique: “The Runner” through rear curtain flash sync

Pro technique: “The Runner” through rear curtain flash sync

This was an interesting photo assignment I came up with for Platypod at the behest of inventor Dr. T. The concept was to show movement in the scene. Once the streaks were made there’s a freeze of the subject using rear curtain sync flash. Check out another photoshoot with rear curtain sync. Fun times!

FYI, I am a Platypod pro and was assigned to photograph this image.

Multiple photos

I made one image for the streaks of the jogger moving through the scene. The exposure time of that shot was about three seconds with the flash going off following the run. I tapped Sedona personal trainer, Kim Hollenback of Solid Rock Fitness. She ran through the scene multiple times until we felt good streaks were recorded. See the final image for the result.

Background image for stars. ISO 6400 10 sec f/4. All photos were made at 12mm.
sedona red rock image
Middle ground image ISO 200 4 sec f/11.

The other two images were for the middle ground and another capture for the starry skies in the background.


I used Adobe Photoshop with Layer Masks to blend all images together. Also, I used a technique borrowed from Milky Way nightscape photography called Blending. A blend is a combination of multiple images from the same tripod position. This exposes different areas of the image at different times. Another key point is this differs from a composite because composite images come from different places and times, which is not necessarily a realistic scene.

1697552412 900 Pro technique The Runner through rear curtain flash sync | Theedgesm
Layer palette. Note the multiple layers of the runner in Screen Mode controlled with masks.

The light streak image was amplified by duplicating the layer and changing the Blend Mode of that layer to Screen. Screen Mode makes the bright portions of the image to become brighter. A mask and opacity allowed me to dial in exactly the brightness level I wanted.


To attain the streaks, night needs to have fallen. At least, for the amount of light I was able to bring on the scene. I used an LED light panel from Litra Cube along with two Litra Torch Cubes. Then, I deployed the using a Platypod eXtreme mounted on a signpost using the 36 inch strap. I added a Platypod Handle and attached two gooseneck using the 1/4 inch receptors built into the eXtreme.

fotopro tripod with platypod gear
Camera mounted with a Platypod Arca Swiss disc on an Ergo Platyball. It was attached to the eXtreme to add an arm to hold my Pluto Trigger. The hot shoe was occupied with the remote trigger for the flash. FYI, I often add the eXtreme in between the camera setup and the tripod so I can quickly remove it. I can then execute a very low angle without the tripod but with full camera support.
Platypod gear supporting led lighting
Litra Torch lights are supported with a Platypod eXtreme. Handle and goosenecks are attached to a signpost with the Platypod 36 inch strap.
platypod eXtreme with handle and flash
I used an eXtreme with a Handle to mount the flash off to the camera right off the scene. This leads to a freeze of the subject after running through the light with the rear curtain sync flash.

I mounted an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III with a 12-100mm M. Zukio f/4.0 lens on an Ergo Platyball with a disc. I added an eXtreme between the Ergo and the tripod, and a Platypod Arm to the eXtreme to hold my Pluto Trigger. To make this work, I needed to have the trigger off-camera. The hot shoe was occupied by the remote trigger for the flash. This configuration made it easy to move whatever I hooked up to my camera as one unit to the ground.

Rear curtain sync result

This turned out to be a winner image in that Platypod was happy and Kim my model was as well. She posted a copy in a Facebook post and garnered lots of response. As a matter of fact, she likes the image so much she is going to use it as a large sign for her fitness business.

In addition, I’d like to alert everyone to bundles of Platypod gear on sale until October 31st.

red rock streaking rear curtain sync flash
Final image blend made over a period of about an hour and a quarter.

Undeniably, I love it when a plan comes together!

Yours in Creative Photography,