Combining strobes and continuous light for stunning sports portraits

You know how photographers are always asking for more light? Well, Photographer Bee Trofort shows us that sometimes a little can go a long way. Actually, something that shines just the right amount is a must to create some stunning portraits with Strobes and light painting.

Bee uses a combination of strobes and KYU-6 RGB wrap lights to get two exposures in one go. The first is the “regular” strobe exposure, a standard three-point setup with a key and rim light. The strobes control this exposure by popping them in a dark room. A “second” exposure is the long exposure that leaves the shutter open for a longer duration, capturing the light painting from the KYU-6 RGB lights.

This is simpler than it sounds. Here is a three-step recipe to mix and match strobes and LED lights.

1. Set up a light painting studio

OK, did I say studio? I meant a dark room. This can be your living room, a basement, or it can actually be your photography studio if you have one. In that dark space, place a tripod and a camera. Of course, while you are setting up, the room does not have to be dark, DUH, but keep that light switch close by. You need to use a tripod because you will be combining two exposures, and you don’t want the camera to move between the two frames.

2. Set your strobe time to freeze and your shutter speed to light paint

This may sound complicated, but in reality, all it means is that you need to place your strobes to compose a shot and (if you can) set your camera to rear-curtain sync. That strobe will freeze the action and give you a sharp, clear image of your model.

Now, set the shutter to anything between three and ten seconds. You will have this long to play with the LEDs until the strobes pop, and your subject is frozen. Feel free to experiment with the exposure duration.

In terms of aperture, there are no set rules for light painting. Remember, you can control the light brightness in two ways: by changing the aperture or by changing the brightness of the KYU-6 lights. Depending on your tests, feel free to change either.

3. Shoot away

Once you are ready, turn the room lights off, click the shutter, and have your subject more for a few seconds until the strobes go and freeze the action.


Yea, this is not a step; just the time for you to lean back and enjoy your work. In the meantime, here are some of the portraits from Bee.

Light Painting portraits

Here is a selection of Light Painting from Bee. Now it’s your turn!

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