High Speed Flash Photography at Night – Tricking with the X-Pro1

Warrick, martial arts tricking, X-Pro1

I organised a shoot with Warrick, displaying some of his paintings for an upcoming exhibition of his when I discovered that in addition to being a talented artist, Warrick is also capable of some remarkable feats of acrobatics. This was to be my introduction to the spectacular world of martial arts tricking (check it out on YouTube if you’re interested in seeing something incredible). I decided to use this as an opportunity to test the motion stopping capabilities of flash and hopefully take away some amazing gravity defying shots and see how the X-Pro1 performed with this style of photography. This is probably one of the most enjoyable shoots I have ever done, as it really challenged my ability. The speed that Warrick moved at and the near complete darkness made focusing very difficult. Seeing the results at the end of the day however made it all worthwhile.

But first, the theory:

Nikon SB-900 Flash Duration

1/880 – 1/1
1/1100 – 1/2
1/2550 – 1/4
1/5000 – 1/8
1/10000 – 1/16
1/20000 – 1/32
1/35700 – 1/64
1/38500 – 1/128

This is a note I keep in my iPhone for reference, a quick table to determine flash duration at a given power. Flash power is actually a rating of how long the flash illuminates for, rather than a measure of how bright it is. Therefore when ambient light is low enough, flash duration can effectively become your shutter speed. A table like the one above should be available for most flashes and studio strobes in the product documentation or website.

Warrick, martial arts tricking, X-Pro1

These photos were taken at an equivalent of 1/5000 shutter speed, using a flash power of 1/8, freezing motion in almost complete darkness. We found a spot on a very quiet road with some light provided by a nearby street lamp, more so for safety reasons rather than exposure. Shutter speed was set to 1/125 and aperture f/4.



  1. Reblogged this on Warrick Wong Design and commented:
    My mate Adrian and I partnered up to create something we haven’t done before! I performed the tricks while Adrian took the shots and here’s what we ended up with 😉 Visit him @ BinaryFrame and check out his awesome portraits!

  2. I have just tried similar topic, with much less of professionalism 🙂

  3. […] Wong, one of my resident “talented at lots of things” friends (seen here in full gravity defying flight), had me around to photograph some of his artworks which were to be […]

  4. Well another try 🙂 a little bit more… still yours look much better 🙂

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