So it’s nearly Valentine’s Day and I’ve been shooting a few stock images in my studio with only my camera for company. Really I should have shot these a few months ago, but lesson learnt.

I have this set of card props on sticks that I picked up in Flying Tiger in Bournemouth last year and I thought I could play with them for Valentine’s Day images.

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However, I’ve been doing some technical work lately to make sure I can get the best out of my pop up camera flash, and so I thought I’d experiment with some movement.

In this set of images I’ve set my flash to go off not at the start of the exposure, but just before the end. The exposure time was 1 second so I could get traces of movement and then the flash fires just before the second curtain of the shutter closes. A tip is to focus the camera first and then switch to manual focus so that the camera doesn’t keep hunting around for focus each time you take a photo as that’s really frustrating.

You can see the effect of using the flash like this on the second of these three movement images; if the flash were to go off at the beginning of the shot then it’s the first position where the heart started that would be clear and it would end in a blur of movement. This way round, it ends with the blur at the beginning and the sharp image at the end.

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I set the exposure to try and keep the background paper black; it didn’t quite work as the exposure time was so long and I had to do some darkening in Photos. I will do this properly in Photoshop later. Overall I quite like this effect. The images need some post-production in Photoshop to remove things like the white marks visible on the red paper heart, but I like the feel of them and I’ll probably try a few more like this.

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This is a still version produced in Enlight, an iPhone app. The background is an image I shot last week and the hearts have been edited with a graffiti filter. I’m not sure I like it, but I often play with things like this to see what works and what, ahem, doesn’t.