I’m not sure if this is the right place to ask but I’ve been unable to figure out what exactly this is. It’s an effect, seemingly unintentional, that makes people and things have orange blurs around them, making them look like their souls are leaving their bodies or something (haha). I say it’s from “old” cameras because the instances I’ve seen them had been captured in the year 2005. My best guess is that this is caused by the people moving around too much and the camera lagging on their previous position, or some other processing error.

I’ve attached some photos of a Flyleaf concert that hopefully demonstrate what I mean.


3 Answers 3


Actually, this is intentionally done and can be duplicated with any camera and flash combo (ish).

To me, the second and third image seem indicative of a technique known as second curtain / rear curtain sync. The first appears to be good ol' flash during a long exposure...(more below)...

In all of the examples, a decently long exposure (for the event) was captured. A tripod or monopod may have been used, or simply hand held with stabilization or a sniper's steadiness. In either case, the shutter speed allowed for the capture of a "ghost" of the singer - a blurred version of her as she was exposed and moved relative to the camera.

The color being orange is a result of the stage lighting, the camera white balance, or both. In all of the images, the flash went off - suggesting that the camera (if digital) set it's white balance to match the flash. Thus, any lights that were warmer than the flash got a bump of warmth in the image capture.

Regarding the technique...

When a camera exposes a frame, it opens a shutter either horizontally or vertically and then closes it. While open, it deploys the flash. The first image appears to use this method because of the overlap between sharp image and ghost. In the timeline, the ghost would have been recorded, the flash would have popped and then recorded a sharp image, and then more ghost may have been recorded. Pending shutter speed and subject movement, this may not be quite true - but that's what it looks like to me.

In images two and three, it appears as if there is movement ending in a sharp object - which would be indicative of the technique known as second curtain sync or rear curtain sync. This technique is similar to the above except that the flash is set to fire right before the shutter closes - locking in a solid object. Typical examples look like this Thanks Eric Duminil!. Images two and three could still have been captured using a regular flash lighting during a long exposure (and maybe they stayed still from flash point on) - but it's possible the shot was taken either way.

The first technique you is called dragging the shutter while the second is flash on second curtain sync or rear curtain sync.

To summarize: results like this can be captured by dragging the shutter and firing a flash and/or by using rear-curtain sync. The difference is in when the flash fires - causing a difference in the "ghosting" that is recorded.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For this specific case it des not need to be even rear sync :o) \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 2:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess the colour of the blur is caused by the colour of the lighting in the club being different from the colour of the flash. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 4:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Hueco its a good answer now! Image 2 and 3 could also be front curtain. There's no time info anymore and we dont know when she stops or when she starts moving. Anyway, the answer is much clearer now. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 21:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EricDuminil Thanks! Yea, it's tough, I think, because the singer isn't a motorcycle - she has multiple planes of movement. She could have gone back and forward along a plane before the rear-curtain sync flash fired. How would that image look compared to a back and forward movement using a regular sync? I haven't tested it myself so...am genuinely curious now. Maybe I'll bust out a test tonight... \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 21:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @EricDuminil not related: your profile image appears to be a long boarder mid olie/flip...how the hell did the subject jump a longboard? That's impressive! (I have a 4 foot board and can only manage to get it ~16" off the ground [when trying really, really hard]) \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 21:46

The blur is caused by the shutter being open for much longer than the duration of your flash.

The orange color of the blur is due to the ambient lighting being much warmer in color than the light from your flash. Since the camera has almost certainly set white balance automatically to match your flash, the much dimmer and warmer ambient light has a very orange tint to it.

For more about images taken in dim lighting with long shutter times using flashes with much shorter duration, please see:


This answer is repetitive, but trying to make a point about not using rear sync curtain and make a 1,2,3 step guide.

  1. You use a flash, and leave the shutter open for a while more.

  2. You can use manual mode, adjust the aperture to the flash, and leave the shutter speed fixed at a slow value, you can experiment leaving it open for 1/2 second for example.

The flash will take the photo, the portrait of the girl, and the slow speed the effect.

  1. The red tint is the relative color of the ambient light. In this case, the red can be simply some incandescent bulb.

My argument to why is not a good idea to focus on the rear sync, as Hueco's answer says, is that you leave the flash, the "photo itself" to chance.

If you do not use the rear sync flash, as most cameras do, you will take the photo when you need, and then leave to chance the effect.


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