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The photographer said it was done by using the built in flash, that's it and he never explained the process. Does anyone know how it was done?


  • \$\begingroup\$ Doubtful whether this is the method, so just a comment: droplet photography often uses a longer shutter time but a speedlight to freeze the droplet. I'm thinking it could be possible that the shutter speed was longer but the camera's flash froze the person. However, light sources in the background would have still moved and imprinted in the medium the whole time the shutter was open \$\endgroup\$
    – timvrhn
    Jun 18, 2019 at 12:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Long exposure plus short flash for the subject, but the only explanation I have for the vertical things that reach the guy's forehead is that this was shot though a glass pane (and these are reflections). \$\endgroup\$
    – xenoid
    Jun 18, 2019 at 12:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ As all the streaks form almost exactly the same pattern, the 'vertical stripes' are probably actually vertical light strips. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 18, 2019 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi PaulRamos, Welcome to Photography.StackExchange. We hope you enjoy sharing experience and knowledge. It looks as if you got the attention of a few here all around the same time. Good luck. \$\endgroup\$
    – Stan
    Jun 18, 2019 at 13:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ If the subject was behind glass and the "scribble" effect is caused by lights behind the camera being reflected off the glass, where is even the slightest hint of a reflection of the flash off the glass? This is almost certainly a double (or even triple or quad) exposure. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jun 19, 2019 at 0:24

2 Answers 2


The subject is in complete darkness, so a long exposure (1 or 2 seconds) combined with a bit of camera wobble makes the lights in the picture leave trails like that but you don't get a blurry subject.

Combine that with a camera flash (1/1000s maybe?) which illuminates the subject and there you have it. (the flash also dimly illuminates the objects in the bottom-right of the picture).

Edit - the flash will either fire at the start or at the end of the exposure, controlled by the first/second curtain sync setting. I don't think it would matter too much for this exposure, but for an effect like car light trails appearing to streak away BEHIND the car (Car light trails, Google images), you'd use second curtain. so with the shutter open for a second or two you capture the light trails, and then the flash fires as the shutter close (2nd curtain) to illuminate the car, frozen in the frame with the light trails behind it.

Default for curtain sync is usually first, which would illuminate the car as the shutter opens and THEN capture the light trails, which would then appear to streak AHEAD of the car.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. Could also be done in PS by overlaying, but you implied that it was in-camera. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mattman944
    Jun 18, 2019 at 13:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes - for this effect which is easily achieved in-camera, PS isn't required ('easily' if you;re happy with using full-manual mode and flash).. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve Ives
    Jun 18, 2019 at 13:10

Since all the "jiggles" have the same shape, I'd say that it was done with a double exposure.

One with a flash to (slightly under) expose the subject.

Another exposure was made on some lights with an extended exposure time while the camera was moved.

The two can be made in any order.

Some people do this on purpose with some effort and planning to position the image elements for effect.

It used to be done in error by older roll film cameras that did not require the shutter to be cocked before firing; and, the film was not manually turned to the next unexposed position on a roll of film automatically.


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