I came across the following photo today:

enter image description here

It's taken by Yoon Sul, a professional photographer. I marveled at the effect of the photo, but couldn't wrap my mind around how to take a photo quite like that. How would it be done, making the guy stand out? Or is this all a little photoshop magic?

  • \$\begingroup\$ My opinion, this is photoshop magic. Looks fake a little, but can be usable if you like it. I don't so much. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dudeist
    Commented May 28, 2012 at 13:30

2 Answers 2


The effect is due to combining flash and ambient light on a moving subject. The flash illuminates the subject which then moves. The subject blocks the ambient light creating a silhouette, and then moves before the flash fires so that the image lit by the flash is offset with the silhouette, giving the hard cartoon outline effect. No photoshop required for this one!

In this case first curtain sync was used, meaning the flash fired before the ambient exposure, which is why the black outline occurs "ahead" of the subject. If second curtain sync was used the shadow would appear to behind the subject in a more "chronological" order.


There's no particular post-processing going on here (other than some dodgy Instagram-style toning), he's just used an off-camera flash to 'freeze' the subject in mid-air. Looking at the full image on his website, which shows the shadows, it appears to be to the left of the camera and slightly above.


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