Stroboscopic Wheelies Under the Stars

Written by Catherine Aeppel

I’ve wanted to experiment with the stroboscopic capabilities of broncolor’s strobes for a while, and my night shoot this summer with Red Bull athlete Aaron Colton was the perfect opportunity to get creative and play with this amazing feature.

For this shot, I set up a single broncolor Move 1200 pack with a MobiLED head and P65 reflector directly to my right. This was feathered up to minimize spill onto the ground while still spreading the light broadly enough to capture Aaron as he sped through the scene. My camera was on a tripod and an assistant swiveled the strobe head to follow Aaron as he rode across the dry lakebed. My goal was to give a sense of both the immense skill of the athlete while also showcasing his progression from two wheels on the ground up to the full wheelie. We had to experiment a bit with speed – if Aaron rode too slow, the captures of him were stacked on top of each other – but if he rode too quickly, they were too far apart. I think in this frame we finally found the perfect balance where it flows, is engaging, and accurately showcases his immense skill.

In order to execute this shot we placed two little glow sticks outside of the frame on each side so we could create lanes for him to see in the pitch dark. He was not using a headlamp or light on his bike as that would leave a light trail, and we were aiming to capture a crisper, cleaner looking shot. Once we had the lane determined and timing set, I prefocused my camera and let the magic happen.

Disclaimer: Aaron is a professional stunt motorcyclist and was extremely comfortable performing these tricks in the dark. Always listen to and understand the comfort level of your athlete prior to performing any stunt.

Catherine is an adventure photographer and filmmaker based in Colorado. From the beaches of Israel to the slot canyons of Utah, from remote islands in the Pacific to as far as Western Australia, Catherine’s explorations through the lens have taken her around the world. She thrives with a camera in hand — and lives the adventures she captures. When she’s not shooting, she’s playing in mountains, deserts and oceans far away from crowded cities and civilization.You can check out more of her work at and on instagram @CatherineAeppel.