Still photography in motion with Ryan Enn Hughes

Ryan Enn Hughes is a motion picture director and photographer based in Toronto, and has made a big splash in the photo and video industries when he began shooting what he likes to call “interdisciplinary,” media.  His curiosity of motion arts was spurred from the partnership of both video and photo interests, connecting still photos with quick-motion, and creating something to the likes of stop-motion animation.

His latest creation, “C-Walk,” which features Krump dancer Amadeus Marquez, is a new edition to his ever-growing collection of high-speed photographic-videos: “’C Walk’ features dancer Amadeus Marquez performing in the Crip Walk dance style. This project was shot entirely with sequenced still photographs (Canon EOS 1DIV) and lit with photographic strobe lights (Broncolor Scoro A4S). It is an extension of the process I used to create ‘RGB Move’ ( and ‘Ballet!’ ( Adding to the process, I animated each photograph frame by frame to achieve the final aesthetic of ‘C Walk’.”

Some of Hughes’s other animations have included works with titles: “RGB Move,” “Jolly Jumper,” “Fish,” and “Ballet” that were shot with the help of co-director Arash Moallemi. Marquez was also featured in “RGB Move,” which features a similar style as “C-Walk” that utilizes what Hughes calls “the study of the human body in motion.” Krump dancing provides the basis for “speed and timing” that was indicative of a movie that consists entirely of still photographs. He used broncolor’s Scoro A4S; he wanted to use strobe lighting because it “opened up the possibility to play with lighting in a new way.”

Ryan Enn Hughes Photography

An Interview with broncolor Featured Photograper Chris O’Connell

o How did you become a photographer? Describe your career development?

I have been into shooting photos since I was 12 years old, my dad was really into it on an amateur level and gave me his old Mamiya Sekor and I started shooting my friends skateboarding. I didn’t really think I could make a living at it, so I went to Business School and majored in Computer Information Systems. I moved to Colorado after school and ended up shooting my friends doing cool stuff: Ice Climbing, Rock Climbing, Kayaking, Skiing, Snowboarding, etc. I then got a job with the local newspaper, the Vail Daily, that was my first full time photo job. After that things in the editorial world started rolling and within a year or two, the commercial clients starting coming because they liked my work in the Magazines.

o More specifically, was there one or more life changing moments that helped you move to the next level and become the photographer that you are now? Perhaps a big break, a perfect mentor, a movie, a mystical moment?

I have always worked really hard on the business end of things, delivering on time, providing logistical support and whatever else I can do to make my clients life easier. I think that was how I got my break in editorial work in the early years, was because I took it upon myself to write articles as well, which saved all the magazines money, because they could send one person on a trip instead of two. That led to my first Staff position of Senior Photographer at Snowboarder Magazine in the late 90s.

o How do you learn your techniques?

I am a firm believer in learning by doing, being out in the field and pushing it and learning by trial and error. That cost me a lot of money in film back in the day, but now with digital it doesn’t get any easier. I have taken some workshops over the years to learn more about the processing elements. I recommend D-65 to everyone.

Chris OConnell Shoots the First 1/500th Shutter Wireless Synced Flash Sequence Morph Photo from b film on Vimeo.

o Who are your photo heroes? Or who has inspired your career?

I’ve always been into Sante D’Orazio, I think it was that shot of Stephanie Seymour back in the day. I like Cartier-Bresson, Steven Klein and anyone who shoots action or snowsports. People who inspired my career are the people that listened to me and took time out to give me advice as I was developing, guys like Peter Freed, Jack Affleck, TR Youngstrom and Kevin Zacher.
I like anything with a vagabound type looseness to it, that’s kinda my style, I like a lot of the photography in Vice Magazine.

o What is the worst part about doing what you do?

Avalanches are a huge factor when I am shooting snow, I have had quite few friends lost in accidents and avalanches. It weighs on me a lot when conditions are bad in areas I am in, I spent a month in Interior British Columbia during their worst avalanche cycle ever this year and had a couple close calls, it was a relief to get on the plane home.

The travel can be tough, not necessarily the act of traveling, but the ‘bag wrestling’ as we jokingly refer to it. On any given trip, I have three to four 70lb bags/boxes checked and some seriously heavy carry on. It’s more than one person can handle, so that can be tough, especially if I am traveling without an assistant. I am a location specialist and must pack everything I need, as many locations I go to don’t have the support of a big photo house anywhere near by, so backup gear is a must.

I should also say that the act of packing all that gear really sucks.

o What is the best part?

The Travel. I have seen the so much in the world. I have been to Lebanon, Japan, Indonesia, China, New Zealand, Alaska, Chile, and all over Europe. I am always going somewhere new, whether it’s here in North America or abroad, it’s rare I don’t go to at least a few new countries every year. The people I have met over the years and experiences I have had are priceless.

· Learning from the Pro

o What are we going to shoot today?

The first ever 1/500th Shutter Speed Remote Synced Flash Sequence Morph

o How did you learn how to do what you are about to show us?

I got the idea from my friend Chase Jarvis, he was in New Zealand when I was there shooting this type of sequence, he was running a tethered sync and shooting at 250th. The wheels started turning and I decided that I wanted to try taking that idea to the next level.

o What tools are you using to make this image?

Broncolor Scoro A4S and A2S, Canon Mark IV, Zeiss and Canon Lenses, Pocket Wizard TT5, Honda EU series generators

o Why did you choose these tools?

These were the only tools I could use to do something like this.

o What features of the equipment that you use make it easier to do your job?

The Scoro packs allowed me to monitor my flash duration on the digital readout and they recycle fast enough to shoot a 24 frame sequence at 8fps. The TT5 Wizards allowed me to sync at 1/500th wirelessly with their new hypersync settings which are adjustable by plugging into your laptop.

o Did you use competing products in the past? What made you change?

I have shot Elinchrom and Profoto in the past. The Scoro packs are super adjustable, user friendly and produce great light with banger recycle speeds and solid flash durations.

Broncolor Scoro Enhanced Color Temperature Control (ECTC)


Stuff to Get Started With:

Technical warning:  This post is really technical, but we tried to make it as readable as possible.  And if you can believe it, this is actually the dumbed down version that does not address the issues of how capacitor switching or pre-flash ignition work.

We are regularly asked about broncolor’s ECTC color control technology.  Photographers want to know does it work, how does it work, how to use it and when does it work.  This post provides a quick overview.  We can provide more advanced topics…just ask us!

Note Up Front: One thing we should point out up front is that ECTC is built into the broncolor Scoro packs.  You don’t need to turn it on to make it work.  In fact there is no way to turn it on of off.  The only way to really modify ECTC is to activate the Scoro “speed mode.”   Speed Mode shifts ECTC normal color balance to a slightly cooler flash, yet still consistent from flash to flash,  color while enhancing recycling speed.

The Basics

First let’s start with the basics, in order to understand color temperature control you need to understand how a flash actually ignites.   We don’t want to get too technical, but basically, the flashtube is a hermetically sealed tube that is filled with an ignitable gas.  The electrical connectors on the tube connect to the power source (which is normally a strobe power pack like a broncolor Grafit A4, Scoro A4s or Profoto 7a or 8a, etc).  The gas has a really high threshold or resistance to ignition.  So when the power pack triggers, current flows into the tube, starts to ionize the gas [ Ionize at Wikipedia], more current flows, heats up the gas, which lowers its resistance, which allows more current to flow, which converts the gas to a plasma state, and then BOOM! The full current load from the power pack comes rushing through the tube and a burst of light happens.  But that burst of light, while really short, is actually made up of a constantly changing range of colors starting out really cool and then warming up at the end of the burst of light.

Lifecycle of a flash unit:

  • Power pack charges the capacitors
  • Flash is triggered and flash head ignition begins
  • Capacitors unload their current to the flash tube
  • Gas in flash tube get ionized by the initial current allowing current flow
  • Heated ionized gas converts to plasma and allows the full load from the capacitors to come flowing in.
  • Flash discharges and displays a burst of light.
  • On advanced units: a “cut off” circuit will clip the gas explosion in order to control flash duration but clipping the flash curve also affects the color temperature because you lose the warm end of the curve.

Color Temperature  Throughout the Duration of the Flash

To break it down a little further, when the flash ignites the light that comes out of it is not one color temperature.  The color temperature changes throughout the fraction of a second of the flash.  The color starts out really blue as the flash begins to discharge and then gets really red as the discharge tapers off.  So an advanced flash unit that uses a cut-off circuit to control flash duration must actually pay careful attention to what part of the curve is being clipped or else the light coming out of the flash will be too blue.

On the other hand, with conventional flash units that don’t use a cut off circuit, a color temperature shift in the warmer colors can be noticed when the flash output is reduced. Part of broncolor’s secret is to manage the combination of the cut off with the balance of color throughout power range of the flash unit.

Broncolor ECTC Color Control

For over a decade broncolor has been using its own patented CTC (Color Temperature Control) process.  It was revised and renamed as Enhanced Color Temperature Control (ECTC) for the latest Scoro power pack.  ECTC coordinates flash voltage and flash duration.  The result is consistent color temperature on every flash even at different power levels.  ECTC even works in stroboscopic mode with up to 50 flashes per second; the temperature remains the same for each individual flash!

Flash Curves Without ECTC

The classical flash curve of all flash units has the following characteristics: At the beginning, “cold“ light appears in the ascending slope of the flash curve (comparable with the blue of a rainbow).   With one of these simple flash units, when you lower the power to the head, the color temperature of the light becomes “warmer” (yellowish and reddish) because there is not as much blue from the initial burst at the steep part of the curve.

Note: It should be mentioned that this isn’t the only way to work without ECTC.  Some high end products actually use a small preflash to try and balance out the curve.  The trouble with the preflash is that it can cause ghosting or double images because the light output and flash duration will be dramatically altered creating a situation with two peaks in the curve rather than one spike.


Flash Curves with ECTC

ECTC adjusts the flash curve profile, so that the area under the flash curve or the selected amount of light, respectively, is produced with constant color temperature.  Basically what you can see below is that the top line represents a head on a high power setting and the bottom line represents a head on a lower power setting.   ECTC manages the output of both heads so that the total average output of light is equal in color temperature.  On the top curve minimal cut off is implemented because the flash starts off with so much blue during the initial stages of the burst.  On the lower powered head, less blue was introduced because of the lower power, and thus the cut off circuit can clip the red tail of the flash and provide a perfect 5500k.


Changing the Color temperature

On the Scoro, ECTC  can also be used to deliberately adjust the color temperature of light in intervals of +/- 200 K. This means that you can actually go into the Scoro menu and set the color temperature that you want.  You can use it to match changing ambient light or to compensate for aging yellowing softbox panels.


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