Judo Shooting..with Strobes and a Leica by Jochen Kohl

Judo Shooting..with Strobes and a Leica

by Jochen Kohl

The shooting took place at a Judo Dojo and the main participant was local Ving Tsun Master and a former national league Judoka. The picture showing the kick was done with the Leica Vario.


Lightning setup was a Multiblitz X10 with a 5 ft. Superbrolly Silver Umbrella and a Profilux Plus 400 with a standard reflector, both powered by a Propac on location and triggered via radio trigger on the MM’s hot shoe.


For the Judo pictures I used the Leica Monochrom with the 35mm Summarit placed on a tripod.

Because for this kind you don’t need an autofocus or a high frame rate and the final pictures should be black ‚n white using the MM was a simple move.

It was a small location with white walls reflecting the flashes badly. Simple closes the aperture and used flags to set the light.







So easy it can be.


Jochen Kohl


  1. My favorite image is judo_mm1, where one guy’s foot is hovering just above the mat. What a capture. It is my opinion that these images, more so than most, stand on their own merit, rather than on the brand name of the camera that was used to capture them. Viewing these, I’m challenged to hone my photographic aim, explore new methods, and keep my eyes open.

    • Thanks.

      “I’m challenged to hone my photographic aim, explore new methods, and keep my eyes open.”

      That’s what is all about. At the end the camera is just a tool.

  2. Great light and framing! The first picture is a true work of art!

    I’m surprised at how good these look given the MM’s sync speed (1/180). Were you able to sync any faster than that with usable results? I’ve just started using strobes with my X100. The IQ isn’t close to full frame, but the 1/4000 sync speed opens up some great opportunities!

  3. Very rarely, do we get to see photos with strobes on this website. These pictures are just gorgeous. Just as importantly, I wish you would give us a complete tutorial on how you accomplished this feat. If photography is light, we all need to know how to control light as much as possible. Congrats.

    • Thanks. I’m organizing here in Germany once a month a “flash meeting” where photographers just can come together and just learn to work with flashes and having a drink afterwards.
      I’ll try do make a making of vid next time.

      • Please let us know if you do end up making that video, Jochen. These shots had great drama to them that just would not have been the same without the strobes. As a photographer that is barely learning to use flash, it’s hard to know where to start at times.

      • What a great a simple concept to help photographers conquer flash. I wish I could find “flash meetings” here in NYC. I am with LAbruin. I have watched videos and DVD’s and it is hard to know where to start at times.

  4. Awesome looks like a beautiful dance not a conflict great job thanks for sharing your shots and technique

  5. Nice photos! Would not think it possible to do such photos with a Leica MM… at least definitely not the type of photos generally associated with Leica.. Like it! Something different and well executed.

  6. Not too bad but you can´t see faces on these pictures, so the impressions on the faces while fighting are not there… With this added mood the pictures were perfect for me.
    Nice work on the lightning.
    Best regards,

    • That is one reason why I don’t like Judo so much because it is more like wrestling with tight throws than some other contact sports where there is kept more distance between people like in the first shot.

      First and second are my liking in these and I would like to see more shots where there are either ones faces visible and the bodies are separated little more so there comes contact more visible. But it requires to know moves how they will land and what is other probably going to do next.

    • Agree.
      No HDR look. Just gorgeous tones with bright highlights and deep inky blacks.
      Love it.

      And the composition – ‘violence’ transformed into poetry. Outstanding.

      Best regards

  7. Congratulations, those are incredible…capturing the dynamics and power of the fight but still depicting the flow of movements’ calm and grace – it reminds me of a still life.

Comments are closed.