Master the Art of High Speed Photography

The art of high speed photography has taken a quantum leap over the last few years due to technological improvements on camera equipment. Today, anyone who shares an enthusiasm for “capturing the moment”, has the right equipment and the proper techniques, can make high speed photography a hobby, a part time job or even make a living doing it professionally. As modern digital cameras become more powerful, features keep adding up and you can become a high speed photographer from the comfort of your home by just using a relatively affordable digital camera. The trick lies in knowing the right techniques and tips to get the most out of your digital camera… However, without previous training this could be tedious and frustrating. The purpose of this article is to gather a compilation of ten easy to use high speed photography tutorials (along with a small introduction and some examples) for those who are beginning to explore this subject.

1. My quick guide to Simple High Speed Macro Photography

This is a good beginners guide of how to take high speed photographs with a digital camera with basic techniques. What I like about this tutorial is that tells exactly what you need to get a good shot and it guides you on a step by step basis. To have access to this guide you can go to My quick guide to Simple High Speed Macro Photography This tutorial focuses on water drops falling in slow motion like it’s shown on the picture below:
water drop

It also gives you the right camera setup and technique to aquire these shots:

2. High-speed Photography Basics

Again, as we continue covering the basics, this article is ideal for high speed photography beginners… go to High-speed Photography Basics to see the full article. The main focus of this article is getting the proper camera and light exposure to get the desired shot. On the next image you’ll see the effect of a rock that splashes in the water in slow motion:
rock splash

3. DIY – High Speed Photography at Home

Another interesting tutorial that has a lot of insight and is well reviewed on the internet, is this high speed tutorial at home. It focuses on high speed images being shot at with a BB gun and exploding balloons and fruits. This article goes in detail of what you need to do in order to synchronize the flash and time of exposure to get the money shot. On the image below you can see a high velocity shot on three champagne glasses:

In here you can appreciate a balloon being shot at with a BB gun:

Go to DIY – High Speed Photography at Home to check out this tutorial and its pictures.

4. Speed Photography – How to Photograph Exploding Fruit and Balloons Popping

Here’s another balloon popping and bullet shooting guide, this one gives you nice examples of professional high speed photographs. If you go to Speed Photography – How to Photograph Exploding Fruit and Balloons Popping you can sample some of their work featuring shutter speed techniques and flash triggering methods. On the image below you can appreciate a balloon that has been popped and it only remains water with the silhouette of the balloon:
Balloon Water
Next, you can see a droplet of water hitting a peach and the impact shape it acquires:
water peach

5. High-speed Photography: Detection, Synchronization and Imaging

This article targets three key ingredients to capturing a bullet hitting a wine glass being triggered by the sound of the bullet hitting the glass. Detection, Synchronization and imaging are vital to take this kind of shot… you can see it in High-speed Photography: Detection, Synchronization and Imaging. Below is a picture of the bullet hitting the wine bottle:
hitting wine

6. How to: High Speed Photography using the Arduino

Next we have some impressive shots of droplets from water, milk, quarters and paint. These images were taken by some more complex tools, by using an electronic trip wire and an Arduino programmer. Take a look at How to: High Speed Photography using the Arduino. The images below represent a quarter hitting the water and creating a splash and a mix of colors splashing together:
Quarter Splash
color mix

7. High-speed Photography: Flash Duration, Shutter Speeds and Exposure

When we look at ordinary things with high speed eyes, everything becomes outer worldly. High speed photography during the night exposing the lenses for extended periods of time can result in pictures of hyper fast traffic and cars, like the following one:

These kind of images are successfully taken by perfecting the art of how quickly the film is exposed to light see High-speed Photography: Flash Duration, Shutter Speeds and Exposure.

8. Speed of flash units for high speed flash photography

Camera shutters and studio lights are not fast enough for this special duty, however camera speedlights used at their low power settings typically are fast enough. See more about this article in Speed of flash units for high speed flash photography. The following picture is a drop of milk:
camera shutter

9. Sound Triggering

Sound can also be used for triggering. The Shutter-Beam audio circuit can be set so that anything from a whisper to a shout can trigger an event. Once a sound exceeds the audio sensitivity of the Shutter-Beam a picture is taken. Take a look at these technique and illustrations for Sound Triggering.

10. IR Beam Triggering

Last but not least; we have the IR beam triggering. It’s easy really. All you have to do is place the IR beam in front of your subject. The IR beam is used as an invisible trip wire. Anything that enters the beam is photographed regardless of speed or size. See this interesting tutorial about IR Beam Triggering. If you’re interested in high speed photography, all it takes is the right camera, the time to study and practice the techniques you want… Then you’ll have the potential to take professional art shots of forms and shapes that the naked eye cannot perceive. When you’re looking for a new and exciting hobby that can express art, exposes the laws of physics, allows you to earn extra income and has the potential of becoming a professional photographer, then high speed photography is just what you need.


MrMonty is the founder of Pxleyes - He takes care of the site's development in php/mysql. He also works as a freelance PHP and .NET programmer and can be contacted via the site's contact page.

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2 Responses:

  1. Embassy Pro Books says:

    These are some great tips for high speed photography. I really can appreciate the way the drop of milk was captured with proper flash speed.

    ( 2 years and 3145 days ago )
  2. Greg says:

    Great shots!! A sound trigger may be very helpful for high speed photography. An example can be found in the following link:

    ( 2 years and 2756 days ago )