Photography is an art and like any other art, you need some equipment’s to pursue it. If you are a painter, you need canvas, brushes, and colors. If you are a music creator, you need musical instruments. Today we’ll talk about 9 must have things you need to create high-speed photography masterpieces.
1. Camera: If we are talking about photography, of course, we need a camera. Since shutter speed is not important in high-speed flash photography (read the blog post here), so we don’t need any special high-speed camera for this. Any DSLR camera or even compact camera that has manual controls and an option to fire flashes will work perfectly. More and more people are using mobile phones to click picture these days but as of now, you can’t take such pictures with mobile cameras.
2. Lens: You may use any lens for high-speed photography but two specific features will give you better results. First, it should have a longer focal length so your camera has some distance from the subject and its minimum focus distance should be smaller so you can focus closely. Imagine you are shooting water splash or color splash and you have a wide lens like 16-35mm, you need to go so close to the subject and you’ll end up with a wet camera with tons of color splashes on it.
I find that a 100mm macro lens in the best choice for this purpose. It has an optimal focal length so your camera won’t be very close to the subject and at the same time, it won't be very far so that you have a problem controlling it. Plus it has 1:1 magnification so no matter how small your subject it, you can focus without any problem.
If you are shooting a bigger subject like bursting balloons, you can use any lens.
3. Flashes: Flashes are also an important part of high-speed photography as it’s the main light source for us. You need at least two flashes but if you have more, it would be better. When choosing flash you need to remember that it should be a high power flash. Power of flash is measured in guide numbers, so a higher guide number means a more powerful flash.
Other than power it should have the option to control power manually because we are going to use it with low power settings so that we can get the shortest flash duration.
Make sure it also has slave mode, with slave mode you need to fire only one flash and the rest will sense the light and fire automatically. It will save your time to connect all the flashes using cables.
And finally, if it has a zoom head, it would be great.
4. High-Speed Photography Trigger: When I started high-speed photography, I did everything manually. I need to train myself hard to click at a precise moment yet I need to take hundreds of photographs to get a single perfect shot. Thanks to technology, now we have triggers that can control our camera or flash and save us lots of time and energy. I used two triggers in the past but after getting MIOPS Smart, I use this one most of the time. It’s compact and has a rechargeable battery so I can take it anywhere with me.
5. Tripod: A tripod is a must for high speed photography for two reasons, first because we shoot with manual focus so if it’s on tripod you need to focus only once in entire shoot and second we need to do lots of work simultaneously so it’s better to fix the camera on a tripod and free our hands to do other works.
6. Shutter Release Cable: We always try to keep a safe distance between our subject and camera, and we need to open the shutter and do the action (like bursting the balloon or play sound clip) at the same time. In this situation, a shutter release cable is very handy.
7. A Spare Room: In high-speed photography, you need to create setups and keep it for a few days until you get the desired results. Sometimes you need to play with water or colors and create lots of mess so it’s good to have a spare room where you can do all the experiments.
8. Practice, Patience, and Persistence: These three P’s are important in any kind of photography but in high-speed photography, you need to go to the extreme. Sometimes you don’t get a single shot after wasting hundreds of shutter counts. Sometimes you need to clean up after every shot and fine tune some settings and click again. If you don’t have patience, you may give up at that moment.
I created a series by injecting colors in the water. After every shot, I had to empty a 20-liter fish aquarium using a siphon, take it to the bathroom, clean it and fill it again, and I did it over 50 times.
9. Jugaad: Jugaad is an Indian word but in September 2017, “Oxford English Dictionary” which is the world’s most trusted English language dictionary, has included it in their latest edition. According to OED Jugaad means “a flexible approach to problem-solving that uses limited resources in an innovative way”.
In high-speed photography, you need to do Jugaad to create setups and solve problems. For my “Dancing Colors” series I took a plastic pipe and attach a soap dish on it, and then I took a black color swimming cap and attach it to the soap dish using Velcro. I fix it in air vent of my computer’s speaker and I was ready.
There are many examples like this but I want you to use your imagination. So be creative and use the things which are available in your home to create setups and take amazing shots. All the best.
About the Author
Ramakant Sharda is an author, iOS App publisher, passionate photographer and a MIOPS Ambassador based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. His work has been published in various magazines, newspapers, and blogs. He has published three Coffee Table Books, he writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. Check out his website http://ClickManic.com to see the masterpieces created by him or download his free app for iPhone and iPad “30 Days to an Ace Photographer“.