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Expert Tips and Techniques for High-Speed Photography

Expert Tips and Techniques for High-Speed Photography

Our previous article talks about high-speed photography, what gears you need, and the camera settings for two different types of high speed photography. If you haven’t read part 1 of this article, click here (How to Take the Most Creative High Speed Photos) and read it first.

So, by now, you’ve already fixed your camera on a tripod, attached a wired or wireless remote, and if you are shooting with flashes, you’ve set up the flashes and attached them to the camera too. Now let’s talk about the workflow.

If you are shooting with natural light, workflow is relatively easy. All you have to do is perform the action like bursting the balloon or toss water on your model or punch in the water and press the shutter at a precise moment.

If you are using a high speed trigger like MIOPS Smart+, you need to set it up, and it’ll click the picture. Like if you want to shoot a bursting balloon, you need to use its sound mode. When it senses the sound of a bursting balloon, it’ll trigger the camera automatically. You may need to take 2-3 test shots to set the delay time, but once it’s set, you need to burst the balloon, and a picture will be clicked at the right moment.

Now let’s talk about the workflow for indoor shoots with flashes. Here you have four different options, and we’ll talk about them one by one.

  1. Press the shutter button manually:

The first option is to attach the flashes to the camera and press the shutter button at a specific time. I don’t recommend this method as you’ll have more chances of missing the shots.

  1. Fire the flashes manually:

In this method, you’ll not attach the flashes to the camera. Your camera will be on bulb mode, and all flashes will fire using a push-button switch. These types of shoots are usually done in a dark room. It doesn’t need to be completely dark, you can have some light to see the setup and other things easily. Use a window for a light source, you can use the curtain to control the light coming into the room.

Since we are shooting with a narrow aperture such as f/16, opening the shutter for a longer time, like 1/10 or 1/5 seconds, won’t impact the image. To check it, switch off the flashes and take a shot at f/16 aperture and 1/5 second exposure time (ISO 100). If the picture is completely dark, you are good to go. If you see something in the picture, bring down the curtain a little bit more.

So your camera is on bulb mode, you need to open the shutter, perform the action, press the push button switch to fire the flashes, and release the shutter as soon as flashes are fired. You can’t do it alone, and you need someone to perform at least one of these actions.

  1. Press the shutter button using a high speed trigger:

Now the third method is using a high-speed trigger to control the camera. If you are serious about high speed photography, I suggest you invest in an excellent high-speed trigger like MIOPS Smart+. In this method, you’ll attach the camera to the trigger and use one triggering mode like sound, laser, or vibration to click the picture.

For example, we assume that you are shooting a bursting balloon or a breaking glass shot. In both cases, you need to use the sound mode of the trigger. When you burst the balloon or break the glass, the trigger will sense the sound and take the picture. You may need to take 2-3 test shots to set the delay time. Once it’s set, perform the action and leave everything to the trigger. 

  1. Fire the flashes using a high speed trigger:

This method is the last but the best option, and I use it most of the time. In this method, we fire the flashes using the trigger instead of the camera. It’s the best option because we don’t need to deal with the shutter lag of a DSLR camera. This technique is a fusion of methods #2 and #3.

So, we keep the camera on bulb mode like the third method, but we don’t attach the flash with the camera. Instead, we control the flashes with the trigger. So the workflow is, press the shutter button to open the shutter and perform the action. The trigger will sense it and fire the flashes. As soon as the flashes are fired, release the shutter button.

Rest things like narrow aperture and light in the room will be the same as method #3.

Things to Remember:

We already talked about a few things you need to remember, like shooting in a dark room with a little bit of light and shooting with a small aperture so the ambient light won’t affect the shot and you get everything in focus.

The other thing to remember is to always focus manually. If you are shooting indoors, the camera won’t focus as it requires some light to focus. And the other reason is that you may miss the action as the camera needs some time to focus. In general photography, it doesn’t matter, but in high-speed photography, every millisecond counts.

One more thing, always use the flashes with the lowest power possible. Your one flash will be master and will be connected with the trigger or the push button switch and use rest flashes on slave mode. When the master flash fires, rest flashes will fire automatically, and you don’t need to use wires to connect all flashes.

The Secret Trick:

Now take a deep breath and relax as I will reveal an easy method that will help you get high-speed pictures effortlessly, and you will have ten times more chances of getting an accurate shot. Are you ready?

The secret lies in the burst mode of your camera. You need to set your camera on high-speed burst mode. You also have to change the camera to manual mode and set the aperture and shutter speed according to the available light.

When you press the shutter button, the camera starts taking pictures and keeps clicking until you release the button. How many shots the camera will take in a second will depend on your camera model and your memory card. Different cameras can click between 5 to 20 photos per second. Mirrorless cameras have more FPS than DSLR cameras.

The workflow in this method will be like this. Press the shutter button and do the action. Once the action is done, release the shutter button. By using this method, you’ll have more chances of getting the perfect shot. It works with flash too, but in the case of flash, your FPS will come down to half of the actual FPS of your camera or maybe even less.

I hope this article will help you to understand high-speed photography and take great shots. So start doing it and amaze the world.

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Blog Credit: Ramakant Sharda

Ramakant is an Award-Winning Photographer, Author, Mobile Apps Publisher based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. Many of his works have been published in magazines, newspapers, and international blogs. He writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. He has published three (so far) coffee table books. Get his latest book Mastering High-Speed Photography.