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Fundamentals of High Speed Photography

Fundamentals of High Speed Photography

In recent times, photographers have wowed photo enthusiasts and the photography community with stunning photos of different phenomena. One would wonder how these top-notch photographers are able to capture a water splash, a bursting balloon, or even a bullet hitting a fruit. Although the access to more precise imaging technology to businesses, engineers, and consumers alike has been on the rise, the capturing of ultra-fast phenomena has been complex to most. High-velocity objects and phenomena would still look more like a blur in typical photographs, even when modern complex cameras are used.

However, due to the introduction of high-speed photography, the dynamics are slowly changing. This article dwells on high-speed photography, the vital tools, and the various concepts that it comes with.

Fundamentals of High Speed Photography

What is High-Speed Photography?

In simple terms, high-speed photography refers to the concept of capturing moments that happen in a fraction of a second. These moments cannot be seen with naked eyes. Currently, this kind of photography is unique from the typical types since it mainly requires almost 1/20000th of a second exposure time to freeze the moments. Apparently, most DSLR cameras lack such a high shutter speed. However, we are going to learn how to capture high-speed phenomena using the MIOPS Smart Trigger.

The Camera and Lens Requirements in High-Speed Photography

High-speed photography will come with its own set of gear. This simply means that there are specific essentials that one should arm themselves with so as to capture the stunning end products of the various occurrences. Investing in a good DSLR camera is inevitable in this kind of photography. In this case, the MIOPS Smart Trigger will come in handy. This is a versatile camera and flash trigger that comes in a single unit and ensures that you perfectly nail the shot in high-speed photography. The unique thing about this camera trigger is that it has 7 modes which include the Sound Mode, the HDR Mode, the Laser Mode, Time-lapse Mode, Scenario Mode, Lightning Mode, and the DIY Mode. These features ensure that you have an unmatched experience and variety to choose from as you conduct your speed photography. Sometimes, a photographer will be seeking to capture natural phenomena such as lightning. In this kind of scenario, the self-initiated mode would be ideal as probably it would be unsafe to be in the open. Furthermore, it would be impossible to operate without a trigger system. At other times, it may be necessary to allow a delay after the beginning of a subject movement before filming is started. Trigger systems usually include the delay units that ensure that the various parts of the recording system start in a particular pattern.



Take impossible photos by turning your camera into a high-speed capture device!


The lens is also a factor that will largely contribute to the success or failure of your high-speed shots. In this, much is not required since any lens will work perfectly. However, to be specific, using a 100mm macro lens would be ideal for the close-up shots like those of liquid sculptures while 24-70 mm zoom would be ideal for the balloon shots. In addition, the focal length should be long enough. This ensures that the distance between the subject and the camera is sufficient and the photography gear is kept free from color or water splashes. Using the 100mm is beneficial as it ensures that the camera is pretty far from the subject. It also grants the photographer the liberty of filling the frame with the subject due to the 1:1 magnification.

In the capture of these kinds of photos, it is also worth noting that numerous flashes are essential. Most of the high-speed phenomena will be captured in darkness. This is because the success of high-speed photography largely dwells on how quickly the film is exposed to light. As such, having many flashlights would contribute to the outcome being an epic one. However, photographers shooting natural phenomena or sporting activities are not able to keep everything in total darkness. In this case, the photographers will mostly rely on the shutter speeds. While normal photography in such settings will be at 1/125th of a second, high-speed photography will require extremely fast shutter speeds such as 1/20000th of a second. The camera should also be fixed on a tripod since a lot of work is involved simultaneously in the process.

The Detection, Synchronization, and Imaging

In order to get a perfect and clear image of a moment that is frozen in time, these 3 factors (Detection, synchronization, and imaging) need to be combined. Since the occurrence of the actions takes place at fast speeds, these fast-moving or unpredictable objects usually need remote detection.

On the synchronization factor, when the photographer is shooting in an outside environment and depends on the fast shutter speed, he/she must shoot at the exact moment when the subject passes the frame. As result, the delay time between the object’s movement and the amount the camera requires to take the shutter must be well known.

Imaging refers to the process of painting the image onto the film stock. The type of film that is used in high-speed photography could at times determine the outcome of the picture. As such, film speed is a common term in this kind of photography. This is the sensitivity of the film to light. Film speeds are normally referred to as ISO (International Organization for Standardization). The lower the ISO, the longer it is for the light to expose on the film. Due to this factor and the fact that high-speed photographers use low light levels, high ISO speeds are used to cover up for the short bursts of light that are implemented.

Fundamentals of High Speed Photography

Patience Matters a Lot

Just like the adage states, practice and patience lead to perfection. An important obligation in this kind of photography is lots of practice and patience. It is not easy at first as you will take many shots and none will make the cut into being the perfect shot. It is worth noting that this kind of photography is a constant learning process. It is only over time that skills get fine-tuned and one is able to churn out good shots.

Another aspect that is important in this field is to know your subject. This simply means that if you are a  wildlife photographer, you should have ample knowledge of the animals. If you are a sports photographer and want to try out high-speed photography, you should have a perfect knowledge of the specific sport. Through this, it becomes easier to prepare forehand. As such, playing with your equipment will expose you to more tricks and techniques that will come in handy in the field.


High-speed photography is now well known and established as a vital field in the scientific research scene. Humans have always experienced difficulties in understanding events that take short durations to occur. However, the advancements in technology in this field have ensured that the many mysteries that the normal eye could not fathom are being observed and studied extensively. This sector will continue to play a major role in many kinds of research in various areas. At this rate, it becomes extremely difficult to predict what the future of high-speed photography will bring. Some researchers have even stated that it could help in understanding how neurons fire and communicate in the brain. For the photographers, each new day is a whole new chance to experiment and discover something new in the field.

Related Article: High Speed Photography Explore Site

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