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High Speed Photography Nitty-Gritty

High Speed Photography Nitty-Gritty

What is the High-Speed Photography?

Photography is all about capturing moments. But, moments can pass in no time.  A quick moment can blur fast and vanish into thin air. High-speed photography is a technique which freezes these kinds of moments so they can be reminiscence forever.

popping balloon photography
© Ramakant Sharda –

Generally, high-speed photography is used to capture moments which appear to be invisible to a human naked eye. 1/20,000 seconds of exposure is the perfect shutter speed setting to capture the high-speed moments but most of the cameras don’t have such high shutter speed.

So, what are the ways to capture these moments? Let’s find out.

Gears Required

For high-speed photography, the following components are required.

Camera – The first gear which you need is, of course, a DSLR camera. There is no specific DSLR camera required, any DSLR camera can be used for high-speed photography. Even if you don’t have a DSLR but have a camera with manual control settings, it can also work perfectly.

Lens – Any lens can be used to do high-speed photography. The only thing to remember is that the focal length should be long so the distance between the subject and the camera is enough so that the camera gear will remain safe from a splash of water, color or other things.

Flash – Flashes with manual control over power can be used. Generally, multiple flashes are used to capture high-speed photography shots for accurate details.

Tripod – A tripod is a must. Since a lot of things going on simultaneously while performing a high-speed photography. Fixing the camera on the tripod keeps it safe and you can focus on other aspects of the shoot. A shutter release cable can be of great help in this regard too.

Most important of all, you need is to develop patience because there are times when even a hundred shots aren’t enough to satisfy an artistic soul. High-speed photography requires constant practice and lots and lots of patience. Giving up is not a choice because once perfected it can be an outstanding experience.

high speed photography
 © Ramakant Sharda –

Also, getting someone as an assistant for you is a good idea to simplify the work. The entire shooting creates a lot of mess, which is required to be cleaned once you are done.

Finally, high-speed photography is not only about the camera, flashes, and some settings. You need to do a lot of creative brainstorming and find out hacks to get hold of the expected shots. (Also Read: High-Speed Photography Ideas).

Camera Settings

Following camera settings are required to capture high-speed moments:

  • Camera mode: Bulb
  • Aperture: F/11 – F/16
  • ISO: 100 – 400
  • Focus: Manual
  • Flashes with the lowest power possible

Why do we require flashes with the lowest power settings?

It is because the lowest power gives the shortest flash duration and helps freeze the subject better. At full power, the duration of the flash is about 1/1,000 seconds but, if flash is kept at 1/128 power then the duration can come down at almost 1/35,000 seconds.

Dancing Colors© Ramakant Sharda –

The Flow of Work

The first step is setting the camera on the tripod and attaching a shutter release wire. Set lowest possible ISO, keep it at 100 and increase only if flash power is not adequate.

Set Aperture to f/11 – f/16 and focus manually. Now ask the assistant to press the shutter release button as and when you instruct and then release it once flashes are fired.

Now do the action using one hand (like bursting the balloon or playing the sound) and fire the flashes using a switch at the perfect moment. You need a little bit of a practice to eventually to get it perfectly synced.

Things to Remember

Dark room is a must: High-speed photography works best in a dark room. We are using bulb mode so the shutter speed will come down as low as 1/10 or 1/5 seconds. Hence, a brightly lit room will affect the shot badly. A tiny light source however, is advisable so you can see things.

Smaller Aperture: Aperture between f/11 – f/16 is the best so you can get deep depth of field and entire subject is in focus. Also, with a narrow aperture, the ambient light won’t affect the shot.



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


Manual Focus: The camera must be on manual focus mode. This is because in the dark your camera can’t focus quickly and the action can be easily missed.

Use of Flashes: A lowest possible flash power is recommended and also use slave mode of the flashes. This means there is no need to attach wires, fire the master flash and this will automatically fire the rest of the flashes.

The Magic Trick

Now sit back and relax, because we are going to reveal a super easy way that you can use to shoot such pictures without much effort. Your chances of getting an accurate shot will increase tenfold. Are you ready?

The secret is an automatic camera and flash triggering device like MIOPS Smart Camera Trigger. This device can control your camera or flash using advanced triggering modes like Lightning, Sound, Laser, Time-lapse, HDR and more and turns your regular camera and flash unit into high-speed photography equipment.

In next article, we are going to learn how you can take high-speed photos using this smart trigger, keep reading and happy clicking.

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 to see the masterpieces created by him or download his free app for iPhone and iPad “30 Days to an Ace Photographer“.

Related Article: High Speed Photography Explore Site

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