How fast are you?
You know how to compose, use the light, and operate your camera. You’re handy with a flash. You consider yourself a pretty good photographer. But how fast are you? When the difference between getting and missing the shot is measured in milliseconds, are your reflexes and trigger finger up to the task?
High-speed photography is capturing the moments that happen in a fraction of time which you can’t see with the naked eye, like a bursting balloon or a splash of water.
Recommended camera and lens
Of course, you need a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, if you have any other camera that has manual controls, it will also work fine. Next is the lens and just like the camera, any could work. For instance, you can use a 100mm macro lens for close-up shots like liquid sculptures and a 24-70mm zoom for balloon shots. The only lens requirement is that the focal length should be long enough so that you have sufficient distance between your camera and the subject, to keep your gear safe from colors and water splashes.
Next, you need flashes, it could be one for simple shots or you can add multiple for a more complex composition. The next requirement is a tripod because you need to do lots of work simultaneously, so it’s better that the camera is fixed on the tripod. You also need a shutter release cable or remote to release the shutter. For instance, the MIOPS Smart Trigger has multiple modes for sound, laser, lightning triggering as well as Time Lapse and HDR modes.
Triggering the camera
When you're ready to start shooting even faster-moving objects or find that the “fast hands and timing luck method” isn't sufficient to capture your moving object, you may want to look into a shutter trigger. Some of these use sound to trigger the shutter and flash, others may use laser beams so that when the beam is broken by the moving object, the shutter and flash are triggered.
Using MIOPS Smart Trigger
Sound and Laser modes are a great alternative for getting those high-speed photography shots that portrait and product photographers dream about.
The MIOPS Smart+ has a photocell on the front panel, which is utilized for a number of things, including the laser triggering function. The available parameters are straightforward and are pretty much self-explanatory. Once your preferences are set, a press of the start key and you’re good to go. There are three parameters available:
- Threshold – This is the sensitivity to the laser. If set too high, it can cause false triggering. Too low a setting can cause failure to trigger.
- Delay – Allows you to delay the shutter release after the initial trigger event. Delays are specified in milliseconds (0-999)
- Frames – How many images you want to be taken once the laser has been interrupted.
The sound function allows triggering of either the flash or the camera, or both. Sometimes it is needed to add a delay to the shutter and it all depends about the camera settings, lighting conditions, and external flashes. Simply point the Smart+ at the sound source and adjust the parameters, which are available in three options:
- Sensitivity – This is the sensitivity to the sound. Setting too high can cause false triggering. Too low can cause failure to trigger. Having the trigger further away from the source introduces a delay (3 milliseconds per meter) and will need to be compensated for with higher sensitivity.
- Delay – Allows you to delay the shutter release or flash after the initial trigger event. Delays are specified in milliseconds (0-999)
- Lock – If set, the MIOPS will trigger once. Particularly useful if using the dark environment and firing the flash mentioned above. In this case, multiple firing can ruin a high-speed image.
For shooting with the sound mode, a good example is to set your camera to about 1.3 to 1″ second shutter. Set the MIOPS to sensitivity 90, delay 10ms, then set it to Lock “On” so it only triggers once as any kind of sound can trigger your flash. After pressing start on the MIOPS Mobile App, press your shutter and try hitting an object, such as a plastic bottle of water as a test subject.
Once you isolate the sound correctly and find your best camera settings, then it will be time to put the real object that you would want to crash to set the sound trigger. Again, it could be crashing a bottle. Remember that the MIOPS Smart Trigger is not water-resistant, so be careful and avoid getting it wet. You need to shoot in a dark area or turn off all the ambient light because the slow shutter of your camera might expose for the ambient light.
Related Article: How to Use MIOPS Smart+ Laser Mode
Manuel Delgado is an award-winning photographer with a specialization in travel and documentary photography. He writes for Contrastly and is a Mentor for NGO Photographers Alliance, having led workshops in Africa with a focus on ethical and humanitarian photography. His work has been exhibited in Europe and the Americas.
Driven by an innate curiosity for his surroundings, Manuel´s process is mainly focused on capturing people in their natural environment; translating through his lens the subtle threads of daily life that are shared across cultures, borders, and races. Depicting people from diverse backgrounds, his work is united by a shared aesthetic that serves to tell each individual’s story. Manuel is currently living in Düsseldorf, Germany.