For beginner photographers or even professionals who have never tried high-speed photography before, taking photos of fast-moving images is an intimidating and seemingly impossible feat. This fear may have some basis since objects moving at millisecond speeds are not easy to capture through the camera lens. However, did you know that you can actually take on this challenging photography genre with just your entry-level camera?
Yes, high-speed photography is achievable even with your most affordable camera gear. Many DIY high-speed photoshoots have even produced the most spectacular images that continue to awe and inspire shutterbugs and advanced lensmen to try this genre in their home studios.
This article will discuss some easy high speed photography tips that you can try, regardless of your gear and skill level. As a do-it-yourself guide, we’ll prove that you don’t need an expensive camera and a long list of accessories to get started.
Let’s take a look at the basic camera gear and equipment that you need to start your first DIY high-speed photoshoot.
What You Need to Get Started on DIY High-Speed Photography
As mentioned earlier, you only need the essential camera equipment that you can find in your camera bag or rent from a studio. Prepare these essential items for your DIY high-speed photography kit.
1. Entry-Level Camera
We’ve mentioned earlier that you can easily get started on high-speed photography using an entry-level camera. What does “entry-level” actually mean? Basically, it means that it’s the most affordable camera that a DSLR manufacturer offers. Whilst it is the cheapest, it has the functionalities that beginners need to take on different photography genres.
For high-speed photography, for instance, entry-level cameras have the functionality to help you capture fast-moving objects. All your camera needs to have is a Manual Mode, a feature that entry levels surely offer.
The importance of Manual Mode in high-speed photography is that it enables you to customize and adjust the most important mechanisms involved in this genre: shutter speed and aperture. With a Manual-enabled camera, you can also change the ISO number and exposure value.
2. Sturdy Tripod
The next must-have high-speed camera equipment is a sturdy tripod. Again, like your camera, this doesn’t have to be expensive. As long as it does the basic job of a tripod, which is to hold your camera in place, hands-free, then they’re enough.
The tripod is one of the most important pieces of equipment during a high-speed photoshoot. For starters, it fixes your camera at a specific eye level and distance from the object. Additionally, a tripod will prevent motion blurs caused by manually holding the camera while taking the shot.
Tripods can also help you take photos from a distance, especially if there are safety risks and hazards involved in the photo shoot. Hazards and risks are common during high-speed events. Most shoots will require you to be a few feet away from the high-speed event.
The type of camera lens you choose for high-speed photography will depend on your subject and the type of composition that you want to achieve.
Macro lenses, for example, are best for high-speed events that require you to take a close-up image of the subject while keeping a safe distance from it. Telephoto lenses are best for high-speed outdoor photography, such as when photographing wildlife, lightning, or rocket launches.
For your easy and DIY high-speed photography sessions done indoors, you will most likely choose a macro lens to capture the amazing details of your subjects, especially if they’re as small as a water droplet or as detailed as a balloon popping or a glass-breaking.
4. One or Two Flash Units
Another important and irreplaceable high-speed camera equipment is your flash units. Most photographers even say that for indoor photoshoots, you can never capture fast-moving objects without the burst of light from your flash guns. Why?
Flash guns or the quick burst of light from your flash units are the ones responsible for freezing the moment during an event. The burst signals your camera to activate the shutter and capture the fast-moving object.
The momentary light emitted through these gadgets also emphasizes the forms and details of the objects being photographed in a pitch-black studio. They will be the single light source that will freeze moments and objects in motion, so better grab one or two from your camera bag.
5. High-Speed Camera Trigger
Another non-negotiable when taking a hassle-free and productive high-speed photoshoot is the remote camera trigger. Remember that you are taking photos of objects that move at crazy speed over a very short period of time. These events are something that you can never observe with your naked eye. Additionally, your human reflexes are also not fast enough to react to their movement. This is where high-speed camera triggers come in.
MIOPS Smart+ wireless camera trigger, for example, is a recommended DIY high-speed photography trigger that will transform your entry-level camera into a high-speed gear. This device has a lot to offer to help you dominate this genre.
Some of MIOPS’s camera trigger features are the Laser, Sound, and Lightning Modes. With these modes, you don’t have to rely on your reflexes to click the shutter as the trigger does it for you.
DIY Laser Mode Using MIOPS Camera Trigger
How can you use Laser Mode for your DIY high-speed photoshoot? This mode utilizes the device’s built-in motion sensor to detect objects in motion and signal your camera and your flash guns to activate the shutter.
Laser Trigger Mode is best used in high-speed events, such as a bullet or arrow shooting through an apple, a BB gun pellet shattering a glass or lightbulb, or a drop of water crashing into a liquid or solid surface.
You can simply position your camera and point it towards the object or within the frame of the high-speed event. Then, attach the camera trigger to your camera and position the laser pointer towards the object or an area close to it. As soon as the bullet, arrow, pellet, or waterdrop breaks the laser pointer, the trigger will signal your camera and flash units to activate.
DIY Sound Mode Using MIOPS Camera Trigger
MIOPS Sound Trigger Mode uses the same concept as Laser Mode. However, instead of detecting motion using a laser pointer and the trigger’s motion sensor, Sound Mode uses loud sound events to trigger the camera to shoot.
These events include loud balloon pops, gunshots, glass shattering, and other high-decibel events. The mode uses a highly sensitive sound sensor that can be adjusted to only pick up specific sounds or noise from your subject.
DIY Lightning Mode Using MIOPS Camera Trigger
Finally, one very special mode that makes MIOPS Smart the best in the market is its Lightning Trigger Mode. This feature is specifically designed to conquer lightning photography, the most exciting and thrilling high-speed photography genre out there.
What does Lightning Mode offer?
For starters, the mode uses MIOPS’s signature light sensor. It detects lightning events and captures them at millisecond speed.
Aside from the superfast camera shutter reaction, the trigger’s wireless capabilities will also protect you from the risks of harsh weather and challenging outdoor terrains.
Aside from these three dedicated high-speed photography sensors and modes, the best part about using MIOPS as your DIY high-speed camera trigger is its intuitive technology that allows you to control your camera through your smartphone.
If you want to know more about MIOPS Smart camera triggers, we have all the information on our MIOPS Smart+ product page.
Now that you have the list of the must-have high-speed photography equipment, let’s go to the items and props that you need to capture unique high-speed images.
DIY Indoor Photoshoot Props
If you are doing an indoor high-speed photoshoot, you can collect some of these materials and props.
A. Colorful Balloons
There are many ways to use balloons for your high-speed photoshoot. For starters, you can do a simple balloon-popping photography to capture the explosion and how its elastic surface shreds and tears to hundreds of pieces. You can also fill your balloon with dyed water or colorful dust or glitters to add a more mesmerizing effect to your images.
Since you’re going DIY, it’s best to be resourceful. Find a place where you can hang your balloon. You can manually prick it with a pin or go all wild with a BB gun pellet shot.
As mentioned earlier, since balloon popping creates this loud sound event, you can use a camera trigger with a sound sensor like MIOPS Smart.
B. Dropper and Water Container
If you want something simple but impactful, you can try water drop photography. The most basic DIY material for your first water drop kit may include a dropper, a mixing bowl or any water container, and a good background and foreground. For these two elements, you can either go colorful or full black or white. You can also use different light sources, colored lights, and other elements that will give your image unique patterns and hues.
Since water drop photography involves droplets of water falling into a solid or liquid surface, you can take advantage of this vertical motion and use a camera trigger motion sensor. MIOPS laser mode is the best feature for the job.
C. Light Bulbs or Glass Panel
If you have old light bulbs or glass panels lying around, you can capture amazing broken glass, glass shattering, or lightbulb high-speed images. This high-speed photography tip, however, requires proper preparation and protective gear because of the hazards.
Position your camera and your flash units a few feet away from the subject. You can activate your camera’s shutter using a laser mode that will detect the motion of an arrow or a pellet from a BB gun. You can also use the sound mode, since glass shattering is a loud event, to signal your camera to burst and flash units to burst.
D. Fluids of Varying Colors
Aside from water drop photography, you can also capture water sculptures using fluids of varying colors and viscosity. Instead of capturing a droplet and how it disturbs the calm water on the surface, you can take images of fluids that present graceful and unpredictable movements and patterns.
Unlike glass, water is a more friendly medium, so you can do this outdoors or indoors, with your family and friends.
7. Outdoor Photography Equipment
For outdoor high-speed photography, you have the freedom to capture physical and visual objects in motion, without the restriction of the four walls of your studio. These include lightning, wildlife, and even human movements in sports, with just your entry-level camera and a reliable camera trigger.
Getting Started on Your High-Speed Photography Journey
With your DIY high-speed photography kit and knowing how props and camera accessories can be used for a successful photoshoot, we can now go to the different high-speed photography genres that you can try.
We’ve already mentioned balloon popping, waterdrop, water sculpture, light bulb, broken glass, lightning, wildlife, and sports photography. What other genres can you try with your new DIY high-speed photography knowledge?
Getting started on high-speed photography and mastering the art of capturing and freezing high-speed objects and events in motion can introduce you to new and surreal worlds that you can only observe through the lens of your camera.
With your newfound knowledge of high-speed camera equipment, materials, and methods, you can apply their most basic principles to other photography genres.
Here are some examples:
- Your skills in water drop, water splash, and water sculpture photography are basics when doing product photography.
- Your know-how in using motion sensors is a great foundation for DIY sports photography, such as capturing skateboarding tricks on your local skating parks.
- Your expert timing and precision when using the sound mode is also a good lesson for taking on rocket launch photography, a genre straight out of a science fiction movie!
The lesson here is you can do anything and break the limits of your creativity, as long as you have the right knowledge to take the first step. Taking the first step also means securing the right camera equipment that will take your photos to greater heights!
As this article has proven, with your entry-level camera and MIOPS’s remote camera trigger, you can be unstoppable!