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Freezing Time: A Masterclass in High-Speed Photography

Caleb Ward
By Caleb Ward
By Caleb Ward

Learn the ins and outs of shooting high-speed photography with this extensive masterclass.

High speed photography is as impressive as it is challenging.  Capturing perfectly timed high speed shots requires special equipment and can test the limits of your patience. The shutter speed, flash settings, light setup and your subject’s movement must all be ideal to pull off a beautiful high speed shot. And even then, the camera must snap the picture at just the right time. The reward comes with the challenge.

To help us all understand how to better shoot high-speed photos, Maurice Ribble has created a high speed photography masterclass for free. The video will covers everything you need to know to get started in high-speed photography including:

  • Sutter Lag
  • Flash lag
  • Equipment set up
  • How to light a scene
  • Using triggers

The biggest take away from the video is the fact that high speed photography is less about shutter speed and more about flash. To get an object to look like it is suspended in mid-air you need to make sure you have a flash that can pop off very fast. Maurice states that you don’t need to go out and buy a name brand flash from Canon or Nikon to get these effects either. Instead, Maurice uses a Yongnuo flash which is only a fraction of the price.  I’ve personally been very impressed by the performance of the Yongnuo brand and highly recommend looking into it as an alternative to buying a $400 Speedlight from the big name guys.

On top of a speedlight you will need some sort of triggering device, with the accompanying cables and adapters. There are a many different types of triggering devices, but the two most popular ones are triggers based on light beams and sound. Beam triggers work like a laser security system: when an object (bullet, water drop, etc) crosses a beam it sends a signal to alert your lights and camera to “go-off” in a predetermined amount of time. The other trigger system is a sound trigger. A sound trigger does exactly what you might think it does, it triggers your lights and cameras using a microphone. This is important if you are shooting a balloon popping or a gun shot.

Maurice has created a very unique triggering device designed especially for taking high-speed photographs named the Camera Axe. The Camera Axe gives users the ability to connect many different triggering methods including beam, sound, projectile, and valve. You can get a Camera Axe for $185 on the Camera Axe website.

This video was first shared on Marcus Ribble’s YouTube Channel. Thanks for sharing Marcus!

Have any other tips for shooting high-speed photography? Share in the comments below.