High Speed Photography 101: Catching, Splashing and Wiping

After several days of trial and error, plus a huge investment of equipment, I can safely say that I have the basics of high speed photography down to perfection. The equipment is probably (with out any doubt) the most important element to catching things with your camera in fractions of a second, than anything else. Although I did, by accident, manage to catch a drop of water in mid flight with just my camera flash, having an external flash is a must. So, here is my rig:

My setup is simple. A glass pan, so that light can pass through it. Coloured paper so that light will reflect the different colours to make everything more interesting, and Two strobe lights, or speed lights, which are just flashes that will create the photo.

You will have to shoot in Manual Mode with your DSLR. On mine, to trigger the flash, my camera likes 1/200 to sync nicely with the speed lights. Check your owner’s manual for your details on this. One would think that having such a slow shutter speed would be totally pointless when wanting to shoot things at high speed, but it is the light that acts as your shutter, not your camera’s shutter. Most flash units fire a burst of light at around 1/500 to 1/8000 of a second–that’s pretty quick.

I was using two strobe lights, as slaves, using my camera’s flash to trigger them. I am still waiting for my RF triggers to arrive, so for now I can fire both strobes (or all of them) with just my camera, and the strobes do all the work of catching the drops of water. It is hit and miss, as I shoot randomly until I am satisfied that I got some good shots. You can buy actuators that will fire the camera as it detects the drops of water and then flashes, but that is more money and equipment. I like the thrill of the trying to catch these drops as they are, me versus the machine.

Here are some photos I took today:

Let me know what you think by commenting down below?

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