How to Do High-Speed Photography

With all the existing photography genres, high-speed photography is considered one of the most challenging types. Not only may it require you a piece of excellent camera equipment, but you also have to learn the right camera settings to achieve a stunning photograph. High-speed photography allows you to capture moments that occur in a fraction of time.

This genre gives an opportunity to feature exciting things that can't be seen by the naked eyes unless they are captured. Whether you have the latest model for an action camera or DSLR, know that not all camera types can be used for high-speed photography. It is because this genre requires almost 1/20,000 of a second exposure time to take pictures of moments like water splash and bursting balloons. To achieve these shots, you need to learn the fundamentals and practise regularly to become an expert in no time.


The Fundamentals of High-Speed Photography

If you are a photographer who wants to switch in a new genre, then you may give high-speed photography a try. It is highly recommended, especially if you are fascinated with shooting liquid sculptures or capturing balloon shots. For novice photographers, here are some reminders when engaging in high-speed photography:

1. Ask advice from a photography mentor. Although it is easy to search for tips and tricks that can assist you in high-speed photoshoots, it is still more helpful to ask the experts. If there is someone you know who excels in this genre, then kindly ask for significant advice that you can apply in photography. 

2. Be patient. In any photography genre, patience is a requirement. It is because you may not achieve the perfect shot in a single capture. Even if you take many shots, you may still need to repeat the process to get the flawless photograph. There are times when you need to take hundreds of shots to achieve your desired result. Remember, expert photographers were not born having the skills they have. It took them days, months, and years of practice to get where they are right now. You, too, can excel in high-speed photography.

3. Combine slow and fast. When browsing the Internet for high-speed photography, you may see samples of pictures with motion blur. Some photography enthusiasts combine motion blur with a sharp frozen image when shooting sports and action. It is achievable by setting your camera to Second Curtain Sync. In this mode, the shutter will open, allowing light to come in. The flash will freeze the subject before the end of the exposure.

4. Consider an action cam for a more personal view. An action camera is ideal for recording extreme videos, whether indoors or outdoors. There are accessories that you can use to maximize their usage. For instance, you can attach an action cam to headgear to start documenting your biking or hiking trip. The good thing about the action camera is that you can also use it for photography, giving you more personal photos. You can also bring the action cam underwater since it is waterproof. For high-speed photographs, make sure to use a high-quality action cam with amazing photography features. Stunning photos can be achieved using 30fps and 60fps. 

5. Prepare your camera equipment. It is essential to determine which camera device is ideal for taking high-speed photographs. A DSLR is highly recommended, but it is also fine to use other cameras with manual controls. Another thing to consider is the lens requirement. Know that the focal length should be long enough. It means the distance between the camera and the subject is sufficient. For bursting balloon shots, you can use a 24-70mm zoom. However, many photographers use the 100mm focal length because it has 1:1 magnification, allowing you to fill the frame with your subject. Other equipment required for high-speed photography includes flashes, shutter release cable, and tripods. Don't forget to bring a tripod because you may need it, primarily if you work simultaneously. Always check the images after the shoot to determine whether you have to repeat the process or not.

6. Set your camera to burst mode. One trick that you can apply in high-speed photography is the use of burst mode. This shooting mode is also known as continuous shooting mode, continuous high-speed mode, or sports mode. It allows you to take as many pictures as you can because the camera will keep on shooting until you release the camera button. In burst mode, many photographs are taken in quick succession. Usually, cameras take four to ten images per second. The camera only stops taking pictures when the buffer memory is full or the shutter button is released.

7. Use the required camera settings. Make sure to use the camera settings required for high-speed photos. You may not achieve your desired results if you do not adjust the settings to the requirements. The camera settings for high-speed photography include Bulb (camera mode), f/11-f/16 (aperture), 100-400 (ISO), Manual (focus), and the lowest setting for flashes. Since you will incorporate the Bulb mode, choose a dark area for the photoshoot venue because a bright room might affect the quality of the shot.

8. Use Shutter Priority mode for action photography. If you take high-speed photographs without utilizing flash, then make sure to use the Shutter Priority mode. Apply the required shutter speed and lock it in. To determine the best shutter speed, you may experiment with different speed rates. Other than changing the camera mode, also look for the aperture and ISO. You don't have to fear higher ISOs because there is software that can fix it. Higher ISOs mean more digital noise in your photos. You can correct the images by looking for noise-reduction software such as Adobe Lightroom.


High-speed photography is a challenging but fun photography genre. It allows you to express yourself through creative shots. From finding the best subject to using the right camera settings, capturing the perfect shot becomes less challenging. With passion and regular practice, you can improve your skills and perform camera tricks to create astounding high-speed photos.