Celebration Of High-Speed Photography

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A digital camera, some fast-moving subject, and a bit of knowledge about how to take the best pictures of moving subjects will launch you on the road to some of the most interesting photographs you’ve ever taken. Although some blurring can be effective in communicating a sense of high-speed motion, some photographers want the subject to be frozen in time to get some pretty special photographic effects.

Below we present over 35 beautiful examples of high-speed photography, which are supposed to provide you with some inspiration of what can be done with high-speed photography. We also showcase some truly stunning slow-motion videos. All the examples are linked to their sources. You can also explore further works of the photographers we’ve featured below.

35 Beautiful Examples of High-Speed Photography

Heart Breaker
The photo is taken by Jeroen Rouwkema.

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Marbles
The photo is taken by fotoopa.

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A Splash

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Sound-triggered high-speed flash photography
These experiments were performed as part of the 2008 Astro-Science Workshop of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL.

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The Red And The Blue
The photo is taken by Paul Hocksenar.

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Cherry Drop
Photo by Brian Davies.

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KevLewis

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Ghirlanda Colore
The photo is taken by Antonino Dattola.

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Water Sphere

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Popping Balloons
The photo is taken by Rob Hilken.

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Allesblinkt

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kalimistuk

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Apple Water Splash
Photo by linden.g.

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Speedy burst water balloon
“Awesome and interesting shot of a water balloon being popped. I’ve never seen a planet blow up, but this is how I imagine it would look.”

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Water Sound Figures
Photo by linden.g.

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Inapond

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Smashed (and burning) bulb
The photo is taken by Peter Wienerroither from the University of Wien, Austria.

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Rising Up
Photo by James Neeley.

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Strange Brew
Photo by Ray Edgar.

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Shattered Glass
“This photo perfectly freezes the moment between the breaking of the bulb and the tungsten filaments (thereby breaking the source of light), it’s a sort of limbo captured.”

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Unknown (?)

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High Speed Milk Drop

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Shower Cap

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H0S

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3 Waterbaloons

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Milk and Coffee
The photo is taken by Andreas Stridsberg.

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Bullet Pictures

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Red Light Bulb
Photo by spyzter.

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Pabst + Hollow Point

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Water Dart
Photo by Adam Connah.

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Nebarnix High-speed photography set

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Flame

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Ain’t No Reason

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Minutes of fun
Photo by cavern.

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Slow-Motion Videos

High Slow-Motion Compilation

Car Explosion

Drop in Slow Motion

Lighter

High-Speed Camera of a Bullet

Shaking / Alternate Take
Eleven minutes of HD highspeed slowmotion.

Schweppes Slow Motion Advertisement

Last Click

Full Magnum Schlieren
“This full-scale schlieren image shows the discharge of a .44 Magnum revolver. Two spherical shock waves are seen, one centered about the gun’s muzzle (the muzzle blast) and a second centered on the cylinder. The supersonic bullet is visible at the far left. This weapon produces a bright muzzle flash and a cloud of products of gunpowder combustion that envelops the hands of the shooter. Such high-speed images help forensics experts understand the transfer of gunpowder traces to the hands when firing a gun.”

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How To Make High-Speed Photos?

The choice of shutter speed has a profound effect on the way moving subjects are recorded. For average everyday shooting with standard zooms, a speed over 1/20 to 1/125 second will prevent motion blur (camera shake). However, as the shutter speed goes past 1/500 second, you can then start to take advantage of the faster shutter speed’s ability to freeze action. For high-speed photography (especially sports photography), it is really necessary to get good motion blur-free shots. But making these speeds possible also requires either wide apertures, bright lighting conditions or an adjustment to the camera’s ISO speed — or a combination of all three.

Sometime the task of catching the most expressive instant, which can last for only hundredths of a second, becomes very difficult. In such cases, most photographers use the sequence mode, so that the camera fires several shots as it is panned. Cameras with a sequence mode let you fire a sequence and then throw out all of the non-sharp or useless images.

If you need to shoot a photo of a girl’s hair flying about or freeze the splash of a pouring drink, strobe is the way to do it. Most photographers use electronic flash as the lighting source in studios to freeze motion. Since electronic flash (strobe) stays lit between 1/800th and 1/2000th of a second, and because you will usually be shooting at f-stops above f-8, everything in the image will be razor sharp.

Further Resources

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Related posts

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Vailancio Rodrigues is a web ninja who bakes semantic muffins. Apart from that he is also interested in Motion Graphics, Visual Effects, Photography and knows little bit of Physics due to his college education . He is from Goa - a beautiful tropical paradise in India.

  1. 1

    these are amazing! I really want to get into photography one day. Thanks for these SM!

    0
  2. 2

    Actually two of the photos (the light trails) are long exposure photos, quite the opposite of high-speed photography…

    1
  3. 3

    BeantownDesign.com

    November 2, 2008 4:16 pm

    I like the egg and the wine ones the best.

    -2
  4. 4

    amazing photos!

    2
  5. 5

    High speed cameras are inventions as was a microscope in back i don’t know which century.

    2
  6. 6

    That’s right Marek – high speed cameras are indeed an invention, a characteristic they share with other inventions. I’m glad you shone the radiant beam of your intellect on this subject, as are all other Smashing Magazine readers.

    2
  7. 7

    How come you can’t tell the difference between long exposure, and high-speed photography?
    A little bit of research before publishing won’t harm

    2
  8. 8

    Don’t really understand the inclusion of the two tail-light photos and the “Minutes of fun”. The tail-light photos are great, but quite the opposite of high-speed photography! And the “Minutes of fun”, nice as it may be, doesn’t appear to have anything special apart from the fact that it’s a wonderful photo.

    That said, the collection of photos you have is great – and I love how you moved beyond the typical photos that are seen everywhere, and highlighted some other great pieces that have used this skill very well.

    Cheers to all the photographers! Certainly takes a lot of skill to get photos like these!

    -2
  9. 9

    Wonderfull images and videos. Who knows the name or the artist who plays on HD highspeed video?

    -2
  10. 10

    Cool!!! Keep up the good job!!!

    -2
  11. 11
  12. 12

    Amazing photographs…. Something amateur photographers rarely experiment…. We should give it try..

    0
  13. 13

    Like some said… long-exposures are the opposite of high-speed photography.

    -2
  14. 14

    I’m pretty impressed. These pictures look awesome. «Inapond» kinda looks like a snail.

    -1
  15. 15

    Wow, great collection of pictures. And great to see one of mine included in the list :-)

    -1
  16. 16

    Yes, they are all wonderful but the light trails aren’t ‘high speed’ photography ;-)

    -1
  17. 17

    wow, simply amazing
    i esp love that flame picture

    -1
  18. 18
  19. 19

    I have to agree the light trails photos are a bit out of place here (they are good photos though).

    -1
  20. 20

    Awesome pics man!

    -1
  21. 21

    Nice collection!
    I have a couple cool high-speed pics too, for those interested:
    Cymbal strike and
    More water splashing

    -1
  22. 22

    Great Post! Love the Water Sound Figures and balloons. Nice photography.

    -1
  23. 23

    One of the better high speed photographers that I’ve been following for years, http://www.splutphoto.com.

    -1
  24. 24

    fine & inspiring indeed for the pracitioners of advanced art & science too !

    -1
  25. 25

    Is “Pabst + Hollow Point” the one everyone says is long exposure? It just looks like high-speed of a lazer…

    -1
  26. 26

    My brother has taken several high speed bird in flight photographs and has won several photographic competitions with them:
    See them HERE

    -1
  27. 27

    the one where he is holding the red light bulb which was shot…

    just seems like a very bad idea, and poor safety.

    -1
  28. 28

    Please forgive me, I’m new to photography techniques. Which pics are long exposure pictures?

    -2
  29. 29

    Welcome in wykop.pl

    -1
  30. 30

    Here’s a commercial with high-speed and a killer message.

    -1
  31. 31

    OMG this is awesome!!!!! :]!!!

    -1
  32. 32

    As much as I enjoy these photo posts, it’s pretty annoying that the choice of photos is always low-resolution shots off of Flickr that cannot be used as desktop wallpapers. Sometimes if I get lucky one or two shots will be high-res (because like most people test days, my screen size is larger than 1024×768).

    -1
  33. 33

    Très belles photos !!! Félicitations….
    j’espère un jour en prendre des pareilles….

    -1
  34. 34
  35. 35

    As much as i appreciate some of the pictures posted, i have a feeling some of the pics are digitally modified/doctored.One of the milk drop picture is too good to be genuine.and the shadow deceives it. not sure whether my judgment is right.

    -1
  36. 36

    Fantastic,fantabulous
    Thanks

    -1
  37. 37

    awesome! i think the ballon slowmo is so beutiful and cool…

    -1
  38. 38

    Dissolving sugar into water (normal speed) :
    http://www.plusmoins.net/LE-DRAME-DU-SUCRE-Philippe-Fontes

    -1
  39. 39

    heather van de mark

    November 4, 2008 11:57 am

    really fantastic collection. great job SM!

    -1
  40. 40

    If I see another cliche water balloon being popped and called wonderful, inspiring, or some other empty superlative, I’m going to go insane.

    Seriously, are these peoples imagination so limited that the best they can come up with is popping a water balloon or dropping a drop of one thing into a puddle of another?

    12 of the 49 pics/vids were some kind of balloon pop.
    14 of the 49 pics/vids were some some kind of drop/splash of liquid.

    More than half of the photographers shown here lack sufficient imagination to do more than mediocre HS photos

    That being said, I enjoy the creative photos like the egg/mousetrap, the marbles/bubble, and the .44 Mag

    0
  41. 41

    cool work..

    -1
  42. 42

    Thanks… awesome list…

    -1
  43. 43

    Outstanding !! Amazing post.

    -1
  44. 44

    how the hell did my shot get in there?
    and who said they could use it?

    -1
  45. 45

    like the light of HOS photo …

    -1
  46. 46

    Amazing !

    -1
  47. 47

    amezing photo grophy wowwwww

    -1
  48. 48

    Cool bunch of works, thanks!

    -1
  49. 49

    I was amazed

    -1
  50. 50

    Wonderful, i like these..!

    0
  51. 51

    In one word: ‘amazing’!

    -1
  52. 52

    Awesome high-speed photograph…
    I like most water sphere and high-speed milk drop..looks really cool..

    -1
  53. 53

    these are good .

    -1
  54. 54

    Polarstern. You’re a miserable shit, aren’t you?

    Perhaps next time, if you want to see more creative high-speed shots, you could film yourself having sex. You’d need a fucking fast frame rate to capture that.

    -2
  55. 55
  56. 56

    i am define everything in one word.

    beautiful

    -1
  57. 57

    You will find more high speed photographs and other technical and scientific photographs at http://people.rit.edu/andpph/exhibit-3.html and a plethora of articles dealing with a high speed photographs of birds and insects and bullets n flight as well as splashes, etc. by visiting http://people.rit.edu/andpph/articles.html

    Interesting that among all the samples you published there were none by some of the pioneers of the “genre” namely Harold “Doc” Edgerton.

    I might also point out Martin Waugh’s site at http://www.liquidsculpture.com

    regards,
    Andrew Davidhazy at Rochester Institute of Technology http://people.rit.edu/andpph/

    -1
  58. 58

    hey can I download these pics to put on my wallpaper ??

    -1
  59. 59

    I’m with Polarstern on this one. The good news is that it’s really relatively easy to get a good bursting balloon shot. The bad news is that it’s quite difficult to think of anything truly original to do with this sort of photography.

    0
  60. 60

    Can I chuck this one into the mix. We shot it recently in Micronesia after building a housing for a £100k Typhoon HD4

    title=”Surfer in super slo mo barrel”>

    0
  61. 61
  62. 62

    Would have liked to see more detail and tutorial on some of the setups

    0
  63. 63

    can any one capture the spray…… i want to capture the spray…..for measuring droplet size..i have canon power shot s3is camera. and what should be the intensity and type of light for this high speed photo….please help me….

    0
  64. 64

    i like this photos all.please send me my mail.ok

    0
  65. 65
  66. 66

    woooooooow, really nice pictures

    0
  67. 67

    This is very interesting. I like how everything is caught in action, in slow motion.

    0
  68. 68

    really Amazing..!!!
    Speechless…..

    0

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