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Celebration Of High-Speed Photography

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 Link

Heart Breaker1
The photo is taken by Jeroen Rouwkema2.


The photo is taken by fotoopa5.


A Splash7


Sound-triggered high-speed flash photography9
These experiments were performed as part of the 2008 Astro-Science Workshop of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL.


The Red And The Blue11
The photo is taken by Paul Hocksenar12.


Cherry Drop14
Photo by Brian Davies15.




Ghirlanda Colore19
The photo is taken by Antonino Dattola20.


Water Sphere22


Popping Balloons
The photo is taken by Rob Hilken.






Apple Water Splash28
Photo by linden.g3429.


Speedy burst water balloon31
“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.”


Water Sound Figures33
Photo by linden.g3429.




Smashed (and burning) bulb38
The photo is taken by Peter Wienerroither from the University of Wien, Austria.


Rising Up40
Photo by James Neeley41.



Strange Brew44
Photo by Ray Edgar45.


Shattered Glass47
“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.”


Unknown49 (?)


High Speed Milk Drop51


Shower Cap53





3 Waterbaloons


Milk and Coffee58
The photo is taken by Andreas Stridsberg59.


Bullet Pictures61


Red Light Bulb63
Photo by spyzter64.


Pabst + Hollow Point66


Water Dart68
Photo by Adam Connah69.


Nebarnix High-speed photography set71





Ain’t No Reason76


Minutes of fun
Photo by cavern.


Slow-Motion Videos Link

High Slow-Motion Compilation78

Car Explosion79

Drop in Slow Motion80


High-Speed Camera of a Bullet82

Shaking / Alternate Take
Eleven minutes of HD highspeed slowmotion.

Schweppes Slow Motion Advertisement

Last Click Link

Full Magnum Schlieren83
“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.”


How To Make High-Speed Photos? Link

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 Link

Further articles and related resources:

Also consider our previous articles:


Footnotes Link

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SmashingConf Barcelona 2016

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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

    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. 2

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

  3. 3

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

  4. 4


    November 2, 2008 3:51 pm

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

  5. 5

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

  6. 6

    November 2, 2008 4:16 pm

    I like the egg and the wine ones the best.

  7. 7

    amazing photos!

  8. 8

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

  9. 9

    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.

  10. 10

    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

  11. 11

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

  12. 12

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

  13. 13


  14. 14

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

  15. 15

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

  16. 16

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

  17. 17

    wow, simply amazing
    i esp love that flame picture

  18. 18
  19. 19

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

  20. 20

    Paulo Sacramento

    November 3, 2008 2:50 am

    Awesome pics man!


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