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3 Tips for High Speed Photography with a Digital Camera

Learn about high speed photography from commercial photographer Dan Bracaglia in this digital photography lesson from Howcast.


High speed photography is certainly one of the more challenging forms of photography out there because you literally have a split second to nail that exposure.

One really important thing to remember when shooting high speed subjects is you're going to need a really quick shutter speed. Something like a 500th of a second is a really good place to start. You go any slower than that you're going to risk having some motion blur which is not usually advantageous for high speed images.

I have a couple of examples here that I'll show you. This is professional snowboarder, Tim Humphreys, lip sliding a handrail. And the way I shot this, because it was night time it was fairly difficult to get a fast shutter speed. So compensate, I lit it with a bunch of different flashes. So when the flashes popped, even though the shutter speed was maybe only a 200th of a second, it froze him for that split second. And you can see there's a little bit of ghosting behind him which is blur from the light, but it actually has a really cool effect in this case.

Other high speed images, I do a lot of skate board photography. This was also again shot with a flash. Again, flashes do really help to freeze the image. Especially in this case. The sun was starting to go down and we were loosing daylight a little bit.

Basketball is another good example of high speed photography. A little bit more difficult because it's indoors. As a result you have to crank up your ISO. So you're going to loose a little bit of quality, but the sacrifice to get that fast shutter speed is really important, because a photo like this would really be ruined if it were blurry.

Boxing is another great example of people moving fast, fists flying. Again can't trust enough fast shutter speeds.

And the final one is skateboarding again. It looks as if he is standing still in one spot, but you can obviously tell from his body language that he is moving. And with good skateboard photography or good action sports photography, whether it be snowboarding, skateboarding, BMX, that's always the goal is to freeze the subject in such a way.

It's one of my favorite forms of photography out there. Again, because it's challenging. It's a split second. You can't always just rattle off just a bunch of frames, especially if you're using a flash. So just really presents this challenge and it's really fun and the reward is really great.

There's just some of the basic tips for downing some cool high speed photos.

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