High-Speed Photography for Beginners




Introduction: High-Speed Photography for Beginners

High-speed photography is used to capture fast movement instantly. Generally, high-speed photography is done in a dark room, with dedicated equipment, like an external flash and a remote or sound activated trigger.

This tutorial will go over how to capture high-speed photography, without the need of dedicated equipment, using only basic camera tools and techniques.

Step 1: Equipment

Equipment you will need:
  • Tripod
  • Prop to be captured (Fake Iphone)
  • Weight for prop to cause a larger splash (Coins)
  • Camera
  • Stopwatch
  • Vase filled with water

Step 2: Setting Up the Scene

For the best results, having a flat background is best. This way the background doesn't become distractive.

For my scene i used white plastic boards I had around my house. I set them up on a table. I later draped a bed spread around the boards to give the scene some colour.

Position the tripod close enough to capture the water splash, but keep in mind, there is a chance your camera might get wet, so be caution when choosing the position.


  • For my pictures I ended up using 3-point lighting to brighten the scene. It changed the lighting to directional-diffused lighting. Now this isn't necessary, as the camera flash alone in the dark is bright enough to capture the shot. This only added additional brightness.

Step 3: Camera Settings

The camera settings should be set as followed in manual mode:

  • ISO: 100
  • Aperture: F4.0
  • Shutter Speed: 1/200 or higher
  • Flash on

Step 4: Setting the Timer

As i was by myself, I needed to set a timer for myself to know when I needed to drop the prop.

  • Set the camera to a 10 second countdown

To know when to drop the prop, i used a stopwatch. To start both the countdown and the stopwatch as exact as possible, hold down the shutter half way, and when ready, start the stopwatch and full press the shutter on the camera.

If you aren't by yourself, you don't need to use the countdown and could just have another person drop the prop, the exact moment you take the shot.

Step 5: Prep the Prop

Watching the countdown, prepare the prop to be dunked into the water. Once the stopwatch hits 10 seconds, drop the prop into the water, and pull your hand back as fast as you can. The more force put into the drop, the larger the splash and the better the photo.

To get a good shot, it will take some trial and error. While trying to get to get a good splash, many times my hand was caught in the shot, or i dropped it too early and it fell out of frame.


  • Things will get wet! Have a towel ready, or even cover your closer equipment if needed to protect from the water!


  • Thanks to books4ume for suggesting the use of Burst mode or Continuous shot. If your camera has the function, it will give you a higher success rate of getting a good shot. It will take a lot of pictures all at once, but at least a few shots should turn out great!

Step 6: Review and Revise

If everything worked out, you should of caught a great high-speed photograph!

Now that you know how, try changing the scene!
Some examples include:

  • Changing the backdrop
  • Dropping a different angle
  • Dropping with more/less force
  • Different angle/framing
  • Different container/prop
  • Coloured liquid


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    6 Discussions


    Very Nice !!

    I have tried this technique with good results. You can set your camera to the "Burst" mode or "Continuous Shot" mode and then apply the rest of the technique to get better results. This works for me every time, as then, the camera takes continuous frames or photos so one of the frames is sure to be to one's liking.

    Over all a Nice Instructable.

    Do check out my instructables on 3D Photography and 3D viewers.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Oh that makes it a lot easier! Thank you for the advice!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, lilninja42 for mentioning me in your step 5 ("books4ume"....the name which I have now changed to "techknowdroid".

    Thanks once again :-)


    5 years ago

    great instructable!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    These are some great ideas! I've never done anything with high-speed photography before. I'll let you know if I ever try this.