High Speed Photography (HSP) is the science of taking pictures of very fast phenomena. In 1948, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) defined high-speed photography as any set of photographs captured by a camera capable of 128 frames per second or greater and of at least three consecutive frames. In common usage, high speed photography may refer to either or both of the following meanings. The first is that the photograph itself may be taken in a way as to appear to freeze the motion, especially to reduce motion blur. The second is that a series of photographs may be taken at a high sampling frequency or frame rate. The first requires a sensor with good sensitivity and either a very good shuttering system or a very fast light. The second requires some means of capturing successive frames, either with a mechanical device or by moving data off electronic sensors very quickly. Here are 23 wonderful pics illustrating High Speed Photography.

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high speed photography 12

High Speed Photography17

high speed photography 21

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high speed photography

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

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  1. There is no big deal about it, a $1000 Casio Exilim can do all these even if the photographer is a 10 year old kid. The F1 Exilim can take 60 frames per second. Good night

  2. you forgot the original high speed picture: Salvador Dali’s picture of a drop of milk caught at 1/100,000 of a second!

  3. samer is not the brightest guy around is he?
    Clearly this is not to show the technical skill of the camera, but the moments that are captured within it. Try coming coming up with one of the ideas the photographer has thought of and then say something…..you prick.

  4. Samer, you obviously have no professional photo shooting experience. That 60 fps is nothing compared to the 100+ fps of high end stop motion cameras. It’s so different the 60 fps wouldn’t even compare to 60 fps on a camera capable of doing 100+ fps. Next time know what your talking about before opening your mouth. “A Casio Exilim can do all these” Ha!

  5. @samer: Hahaha… riiight. In 1/60 second a bullet @900fps travels 15 feet or so. The Casio doesn’t have a chance.

  6. samer: Yeah, and any idiot with two fingers can type rude comments about someone else’s work, rather than producing anything remotely interesting of their own. Good night, loser.

  7. 60fps doesn’t even begin to get close to what this stuff requires. A bullet travels at roughly the speed of sound (330m/s) — slightly less for most pistols, more for rifles. In 1/1000s it will travel 33cm — these pictures capture bullets in mid-air frozen in time. Even at its maximum 1200fps (with terrible resolution) the F1 can’t compete.

    A mention of Harold Edgerton (who pioneered all this stuff — look him up in Wikipedia or Google him) would have been nice.

  8. While there are some quite impressive shots, there are some very ususal shots, too, which I wouldn’t put in the high-speed drawer. E.g. the speedboat with the splash. In high-speed you would see waterdroplets. The dog, snowboarder and jumping woman are just snapshots, at daylight an avarage camera pick those up at 1/500 to 1/1000, does that make any picture taken at those exposure speeds a high-speed shot?

  9. Mine was the 22nd photo – the snapping spaghetti – so I think I have some understanding of how this photography works.

    It might seem that you need an expensive movie camera to take these types of images (e.g. 100fps or higher) in practice most of us use stills cameras. My camera can only take 2.5 frames a second and this picture was taken with a shutter speed of 2-3 seconds.

    I actually used a homebuilt sound-activated trigger to get the shot. You can adjust the time delay between about 0 and 1/100 seconds after the sound has been detected. It probably cost about £10 in parts.

    You take the picture in a dark room, and its sharpness is due to the speed of the flash, not the shutter speed. Even with movie cameras, the shutter can be open for a much shorter time than the frame rate would suggest.

    This type of photography is not particularly expensive. But it is quite difficult to think of anything original to take pictures of – there are loads of excellent pictures of bursting balloons already and the world doesn’t really need any more, except as practice.

    Incidentally, to whoever wrote the feature… I am flattered that my work has been used on this site, but I would appreciate having been asked first. This picture is copyright, not public domain. I would have (and do agree) for it to be used here.


  10. Thanks for featuring (and crediting) my photo #23, the gymnast. It’s nice to see others enjoy it as I do, although of course I must disagree with Flickr Widget about the “sub par” quality of my image.
    Let me assure samer that this photo was taken with a camera specially selected for it’s light sensitivity and speed, the Nikon D300.
    Ragnar- yes, in bright daylight you could catch some of those shots at between 1/500 and 1/1000 The jet skier water motion blur appears to be a stylistic choice to me. The dog in such bright light may not have required a specialized camera. However, the gymnast does require special equipment and techniques. What’s technically difficult about this shot is that she is indoor and no flash was used (usually prohibited in gymnastics photography). Upper level gymnasts tumble at an incredible rate of speed! Even though there are some windows, the light is diffused and the sun is not shining directly in, it’s just letting in ambient sunlight if that makes sense.
    The shutter speed on this image was 1/2500 of a second with an ISO of 640 and my camera shooting 9 frames per second. I’d be interested to know what technically constitutes “high speed” photography. While my gymnast is not as fast as a speeding bullet, she is pretty darn fast. Do you have a technical definition of “high speed photography” for us?

    PS- Since this photo was made, I have employed new flash techniques, increasing the stylistic qualities I have incorporated into my images. If you enjoy high spped images, they are worth checking out. Click on #23, above to get to my photostream. Newer images are at the top.

    Amanda Manfredi

  11. I would bet that the bullet was captured at about 10,000fps. I say this because I use Phantom V9 and V7’s at work to capture velocity of bullets, fragments and explosions. Another 5,000 frames per second and there would be no motion blur visible. The camera itself is capable of 150,000fps, but never had the need to shoot that fast… yet.

  12. could a cannon xti with a 50mm f1.8 work in the gymnastics photography lighting conditions you describe?

  13. Are you confusing frames per second (fps) with shutter speed (the fraction of a second the shutter opens to expose the sensor to light)?

  14. nice collection, but you should remove the matchsticks photo as it is a ruse. if you notice, not a single match is not in contact with other matches. in freefall, this would be statistically impossible to achieve. the obvious reason is that the matches are glued together in a randomized way in which it looks like they are falling. hence, it is not a high-speed photo.

  15. I’ll certainly look into this interesting stuff, but am aware the bullet photographs are a special breed of their own and require attenuated, short light strobe as exposure principle, not shutter of frame speed. With the 1948 SMPTE definition as 128 fps x 3 consecutive frames, then 60 fps would not qualify. But, there’s many ways to skin the cat.

  16. samer is a low level creation of God, forgive him coz theres no cameras like those on mountain sides. 60fps?wtf!! lol!

    i feel sorry for him.

    anyway, thanks for these marvelous compilation.

  17. Some nice pics, but not all of that is “high speed photography”.

    High speed photography is generally considered 1/10,000th of a second – faster than even high end DSLRs will go. It’s controlled by the flash exposure (which can be as fast as 1/40,000th of a second with speedlights).

    Some of those may be fast shutter speeds (the jet ski, gymnast, the dog, the snowboarder, the chick in the pool flinging her hair, but it’s not “high speed photography”.

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