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5 High-speed Photography Tips


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Consider a Triggering Device
Photographing a bullet in motion is almost as difficult as catching one with your bare hands. A triggering device substantially increases your odds of getting the perfect shot.
Photographing a bullet in motion is almost as difficult as catching one with your bare hands. A triggering device substantially increases your odds of getting the perfect shot.
©iStockphoto.com/Jelena Popic

At HumanBenchmark.com, you can test your human reaction time. The test captures the time in milliseconds it takes between seeing a color change and clicking your mouse button. According to the site's data, average reaction time is 215 milliseconds, though our tests averaged about 265 milliseconds.

No matter how fast your camera's shutter speed, this reaction time can affect how quickly you can freeze high-speed action for a photo. To eliminate this factor, you'd need a trigger to help cut down or even eliminate that reaction time. We discovered the following trigger ideas in our research:

  • Another person who isn't operating the camera can act as a spotter, notifying you just before something comes into frame. This could be useful when capturing a skier who's about the swoop around a sharp corner, for example. Your spotter can watch for the skier while you focus on framing the shot. Then, when your spotter calls out to you, you can react before you even see the skier yourself.
  • You can purchase a light beam tripwire to trigger your camera -- the beam registers the subject's movement and triggers the camera, taking the human lag time out of the equation. At Popular Photography's Web site, PopPhoto.com, photographer Scott Linstead described how he used an infrared tripwire and a super-fast flash to capture award-winning photos of wildlife in midair. The devices Linstead used will set you back a bit, though: The Phototrap Model 33 tripwire device will run you about $460, and each Nikon Speedlight could cost up to several hundred dollars, depending on the model you use [source: Linstead].

To wrap up our countdown, our last tip is the most important thing to consider when it comes to capturing great high-speed photos.