XDrive Photography Learning – 19 -High-Speed Photography.

Here is my contribution to Raj’s High-Speed Post. Please take a moment read through it and check out the other contributions by following the “XDrivePhoto” tag. There are a lot of great examples to see! Trust me, you will be inspired:)

First off – let me take you back to the summer.  These Black Terns were incredibly fast and agile. At first, they were not happy that I was so close to their feeding grounds that they were diving and swooping at my head. Truth is, I was a little scared intimidated and I almost went back to my car. But then I put my hat on and stepped outside to see if I could capture the action. (I was thinking they would attack my hat and not my head!) Very challenging!!  I couldn’t focus, zoom in or out fast enough. Hundreds of pictures later, there was one “keeper”. After a while, they began to settle down and ignore me. I was able to “drop” my shutter speed down to 1/640 sec and pan with their movements to capture the photo on the right. I was hoping to get them diving into the water but their movements were so abrupt and quick that I couldn’t follow them (maybe this year I will get lucky.)

Here are a pair of Cormorants. They often have their whole bodies under water with just their long necks and head protruding out. (They remind me of a lochness monster when I see them.) It takes them a bit to get out of the water.  At 1/2500sec, you can see where their flight path began and that they are just getting some air. All things considered, they are still pretty fast.


1/2500 sec, f 7.1, ISO 400, 226mm


Inspired by one of Helen’s posts , I took these pictures during the Christmas break. I used a flash to freeze the motion so I am not sure if they count for high speed. I have a lot to learn in this area. I manually focused on a pen in the center of the cup. The mixture is actually a little bit of flour and water being dropped by a spoon from above. A lot of these pictures didn’t turn out. I missed the drop, the camera was buffering, the drop landed in areas that weren’t covered by my f-stop? Both were taken at 49mm, 1/200 sec, f7.1.

It was a very messy, entertaining way to spend a few hours inside. I also didn’t notice the large glob of gunk that was accumulating on the cup until after I uploaded the photos. I would like to try this again. Maybe with a black cup. I think the cream splash might stand out better. Suggestions welcome.

That’s it for now. 🙂

9 thoughts on “XDrive Photography Learning – 19 -High-Speed Photography.

  1. Great post Shutterbug, high-speed photography always a challenge.

    Pic 1: The shot you captured is almost like a fighter jet diving at you, a scary moment really. 1/1250 sec able to freeze the motion. Also, think about the picture with motion blurred wings but the sharp body which you can achieve with slower shutter speeds. That will be interesting shot too. Also needed some more close up.

    Pic 2: The panning shot able to get you a sharp image even though you were at not so fast shutter speeds. Nice isolation of the subject from the background. Still lesser shutter speed could have given the background blur which is going to add the speed component. Bird could have been given some more space in the flying direction.

    Pic 3: A great shot here! Footprints still available after the takeoff, fantastic catch!!. Great composition too. But all the of three pictures I feel you could have brightened a bit? Looks a stop underexposed.

    Pic 4: Great try to catch the splash, yes it’s a messy business. 1/200 sec kind of too slow for these shots. But results say a different story, it looks like you did good capturing the splash sharp. If your flash allows “high-speed sync” then you can go higher shutter speeds. But then its very difficult to shoot at burst mode when you have to wait for the flash to load power unless you have strobes to fire the flash. That’s the reason why I did not choose the flash but just used available sunlight in my post. However, I would like to try with flash again. If you have remote flash fire from the opposite direction so that kind of sidelight or backlight is done. Also, use a syringe to shoot water as that would render a better splash.

    This comment is as part of XDrive’s photography learning sessions. Thank you, shutterbug, for your valuable post here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Raj. For some reason the pictures looked a tad darker after I uploaded them on to WP. (shrugging my shoulders).I am hoping to try more panning shots this summer. As well I have a lot of practice to do with ‘filling my frame’ and not relying on cropping. This was the first year birding so I still have a lot to learn. I will definitely be trying to lessen the shutter speed to create a more effective blur. I love the pictures when the wing tips are blurred but I haven’t been able to accomplish this too many times. (I think twice out of thousands 😊)
      I’ll have to reread Helen’s post in regards to the high speed sync function. I couldn’t figure out how to work it on my flash. And thanks so muck for the suggestion of a syringe and the placement of the light source. These were side lit with a piece of aluminum foil in the front right to eliminate the shadows. Most of the drops were out of focus and just a handful were sharp.
      Thanks for the feedback and the opportunity to share. Always a pleasure! Hope you have a fabulous day 😊


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