Photo Anatomy: the secret to one man’s cracking high-speed photography

Photo Anatomy: the secret to one photographer's cracking high-speed photography

In our Photo Anatomy series on Digital Camera World we select pictures by famous photographers and explain point by point what makes them work.

In our latest instalment, we dissect the tasty high-speed photography of Dan Newton, who’s amazing picture of an egg caught at the moment it shattered has all the ingredients of a fantastic shot!

Photo Anatomy: the secret to one photographer's cracking high-speed photography

Image copyright Dan Newton

Dan used multiple speedlights 
at 1/128th power to freeze the action with 1/40,000 sec flashes, rather than a fast shutter speed. A high ISO yielded decent depth of field in these conditions.

Careful set up
In a darkened room, Dan used an open velvet-lined box to cut reflections, with glass on top. Nikon SB-800 speedlights provided the only lighting and Dan wore protective clothing.

The timing was perfect. “I lucked out with the explosion of the egg,” Dan admits. “It was really difficult to get the yolk right, but after going through many eggs, I finally got one I was happy with.”

The explosion
Dan set up an audio trigger to catch the explosion, which fired the flashes when it sensed a loud noise. A pellet gun was used to destroy the egg, which sounds like great fun!

Correct exposure
A poor exposure would ruin this shot. Dan nailed it using a Nikon D3 with a Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens at 200mm to get a safe distance away, setting his camera to Bulb, f/8 and ISO640.

We say
“At £500, audio triggers aren’t cheap, so many photographers make their own. Unless you’re seriously into strobe photography or electronics, you may want to save yourself some money by honing your high-speed skills shooting things like water or milk droplets. You’ll need a flash, a pipette and plenty of patience!”
Chris Rutter, technique editor


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