Make a Monster Splash With High-Speed Flash Photography

Go behind the scenes with photographer Thierry Kuba to observe how he lights, shoots, and edits this high-speed flash project with water splashes. Learn the techniques he uses, listen to discussion of his mistakes, and take in all of his tips and tricks along the way.

High-speed flash photography involves the use of short-duration bursts of light to freeze the motion of subjects that move too quickly to be captured by traditional photography methods. High-speed flash photography allows photographers to capture split-second actions such as water droplets, bursting balloons, or a bullet firing out of a gun by illuminating the subject for an incredibly brief duration. This technique demands precise timing and specialized equipment, including high-speed flash units and triggers to achieve results in freezing fast-paced moments.

High-speed flash photography is exhilarating and something that every photographer should try. You never quite know what the results will look like in terms of photographing water droplets and splashes. It's refreshing to see a bare-all behind-the-scenes video, not just the successful attempts. Thierry's relaxed presentation method during this demonstration shows that he has to throw the liquid time and time again to get the right results. It reminds us that no matter how much experience you have, this is a long process. Each can is positioned at an angle, contributing to a not-so-straightforward lighting scenario, and the reasons for light placement are explained in order to understand the role each light plays on the final shot.

Thierry uses a variety of lighting products within the five-light setup, including speedlights in horizontally placed strip softboxes to the underside and on top at the front, with another speedlight set to the right with a honeycomb grid to add an extra kick of light to the front of the cans. On the background, a Godox AD200 and Godox QT600 light to freeze the splashes as they occur. Both of these lights are covered with an orange gel to add vibrancy to the background.

It seems that one of the most important pieces of equipment here in this setup is sheet plastic to protect your equipment, and also to catch water that has fallen on the floor. This is an excellent tip for beginners because that liquid will go in unexpected places, and as everyone knows, water and electricity don't mix!

Have you tried high-speed flash photography with liquids? Share your experience and the results in the comments.

Kim Simpson's picture

Kim Simpson is a photographer based in the West of Scotland. Her photographic practice is an exploration of the human experience, with a particular emphasis on themes of identity and belonging.

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