High Speed Photography – How It’s Done

Today, a few classmates and I experimented with high speed photography during May Term in our “In the Blink of an Eye” photography course. We used two DLSR cameras so we could capture images at different angles. The DSLRS used were a Nikon D3300 and a Canon 80d which were both mounted on tripods. In high speed photography, having a still camera is crucial for a good picture.

The settings used on the cameras were a shutter speed set at BULB and an aperture of 5.6. We then mounted an Altura Flash to a Vanguard Monopod. We had the flash and the cameras pointed at a table with a black cloth covering it. Also, we had a black velvet backdrop that was clamped to the wall behind the table. Attached to the table was a sensor which then had a wire that ran to the flash. The role of the sensor was that when a loud noise was heard it would trigger the flash to go off. We placed various fruits on the table and one of us stood behind with a hammer. We created a system to have efficient shooting of the fruit. First, someone would turn off the light switch when both the people operating the cameras were ready. Once the light had been turned off, the shutters of the two cameras would be released by the people operating them. Once this was done, the cameramen would then tell the person behind the table to strike the fruit. The loud noise of the hammer would trigger the sensor making one single flash. After the flash was made, the cameramen then closed the shutter. The lights could then have been turned off after that. The reason why it was crucial to have a dark room was because when the cameras were set to bulb, no light was getting in when the shutter was opened. When the sensor was triggered it allowed light to enter the camera at the exact same moment as when the hammer made contact with the fruit. This made it so the only image registered by the camera was that event. This process led to some very interesting pictures and I am excited to do this tomorrow again.unnamed-1.jpgunnamed.jpg

National Geographic Your Shot Community

National Geographic has a great community site for sharing photography. I know there are many of these sites out there, but Nat Geo Your Shot by far has been the most influential to me. I have used the site for the past 2 1/2 years, and in that time and gotten great feedback from other photographers on my work. My favorite part about National Geo Your Shot are the assignments. I think it’s very easy for me to get caught up in taking only wildlife photography, which is a passion of mine. The assignments and stories part of the site let the editors give an assignment for photographers like myself to submit photographs to that fit a particular theme.  I have enjoyed challenging myself on themes just as “The Gift of Life”, “Invisible Worlds” and “Facing your Fears”, After the editors close the entry period, they craft a story that is then published. I love reading these stories and seeing which photographs made the final cut. I haven’t earned this yet, but I hope to keep submitting my photographs, as my goal is to someday be part of a published story.

What has been really wonderful for me is to be selected as an “editor favorite”. These are special shout-outs from the editors for liking my submission, and some of these shots may have been at least considered for a published piece. The fact that a few of my photos were liked have kept me excited about trying to become better at my work. An even bigger plus is when an editor leaves a comment. For me, that is the best thing that can happen, as I know that a professional who liked my work took the time to let me know that.

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National Geographic Your Shot also just added a “follow” feature, which allows a photographer to follow another photographer’s work. I do not have a large following at all, but the fact that 8 people decided to keep track of my work is a great start and something I think I hope to improve on.  There’s no catch. It’s free, and for a high school student like me, the feedback is priceless.

Centre ValBio

Centre ValBio is an amazing world class research facility on the edge of Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar. It’s under the direction  and leadership of primatologist Dr. Patricia Wright. This was home base for us as we travelled and learned in Madagascar. We were lucky to be so close to Dr. Wright and where she does her research. Dr. Wright taught us quite a bit about the Centre, its mission, and even let us see some of her current research on bones.

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A view from CVB
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A Chabert Vanga perched on a tree near the balcony of CVB
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A view of CVB from the balcony of our dorms
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One of many large spiders hanging around the walls of CVB
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Just a short hike from CVB
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Dr. Patricia Wright, director of Centre ValBio