"The Godox Ving is my speed light of choice"
So I have just had my first ever attempt at high speed flash photography, and I have to say that it is much harder than I was led to believe. After investing in a sensor at a bargain price I have to say (50% off), and watching the suggested manufacturer tutorials on Youtube I thought I would be able to get a decent shot or two but it appears I was wrong.
I wasn’t expecting high speed photography to be easy, nothing in the world of photography ever is, and if high speed photography were easy there would be far more “awesome” high speed photos across the internet as more people would have a go at it, but I wasn’t expecting high speed photography to be such a challenge.
The manufacturer’s video clearly demonstrated everything I needed to do with my new sensor to get great high speed shots, and showed everything from demonstrating how the sensors work to the gear I need for a particular shot to setting up the shot and then finally capturing the photo. Everything looked pretty straight forward, and whilst I didn’t have the $300 water dropper machine I thought I would be able to cobble something together or use some vegetables lurking around in the fridge to dunk instead. I watched the video a few times over, making a few notes and then went to my home studio (aka a dark corner in the garage) to try and snap some high speed shots of the vegetables being dropped in to the watery grave.
The video clearly showed the sensors triggering the external speed lights, and in the absence of anything else I also thought the sensor triggered the camera shutter too. Based on my assumption I connected the sensor to my camera’s shutter release cable connection jack, put my Yongnuo TX on my camera’s hot shoe and then put my Godox speed lights (read a review here) on to a Yongnuo 622 flash trigger (read a review here). Before anything else I tested the setup breaking the laser light with my hand. The sensor beeped, the camera’s shutter clicked and both speed lights flashed all at the same time so everything was sorted and working as it should, or so I thought……….
With the set up almost complete it was time to dial in the settings, and using the recommendations on the video I set the camera in manual mode, dialled in an aperture of f11 (to get a good depth of field) and a shutter speed of 1/250 (the flashes max sync speed) at ISO 100 (for the best quality). The speed lights were set at 1/64 power and they were placed within touching distance of the glass of water to make sure I lit everything correctly.
The first drop the slice of cucumber I decided to use broke the laser beam, the camera’s shutter clicked and the speed lights flashed. Perfect. Looking forward to the “awesome” photo I had just captured I went over to the camera to check the back of the LCD screen, and what I saw was very disappointing as it comprised the very top edge of the slice of cucumber and nothing else. Hmmm……..
It was obvious I needed to raise sensor higher above the water level, which is what I did. I re-set everything and tried again, and again, and again. Dropping the cucumber so high above the water meant it often went off course and missed the laser beam and didn’t trigger the camera and it often landed outside my pre-focused area rendering a soft photo. In addition to this the water looked grey and murky rather than crystal clear and the images looked terrible. Out of the very few I did manage to get in the centre of the frame the quality was poor.
Over the space of two hours (the time until the speed light batteries decided to give up the ghost) and a few hundred shots I changed things around, adjusted settings etc. to get a good high speed photo and the number of decent photos I managed to capture was zero. For all my time and effort the best photo was:-
"submerged cucumber" - Have to say I was not overly impressed with this.
I am clearly doing something wrong here, although I have yet to discover what it is. Hmmmm….. I know photography is meant to be tricky and there is a learning curve but right at this moment in time I think the learning curve for this is going to be too much for me and I don’t know if I have the time and inclination to sort it. If I can button down exactly where I went wrong I will give high speed photography a good go, but if I can’t………… I am at a loss and don’t know what I’ll do. Oh well.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.