…Moment by moment
French photographer Marc Riboud says “Taking pictures is savouring life intensely, every hundredth of a second”, and this sentiment is never more accurate than when we look at high-speed photography. There’s something particularly special about capturing a sight that would otherwise go unseen by the human eye; taking a motion and holding it still in a perfectly frozen moment.
Pioneers like Eadweard Muybridge and Peter Salcher produced the first and arguably most iconic examples of high-speed photography. In the 19th century, Muybridge’s first motion studies explored the movement of animals and people in a way the world had never seen before; while Salcher, a physicist, was the first person to capture an image of a bullet in flight, and the air waves caused by its supersonic speed. These famous shots paved the way for contemporary photographers, and the early techniques have been fine-tuned over the years to create the most magnificent images of moments frozen in time. Here’s a look at some of my favourite contemporary examples of high speed photography.
Faster than a Speeding Bullet
Dr Gary S. Settles of Penn State University has experimented with high-speed bullet photography since the 80s. A long-time follower of Schlieren photography techniques, which capture the motion and flow of various fluids, Dr Settles has done a great deal of work in the field of flow visualization. He has documented the impact of .22 caliber bullets passing through a wide range of liquid and solid objects – from Pepsi cans to playing cards.
Fabian Oefner of Zurich created a gorgeous series titled Dancing Colors, which made moments of sound visible. Oefner used handfuls of multi-colored salt to cover a thin sheet stretched across a loud speaker, and photographed the salt grains as they vibrated to the music. The result was an explosion of color and dynamic energy – looking at the images you can practically hear the beat of the music.
Ohio-based photographer Jim Kramer uses a selection on liquids like cream, milk and glycerin to capture fantastic “droplet shots” – splashes of liquid captured instant by instant, forming unique and beautiful shapes. He drops the liquids onto black or white mirrored glass so each shape is reflected. No two of Kramer’s amazing liquid sculptures are alike.
Have you seen a high-speed image lately that really captured your imagination? I’d love to hear about it, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.