This week’s theme is one of my favorite effects: Freeze Motion Photography; also known as High Speed Photography. This great technique allows you to stop a moving object at a single instant in time, yielding a stunning visual effect.

The hair flick//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

In this shot, the camera captures the instant that the model flicks her hair back, such that you can see individual water droplets frozen in time. While it’s a relatively simple shot to take, the effect is mesmerizing.

There are a couple of different methods for freezing motion. The easiest method is to simply use a fast shutter speed, such as 1/1000 of a second. Because the shutter speed is so fast, it tends to freeze the subject at one instant of time. This technique is relatively easy to do, and does not require any special equipment— you can use most any camera.

To take these type of shots, you’ll typically want to use “Shutter Priority” mode, which is “Tv” on Canon, and Mode “S” on Nikon— these modes allow you to select the exact shutter speed that you want. More advanced users can opt for Manual mode.

Umbrella Levitation//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

One simple, fun option is known as “jump levitation”. This photo was relatively easy to shoot: The model jumped with the umbrella, and I snapped the picture at the same time. If done right, it gives the illusion of floating in the air.

There are countless great shots that can be taken this way— a baseball leaving a pitcher’s hand, a bird flying, someone splashing in a puddle. Use your imagination.

The second, more advanced method is to use a camera flash to stop the motion. Modern camera flashes use extremely short bursts of light— in the range of 1/10,000 of a second! While it takes a bit more setup, this method allows you to work indoors (where there is less light), and produces razor-sharp results.

For this method, you should shoot in a dark location— either outside at night, or in a dark room. The only light should be from the flash. Because the flash is so fast, you capture that exact moment in time, with no motion blur. Following are a couple of examples.


Water droplet shots can produce amazing results. To create shots like this, fill a shallow pan with water, and use a medicine dropper to create the splash. Adding a brightly colored background (which reflects onto the water) and/or adding food coloring to the water can make the shot even more interesting.

As a final example, taking photographs with talcum powder is relatively easy, and looks great. This image was created by flicking two makeup brushes together, and shooting the small cloud of talc.

Talc in Motion//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

One last note is that these shots require a lot of trial and error. You might need a dozen (or more) shots until you get the timing just right. (For example, I selected my favorite talc shot from more than 100 attempts.) Don’t give up! Remember, digital pictures are free: Just keep trying a bunch of different times until you get something you like.

Good luck!


The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org and #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

This special edition PhotoChallenge was written by our guest and member of the 2016 PhotoChallenge, Eric Minbiole. We hope you enjoyed it. We surely loved it and want to extend our thanks to Eric for his participation. You can enjoy Eric’s online images at https://www.flickr.com/photos/eminbiole

If you want to share your Special Challenge with your fellow members, contact Trevor, Gary or Steve.

About Steve Troletti

I'm a Location Scout, Editorial, Nature, Wildlife and Environmental Photographer based in Malibu, California. I specialize in Nature and Urban Nature photography including Infrared Landscapes. The Bulk of my work takes place in the Los Angeles, California area, Greater Montreal Region, Canada, Switzerland, France and Varese in Northern Italy. Ethical wildlife photography is the main priority and focus of my work. A minimum disturbance of the animals, their habitat and the environment is my top priority. This applies as much to total wilderness areas as it does to urban nature environments. Ongoing education of environmental issues and building awareness for the protection of wildlife and wilderness areas around the world is what drives me to document the beauty that surrounds us.