Since the iconic images of a moving galloping race horse were revealed in 1887 by English photographer Eadweard Muybridge, high-speed photography has come on in leaps and bounds. Multiple cameras are no longer needed to capture motion, just one, usually hideously expensive, camera is required (and some fancy equipment).
High-speed photography allows us to view things that ordinarily move too quickly for us register as a single image. Everyday events such as a drop of water falling into a bowl are suddenly transformed into liquid sculpture. Beauty and art replace the mundane.
Those who specialise in high-speed photography are masters of patience. Trying to capture the perfect shot takes some setting up, and although there are various ways to catch the images, seemingly frozen in time, many photographers have their own personal technique, which they guard closely. The most common technique is to use high-speed flashes with quick shutter times. The images are often then polished up in Photoshop, or some digital imaging package, but only the background and shadows are manipulated, the actual fluid shape is left untouched.
Water is often used in high-speed photography, as are other fluids, which are capable of producing infinite organic shapes, depending on how the photographer has set up the shot. Some photographers use specific equipment such as pipettes and drip feeders; others taint the fluid with color, resulting in sometimes strong and impressive images like these by Sony World Photography Awards (SWPA) 2008 finalist, Vladimir Nefedov.
Vladimir is a recognized authority in the field of high-speed photography and once managed the professional photographic studio, Prozess in his native Russia. He says on his website (in Russian, so roughly translated):
“There is not yet a technique that could embody what occurs inside of us, and science has not thought up how to photograph dreams or happiness. Art of a photo is an attempt of visualization [of these things], made possible by manipulation of the images, given to us in the objective world and in sensations, they are then fixed using a camera, producing something imperceptible and unique...”
UPDATE: After writing this post, Vladimir got in touch with us and kindly offered a few words to be added to the article:
"If water and temporary life are inseparable, if eternal life for the person begins with immersion in water, don't you agree that it would be rather strange for the Creator not to have decorated its main substance with gorgeous forms. A snowflake and an iceberg, a forest brook and Niagara, puddles on asphalt and storm surf - this is all the glory of water, perceived with our noble eyesight. And it is impossible to imagine that in the sphere of imperceptible it can suddenly deplete."
"Plus, photography, as a natural piece of art, not suffocated with corset of aesthetics is always primaeval and will be always finding its authors and viewers. Modern technologies only multiply the freedom of photographer if they are applied as instruments and do not end in themselves."
Vladimir Nefedov opens to us in a new way unimaginable forms created by the falling drop. In a number of these images, someone will be dazzled with subject associations, someone with Japanese elegance of contemplative "design", others with a mysterious unrecognisable space.
Red in White
For your chance to enter the Sony World Photography Awards 2009, read our previous entries: Timon and Pumbaa and Environmental Graffiti Partners with Sony World Photography Awards. The closing date for Prince's Rainforest Project Awards has been extended to February 28, 2009.
Thanks go again to Vladimir! He has a new website coming soon.
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