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Writing with light.
Quite simply, that is the definition of photography.
Whether you are thinking about your favorite family photo of you and your grandma or the sports shot of you running over the hurdles when you were in college, every photo is an image that has been written with light that is captured through a camera. Today’s technology continues to stretch how quickly and how accurately that light is captured. In fact, high speed cameras have reached the point where they are able to recreate images that look completely real.
Shutter and Aperture Work Together to Allow Light to Enter the Camera
When photographers used to study the basic information about how a camera worked, they learned about a pretty small range of shutter speeds and aperture openings. The shutter speeds that started as slow as one second and as fast as 1/1000. The slowest shutter speeds blur, rather than stop, the motion. Those first fast shutter speeds of 1/1000 of a second, however, could stop most action.
And while the shutter controls the amount of light by how long it is open, the aperture controls light by how wide it opens. Often compared to the pupil of the eye in how it works, the aperture openings of past cameras often ranged from f/2 to f/22. If you think about f/2 as the fraction 1/2 and f/22 as the fraction 1/22, it is easy to understand how the aperture works.
Providing the most amount of light, the f/2 setting also creates the most shallow depth of field. At the other end of the aperture settings, f/22 was the smallest opening and let in the least amount of light. The smallest aperture, however, creates the deepest depth of field. Deep depth of field creates photos that have everything in focus; shallow depth of field only has a small amount of focus.
Apertures also determine the speed of a lens. Technically speaking, high speed cameras have larger maximum apertures. These wider apertures let in more light and allow cameras to select faster shutter speeds. These shutter speeds stop more motion and create the memorable pictures that fill publications and internet sites.
Ultrahigh-Speed Cameras Allow for Medical Research
While high speed lenses have larger apertures, ultra high speed cameras are those that capture as many as 100,000 frames per second (FPS) by far. These high speeds are used not only to capture images for entertainment, they are typically used for laboratory research. Used in conjunction with high powered microscopes, these high speed cameras allow researchers to study the size, shape and movement of cells that were previously difficult to study.
Making the decision to purchase a 1000 FPS camera or a faster version is often determined by the intended purpose. The magic of photography, however, is that the very basics of the science of writing with light still apply to the latest advancements. High frame rate cameras continue to advance and so do the purpose that they serve.
Consider some of the photographic advancements and their uses:

  • Early Motion Photography In 1878, Eadward Muybridge in made the first practical application of high-speed photography. His creations included sequence photos of a horse galloping. through his research of motion he solved an old point of discussion. He discovered how and when a horse’s feet moved during the gallop.
  • Later Research In 1950, a U.S. Army engineer Morton Sultanoff invented a super high-speed camera that took frames as fast as one-millionth of a second. This speed was fast enough to record the shock wave of a small explosion.
  • Capturing the Motion of Daily Events Starting in the 1930s, Dr. Harold Edgerton, an MIT professor and inventor, used high speed photography to study and explore the relationship between sound and light. During his experiments he captured the infamous photos of a bullet being shot through an apple and the splash of a drop of milk
  • Future Discoveries The capabilities of high speed cameras to capture the fastest and tiniest of images continues to propel both medical and space research. Certainly not limited to these two fields, the use of high speed cameras is also used in manufacturing as researchers continue to develop more exact production methods.

Writing with light continues to amaze the world!