High speed

Most cameras have a shutter release time of around 1/1000 of a second. High end SLR cameras now come with 1/4000 of a second and some can even do 1/8000 of a second. That short time interval can really freeze things in their place. But you are really limited in how much light reaches the sensor/film with such a short exposure. Usually you can only use these shutter speeds in bright daylight.

Another problem, is that sometimes 1/8000 just isn’t fast enough to freeze the action. Really fast action will still have motion blur on the edges and a clear image is not possible. So how do you freeze something that fast in a dark setting?

White light with alot of control

With a strobe.

When you get hit in the eyes with a camera flash, it will look like the strobe lasted for a good full second or so. But this is not the case. You eyes get the after glow effect from intense light which will blind you momentarily. The truth of the matter is that the strobe is faster than the shutter. This is why strobe lights must be timed with the shutter. Many cameras will have a specific flash setting that will set the shutter to 1/125 of a second or so. This is to make sure that the shutter is fully open before the strobe is fired, and does not start to close until the strobe is finished. If the strobe and shutter are out of sync, you will be left with a very dark section on the top or bottom of the frame.

The great thing about modern off camera strobes, is that you can set the intensity by power rating. a 1/64 burst of the strobe will be somewhere around 1/10000 of a second worth of light. This is much faster and more intense than using a fast shutter speed.

This video shows the process used for taking some high speed shots with many cameras in the room. With a single camera setup, this would not be as difficult to achieve.