Someone was asking me about flash photography the other day, and I put these images together to help explain, so I thought I would share them here. To get us started, here is a cabinet fan running and we have taken a photo at 1/10s. As you can see, the blades are virtually invisible.
If we increase the shutter speed to 1/200s, we can start to make out the blades.
Jumping up to 1/500s the blades are starting to become defined.
At 1/1000s we are almost there. We can see the blades, but everything still has just a touch of motion blur.
And finally, we get to the flash shot. This is actually taken at 1/160s, but all the light is being provided by a flash, so our shutter speed effectively becomes the duration of that flash. In this case, it is something around 1/10000s. That is fast enough that we have frozen the fan.
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