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What is Crash Photography?

Lesson 10 from: Capturing Food in Motion

Steve Hansen

What is Crash Photography?

Lesson 10 from: Capturing Food in Motion

Steve Hansen

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Lesson Info

10. What is Crash Photography?

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is crash photography, which involves capturing images of objects colliding or breaking in mid-air at high speeds.


  1. What is the difference between crash photography and splash photography?

    Crash photography involves capturing objects that are moving at high speeds and colliding, while splash photography typically involves capturing liquids being tossed in the air.

  2. What are some examples of subjects for crash photography?

    Examples include broken glass, objects colliding in mid-air, and bullets going through objects.

  3. How can crash photography be done at home?

    Crash photography can be done at home by controlling the debris and ensuring a safe environment. A close-up white acrylic background can be used to capture the crash, and precautions should be taken to protect the camera from shards of glass.

  4. What should be considered when choosing a background for crash photography?

    The background should be placed close to the set to contain debris and allow for sufficient lighting. Options include using white acrylic or white seamless, but care should be taken to avoid damaging the background.

  5. What camera settings are recommended for crash photography?

    The recommended camera settings are ISO 100, 1/250th of a second shutter speed, and an aperture of f/16. This allows for capturing the fast-moving objects with sharpness.

  6. Can shallow depth of field be used in crash photography?

    Shallow depth of field can be experimented with in crash photography to create a blurred effect, but capturing everything in perfect sharpness is often more impressive.

  7. How can opening up the flash light affect the image?

    Opening up the flash light allows more light to enter the lens, resulting in a brighter image. This can be useful for working with smaller strobes and creating a larger light source.

  8. What should photographers be prepared for when doing crash photography?

    Photographers should be prepared for the chaos and the unknown when capturing crash photography. It may take multiple attempts and a lot of broken objects to capture the desired image.

Lesson Info

What is Crash Photography?

Thanks again for everyone being here. It's been a lot of fun. It's gonna be even more fun now that we're gonna be throwing stuff and breaking it. You can't break a liquid, so that's the major thing that differentiates crash photography from splash photography. Also, the primary difference is the fact that you're dealing with things that are coming at each other typically at really high speeds. So, whereas Jack was just tossing the liquid in the air, we had a moment to capture, it wasn't really moving that fast. This is gonna move really fast, and we need to be able to capture that same sharpness in the same way we did the splash photography. So, I'm gonna kinda go over just the basics of what crash photography is. When I'm asked to do a crash image, a lot of the times it's broken glass, it's things colliding in midair. Sometimes it's a bullet going through a beer bottle. That's fast, that's really fast. It happens in motion to where you have to capture high-speed stuff at really high f...

rame rates. That's a whole different class in its own right. But, we're gonna show you, you're gonna be able to have a mastery of how to capture this stuff at home, 'cause this is just as simple in its basic elements as splash photography, and it translates really well to the home as long as you're able to control all the debris that's gonna invariable fly everywhere. So, let's get into it. This is the image I discussed earlier. This is the one that I did on my own with my own two hands. I just purchased tons of peanut butter jars, tons of raspberry jelly jars, and I just had the camera on a timer. And this is white acrylic in the background. Now, it's really hard to say, sometimes I'd use seamless, sometimes I'd use white acrylic, but I have this actually really close up to the set because I used both my lights to get enough light to capture the actual crash, which is really important. So, when you do that, you're somewhat affecting your ability to have a background too far off the back and still have it be bright white. So, you'll notice that my background on set right here is fairly close. That does double duty. It protects debris from flying in one direction, which helps you, you have a safe place to kind of put your flash, or gear, whatever. But, the glass just goes everywhere so you have to control it. We're not actually doing a very good job of controlling it right here. We're gonna let it fly. We're gonna let it go. It's not gonna go too far, but we're gonna be dropping a plate on the ground, and we're gonna be creating a pancake image as if you were dropping a plate of stacked pancakes to the ground and it was crashing on the kitchen floor. So, the tile is acting as our kitchen floor, and that's acting, essentially, as a back wall in a home or something like that. We're creating an environment, but it's very minimalist so we can afford to be very graphic with what's contained within the frame. But, yeah, when you're dropping stuff at high speeds, it's a whole different ballgame, so you have to be really cognizant of the fact that with liquids we can tell it where to go. When we drop a plate, stuff is going to go forward and backward. There is no controlling that, so you will get stuff that is totally blurry coming at your camera. And stuff will hit the camera. Shards of glass will hit the camera, but they'll hit my plexiglass, or my UV filter first. Now, the background, you wanna be careful 'cause I had a white piece of plexi that I used for this image, and it can get damaged pretty quickly with crash photography. It can actually get nicks in it, and all that stuff. And you kinda wanna be careful of that. It's expensive to purchase. You can't really buff those out very much. So, you're kind of in a position. Do you put white seamless behind it and have the glass actually break through the seamless? 'Cause, generally speaking, especially at home, you're gonna have to get the background really close. One, it just contains everything. Two, you're gonna be able to get light on it. So, I have one that's designated. I have a piece of white acrylic in the corner that has just been destroyed. And I use that for a background when I need a high-key background. If you have a third strobe, or you're just using one light to highlight the subject, you can highlight the background from further away, it just takes a lot of power. And flash duration and power are somewhat intertwined. There's some flashes where their shortest flash duration is somewhere in the middle of the power range, I think. And there's some with a braun color, the lower you go, the shorter the flash duration, generally speaking. So, yeah, we're gonna get, this image is gonna take a while. This is gonna be a composited image, and this is gonna be totally different than the last one. The last one we really wanted to get all in one shot except for a few pieces. This one, we want to have happen in Photoshop, and I'm gonna show you how to photograph pancakes exactly the way you want 'em. We're gonna style an egg together over in the food styling station, which is kind of a difficult thing to do, so I wanna make sure you know how to do that if you ever need to. And we're going to style everything, bring it to set, and then place it exactly where we want it. And then Jack is gonna be making notes while we do this. And then we're gonna finish with the broken plate on the ground, 'cause what we don't wanna do is start with the broken plate and trash our set, and make it really dangerous to be on here, and then start getting on our knees trying to get pancakes in the position. You'll notice that I have, so, the set here, and I actually got a question during the break. I do want to address this. My tripod is a Gitzo. This thing can actually go, it's carbon-fiber, it can go all the way to the ground. I can have my camera tilt over and be touching the ground. So, we can get extremely low, and it can get up to seven feet high, give or take. So, it's really versatile. It has no center column. I don't know when I bought it if it had one or not, but I got rid of it 'cause I just don't want that. There's no reason to have it 'cause if you extend the center column up, you're on a monopod, and it's wiggling around, and you're defeating the purpose of your tripod. So, I got rid of that. And I have a Novoflex Ball Head with the macro attachment, which allows me to slide forward and backward, and allows me to pivot. I use it for landscape photography as well, and it's really fun when I do that. It's flexible. It's a really flexible system. I can tilt this way, I can go back, and it doesn't move. It's carbon-fiber, there's no shake. So, I have a protective UV filter on, I have the hood, and I have an 85 millimeter lens. We're gonna be using the same exact settings as I use for the liquid splash. It's same exact, S16, ISO 100, and 250th of a second. You're gonna live there when you do this, essentially. So, there's things you can do. Now, if you wanna do shallow depth of field, you can do that. You can do that, but it tends to be when you capture action, there's something about capturing everything in perfect sharpness that is impressive. Whereas if you have stuff blurring, if you have stuff going away, maybe that's something you pursue. Maybe that becomes your style. So, I wouldn't suggest that you ignore that. Try stuff out. And I'll tell you, when you open up that flash light, that light from the flash, it's gonna be really effective in your camera. It's like bumping up your ISO. So, when you open up, you're letting a lot of light in, which means you can have those smaller strobes hitting a card, and you have a big light source at low power but it's sucking in so much light through the lens, you've got yourself quite a bit of light to work with. So, opening up is something you can explore, but, with this, I love the sharpness. I mean, this image is really neat because of that. You're capturing everything in a moment, and it's a moment that can't be repeated. And, in photography, that's kind of, in food photography that's fleeting because the moments are kinda obvious sometimes. It's just a piece of cake on a plate. I reference the cake all the time, I don't know why. I love cake on a plate. (laughing) But, cake on a plate, you know, you've seen that before. It's something else. This is kind of almost like street photography. We're capturing that moment that won't ever occur again. So, you've gotta be ready to capture it, and you've gotta embrace the chaos a little bit, and be prepared for the unknown 'cause this was just me throwing it together. I got this in one shot, and it took a lot of broken glass and jelly to get that one shot. And I got it earlier in the series, so I got lucky on it. But it's a unique image, and it really lends itself well to a lot of clarity, a lot of saturation, it's punchy.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Food In Motion Lighting Setups

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Capturing Food In Motion Gear List

Ratings and Reviews


This course is so fun to watch! I love how hands-on this course is even while watching it 3000 miles away on the other side of the country. I love how Steve Hansen is like a mad scientist just throwing food everywhere just to capture the "right moment". It's great to watch a professional at work especially the behind-the-scenes that we normally won't ever know just by look at the final product. It's amazing how much work goes into this and actually gets me excited to try my hands on capturing food in motion as well - first need to find a place that allows me to get it messy :D I do prefer this type of course set up than the lecture-style some of the other courses are.

Christy cwood56

This course will NOT disappoint! So much quality info that can really help a photographer move to the next level. To see the actual shoots with food flying everywhere and how to capture all of it and turn it into an incredibly stunning image is worth every penny of the price tag. To spend an afternoon with Steve on a one to one basis would cost more than most of us could afford but that is exactly what this class offers! We see into the mind of an incredible artist and his creative process. This class has been invaluable to my personal education as a photographer. There is so much here and I will continually come back to it again and again to learn and refine my techniques and images. You opened up a world of possibilities to me with this class! Thanks Steve!!!

a Creativelive Student

I attended this class in person and I found it to be wonderful. Steve is awesome at what he does and he is great at explaining what he is doing and why he is doing it. This course will lay out all the steps needed to help you create awesome splash and crash photography. I highly recommend it.

Student Work