How Do You Photograph a Jet Flying 300-400mph? Throw 30,000W of Flash at It!

Yuri Arcurs, the world’s top-selling microstock photographer, will go to great lengths to prove he’s right, and the video above is a great case in point for that. He wanted to prove that he could flash freeze a fighter jet at full speed, and he got that shot. All he needed was approximately 30,000W of fill flash… no big deal.

For those unfamiliar with how studio lighting usually works, 30,000W is as much as 100 times more flash than you’re going to typically use in a regular studio setting. So much flash power is being thrown at this jet that the people on the ground can actually feel the heat from the lights.

Apparently, the project started as “a heated in-house discussion about flash speeds [and] ended up becoming a rather BIGGGG experiment…” An experiment that ended with Arcurs getting his shot and proving his point:


And lighting wasn’t even the only challenge Arcurs had to overcome. Many commenters on both YouTube and Reddit ridiculed his choice to use a Hasselblad because of its crazy long shutter delay. Arcurs responded to critics on YouTube by saying:

Reasoning for using the Hassy: 1/800s sync speed over 1/200-1/250s sync for Nikon/Canon. I can plan my way out of a shutter delay, but not a slow sync speed.

So what do you think? Was this just overkill, or as one Redditor put it, “highly impractical and underwhelming”? Or did you enjoy Arcurs’ video and think the final shot was worth the trouble? Also, how would you have approached this challenge differently? Let us know in the comments down below.

(via Reddit)

  • Four Letter Nerd

    The vid stated 4 different values for the total wattage. Makes me wonder what else they got wrong. DL Cade, petapixel’s trusty scribe, got the wattage right. The value he chose was the best one for click bait.

  • Sean Nel

    Nothing new in the concept… flash speed (flash duration) displays can be done with anything from a tennis ball to a bullet…

    BUT… it is imaginative, and I bet it wont be too long before we see something like Joe McNally’s Stealth Plane shot, but in the air…

    I don’t think anybody has done this before, so as a “first” proof of concept, I think it’s bloody marvellous. Pretty sure we will see more and better solutions using the same basic ideas, just larger and larger scales, and with faster packs (like B4’s or B1’s)

    Lots of Negative comments, but I also see more than a few photographers going “…I wonder… if we take one of these…”

    It may be controversial, but for damn sure it’s inspiring!

  • uberboxer

    I must be missing something here. Autosports photographers capture high speed autos all day long, they are skilled at tracking motion, it’s a lot harder than it looks. Granted the jet is moving faster. But why on earth would Yuri try this with a Hassleblad instead of say a Canon 1Dx. He is a talented photographer, this has my head scratching on camera selection.

  • Scott

    Read the article. Note the sync speed section.

  • photo570

    What a load of rubbish!!!!

    Let me explain, I own a hassleblad H1, use it with a Leaf AptusII5, and whilst it is no Canon 1DX, it does not have a one second shutter delay, it is user selectable ranging from 50ms to 200ms, to compensate if you are experiencing problems with mirror slap.

  • Gondwana

    Some fast flash sync, but acceptably wide angle for this shooting? Even a cheapo Fuji X100 would have done it well! (Not to mention X100s…) As I see, they at least had a great party while shooting this.

  • ADWheeler

    Yuri builds 1700, four foot tall bonfires along an active runway to light the jet as it passes. Yuri must start 4 hours before the plane takes off in order to time his cave painting exactly. This whole article wreaks. Headline says 30,000watts, yet the video states 24,000 watts at 2:12. My Sony a99 shoots High speed sync flash with no shutter lag. This was nothing more the a fu***** commercial. #EPICFAIL

  • Fenix Fotography

    Winston O. Link was doing complicated lighting involving dozens (if not hundreds) of flash BULBS to light scenes and fast moving trains in the 1950s. Basically this is the same principle.

    Link’s stuff was far more interesting.

  • Jason

    I wish they would just black out all of the fence, lights, and blown out areas on the ground. It’s so distracting from this awesome photograph!