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)

  • Mark Houston

    Looks more like a AD for ProFoto, Hassleblad and Yuri’s “Custom Steady Cam Monopod” thing. But it is also (to me, at least ) interesting to see how other photographers create a image.

  • Amadeusz Leonardo Juskowiak

    “Hasselblad has 1 second shutter delay” – seriously!? This is huge disadvantage (for MF action shots) if true…

  • Alexy Frangieh

    who said that with such power you can’t do long exposures, or bulbs????

  • Lensworx

    two words, OH DEAR.

    lets see him try this sitting on the side of a hill. One pass, one chance and there really is no need for flash.

  • SaveTheWorldGetTheGirl

    My favorite part of the video is that ONE guy they didn’t get a release for…

  • Amadeusz Leonardo Juskowiak

    Just done some reaserch (googled) – leaf shutter in lens and sensor sleep are responsible for shutter lag in MF cameras, however you may disable sensor sleep for action shots (at least in Phase One cameras).

  • Amadeusz Leonardo Juskowiak

    Exactly – bit more power (he got two Cayenne, 10kW more of flash shouldn’t be a problem), smaller aperture (for proper sky exposure), exposure time like 1/20s (which is kinda long), flash sync on laser/motion trigger, result – always perfect shot of jet.

  • W Jastrzębski

    Easier would be to take shot in hangar and paste into the background:)

  • Amadeusz Leonardo Juskowiak

    No fun there ;)

  • Bryan Decker

    Agreed! I am betting it was the guy he yelled at earlier that was in his shot . . . and was later fired.

  • W Jastrzębski

    yes, good fun must cost a lot:)

  • Steve Grob

    It’s an interesting idea, but the only thing I see accomplished here is a proven point. Not to be negative, but it seems more like a publicity thing or a “how big can we do it” thing than photography.

  • Alex

    Part of me finds this incredibly annoying. And then part of me remembers this is a micro stock photographer shooting a publicity stunt.

  • Alex

    He was proving a point if you had read the article.

  • Bruce

    You guys should really do your research – this same technique was done int eh late eighties for a National Geographic shoot. This is NO BIG DEAL.

  • jj


  • Alex

    Somewhat annoying at all the brand placement in the video. I could as easily done the shot with a bunch of Speedotron packs with capacitor banks like we used to light sports areas.

  • Mantis

    Welcome to Petapixel!

    Where everybody in the comment section can do it better than the person who actually shot the photo.

  • Corwin Black

    I would probably use Leica S with leaf shutter lenses they have. Tho that said it isnt true MF (smaller sensor).

    But yep, nice pic, very expensive way of doing it. :D

  • Eugene Chok

    trying to fly a plane after being hit in the face with 30K watts of strobe in the face… AHHHhhhhh

  • Eugene Chok

    haha yuri has some serious bankroll

  • Sum_it

    Surprised it took Yuri that long to figure that higher success rate will come from following the plane first. Still a very tough thing to do. Good experiment if you have a lot of gear, money, and manpower.

  • bgrady413

    I guess asking “Why?” may be missing the point of the exercise?

  • harumph


  • Fuzztograper

    What exactly is the technical or engineering limitation that causes a shutter delay of an ENTIRE SECOND?! And how do Hasselblad actually manage to sell such absurdly crippled cameras?

    Also, the Nikon D40, D50 and D70 can sync flash at 1/3200th with a remote, non-TTL flash. Oops.

    …yes, I’m (half) joking.

  • Burnin Biomass

    Didn’t O. Winston Link fairly much prove this concept long ago? Yea, steam trains moved slower, but its the same idea. I think what Link did was harder because of technology, and the fact he made really cool complicated scenes.

  • Cinekpol

    Hassel doesn’t make sports camera. What they did is basically like using AA-less camera for fashion photography – far from perfect tool for the job. Never the less – reliable fast sync speed was essential here and no DSLR can offer that.

  • Guest


  • Cinekpol


  • Barry MacKenzie

    Was that Walt Jr. sitting in the back of the jet??

  • A.J.

    What’s wrong with self-promotion?

  • Adi Ulici

    Here, Sir, have my Vote Up :)

  • Carl Meyer

    It has been done before.

    A novelty would be installing remote flash lights and various camera on a second aircraft flying along the first one, that would give some interesting pictures with incredible detail.

  • Mantis

    How many times have you done it?

  • jrconner

    Somewhere, old Doc Edgerton is smiling. I think he would have approved and applauded.

  • harumph

    Nothing at all. I was just giving the reason for doing something like this. I didn’t say there was anything wrong with it. It’s what we as photographers do.

  • MickO

    Anything that reddit ridicules is worthwhile in my book.

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  • hr

    it does have such limitations, this guy, must have been using it for the first time!

  • hr

    and it had to be done on film or max on polaroid!

  • hr

    is this a joke? It does seems like he is an amateur playing with expensive toys. Somebody should do one of those youtube video, what is wrong with this in 8 minutes.

  • wtf

    Please correct me if I’m way off base, but what was the point of this exercise? Using a camera that offers nothing in this setting, except the ergonomics of its hand grip, which by the looks of it must’ve come in handy by the end of the loooong shoot day it took to ‘prove the point’… What’s wrong with lighting jets with, say, the sun?? I suppose when you need to prove the point that light does travel in earth’s atmosphere in a fairly predictable manner, you can’t go wrong, right?

  • Przypek

    Silly….Sill….Silly, just another example of only operating under the strict confines of your comfort or experience zone. Give me four 18k pars, a 1000 amp genny and a 4k Phantom shooting 500 fps and we’ll see just how silly all those little flash units are!

  • Lee

    But he forgot the pop up flash!!! (laughing)

  • Sterling

    So is his name spelled wrong in the article or at the start of the video?

  • ss

    seriously! why lug all that equipment? seems he chose a completely inefficient way of achieving that to prove a point that isn’t really interesting.

  • Glrisley

    Why not just go with continuous lighting, like a 4 x 10K HMI lights?

  • Bruno Inácio

    even more crazy is the slow focus system!
    pzzzzz, pzzzzz, pzzzzz, pzzzz..
    can you please turn on a 800w tungsten to help the focus?
    pzzzz, pzzzzz..

    i love medium format digital backs.
    (i’m not joking)

  • Pro_shovler

    Wow, Not saying I could do a better job, but using a wrecking ball to kill a fly for this shot. I see these stunts, that seem interesting at face value and leave you utterly disappointed.
    I always enjoy seeing the BTS to see how they got the shot, but really? Seems way to overkill to get that shot,at least to me. Great way to keep your sponsors happy I guess and promote your self made gear.

    Seems like total BS and a waste of resources.

  • some_like_me_hot

    Great inspiration for my next promotional shot.
    I am going to use a rocket ship to get my aerial views