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Laser and white light speckle photography have been used to observe surface displacement in a number of materials and over a varied range of strain rates. However, each suffers from limitations. We have developed a novel application of speckle photography in very difficult environments by using laser-induced fluorescence to generate the speckle pattern. This permits confinement of the free surface without undue degradation of the correlation upon which speckle methods are based. We have applied this method to measure the surface displacement of a reactive material during dynamic deformation at moderate strain rates. Conventional methods were tried but were unsuccessful, necessitating a novel approach. To the best of our knowledge, neither high-speed laser nor white light speckle photography has been performed using energetic materials. These measurements are very difficult because of the low material strength (yield strength ∼8–80 MPa), and because significant out-of-plane motion and surface disruption occur during fracture, and early during the deformation process. We report results from experiments in which these major problems have been overcome. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.