- Set up your camera on a tripod a few metres from the ‘impact zone’ (ground, wall or other) and set the shutter speed to the fastest possible for the available light. Focus your lens manually on the ‘impact zone’. Take a few shots to make sure the exposure is spot on.
- Now ask an assistant (standing out of shot) to drop or throw your object onto the impact zone where you’ve nailed focus. (They may need to wear protective glasses depending on your choice of object.) Take your shot.
- Review your photo. How was your timing? Is the shutter speed fast enough? Should you increase your ISO?
- Try again…and again…
- Review your images.
You should have a variety of images that show the frozen movement. However, this project doesn’t just illustrate the effect of a fast shutter speed, but also the significance of chance in photography. Even if you photographed the same kind of object ten times, the resultant images would all show subtly different results. This is one of the reasons why photographers invariably shoot a lot of exposures.
This exercise also shows how a ‘planted’ object can alter the interpretation of the environment. All juxtapositions have this effect, but usually in subtler degrees.
I have really enjoyed this project. My friend and I had a lot of fun that afternoon, and he was very patient with me making adjustments to the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I did not have my tripod with me that day, and I really wanted to try to catch water as a ball in the air, so my friend burst the balloons with a pin and his hands are in shot. If we get the chance to do this again then we will use a pin on a stick so that it will be easier to remove in developing. We had 50 balloons, so at 5 frames per second I took 250 photos. I used manual focus throughout.
ISO 5000, f6, 1/8000th sec
ISO 8063, f5.6, 1/8000th sec
ISO 6400, f4.5, 1/6400th sec
ISO 100, f6.3, 1/40th Sec
ISO 100, f7.1, 1/20th sec
ISO 320, f4.8, 1/500th sec
I have included the last photo to demonstrate that in freezing fast-moving objects there is a lot of chance involved, however there are ways to mitigate it. Good communication with the person helping you. Taking the time to set the camera up before each shot. Using continuous exposure – I could try with my Fujifilm 9900 which has 12 frames per second, and for something like this the loss of image quality would not matter. We did try to use fruit juice to colour the water, but the balloon needed to be filled with pressure from a tap. Every time I tried to add fruit juice the ballon would spurt all of the water back onto me.
I like the first and the fourth photos. The first because I managed to obtain my ball of water, and the movement in the fourth photo is beautiful and dynamic, it catches the moment of explosion. Seeing the bubbles of air within the water is also pleasing to my eye.