Brief:- This exercise asks you to choose some suitable small objects that you can break! An old toy, some rotten fruit, a shirt or a balloon filled with water would all work well. The point here is to freeze a fast-moving object in an otherwise still location. You must get the object in sharp focus to reveal the detail of its disintegration and movement. Choose a suitable location where you won’t make too much mess. Aim to frame the object quite close, with the environment around it. You’ll need to frame the object in front of a background that helps to emphasise it visually: that could mean a complementary colour (e.g. red against green) or an opposite tone (light object against dark background or vice versa). Before you start, research the freeze-frame photographs of Denis Darzacq at http://www.denisdarzacq.com/ Do an online search for Harold Edgerton’s experiments. These photographers give you images that would be impossible without the mechanism of the shutter.
These notes are quite concise as I spent a lot of my time trying to photograph milk in the style of Edgerton.I say more about that at the end.
Electrical engineer, deep-sea and sonar photography, fast flash photography to capture balloons exploding and the bullet through the apple. Photographing and recording for nuclear testing. Photographic techniques have been a part of and an extension to his work
Milk Drop Coronet 1957 – high speed motion picture, then develop single image showing the coronet.
Guisse Moran Tennis Serve 1952 – Multiflash – single negative, shutter fully open. Taken in pitch black. Strobe lighting. Film only exposed when strobe flashes.
Atom Bomb explosion circa 1952 – Raptronic shutter. Shutter opened by magnetic field so the shutter could be open for a fraction of a second – down as low as 2 milliseconds
Shadow Photography – No camera, no lens, just film, flash and fast-moving object. Flash is timed to fire just before the subject passes in front of the film. This way a bullet can even be filmed.
Stroboscopic photography – Electrical charge stored, discharged into inert gas tube for flash, flash then exposes the subject so rapidly that it can illuminate and freeze subject at high-speed, so running water would appear as drops of water.
Here are my attempts
I decided that I would try to capture a milk drop coronet. I have a Nikon d7100, Tamron 18-270mm lens at 270mm, and I attached the whole set of Vello Extension tubes, 36mm, 20mm and 12 mm – this gave me a focal length of 507mm (adjusted to include 1.5* built in crop sensor. I had the ISO at 8063 so the images have a lot of noise. I have done what I can to reduce it in Lightroom by using a combination of grad filter, eraser brush with auto mask to delete brush from the edges of the milk drops, then reduced clarity and increase noise slider. When I can afford better Lighting on external flash I will give this ago again. All are taken at 1/250th sec. I couldn’t go faster without underexposing and introducing more noise through development. Considering that Edgerton was using a high-speed motion camera which could record between 6,000 and 15,000 frames per second, then I think I have done well at 5 frames per second. It would have worked out better if I was using a pipette to drop milk or have someone else to do so, and I will also try the method that Edgerton did – having one drop of milk on a flat surface and dropping the next drop onto the milk on the flat surface. I have had a lot of fun today.
Fig 1 Edgerton, Harold; 1957; Milk Drop Coronet; Online at https://edgerton-digital-collections.org/
Fig 2 Edgerton, Harold; 1952; Gussie Moran Tennis Serve; Online at https://edgerton-digital-collections.org/techniques/multiflash
Fig 3 Edgerton, Harold; 1952; Atom Bomb Explosion; Online at https://edgerton-digital-collections.org/techniques/rapatronic-shutter
Sheldon, James; 1998; EXPLORING THE ART AND SCIENCE OF STOPPING TIME: A CD-ROM BASED ON THE LIFE AND WORK OF HAROLD E. EGDERTON; Cambridge; MIT Press; online at https://edgerton-digital-collections.org/