Exercise 1.12 Smash – Balloon Burst

Brief:-

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Review your photo. How was your timing? Is the shutter speed fast enough? Should you increase your ISO?
  4. Try again…and again…
  5. 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.

Exercise 1.12 Smash

ISO 5000, f6, 1/8000th sec

Exercise 1.12 Smash

ISO 8063, f5.6, 1/8000th sec

Exercise 1.12 Smash

ISO 6400, f4.5, 1/6400th sec

Exercise 1.12 Smash

ISO 100, f6.3, 1/40th Sec

Exercise 1.12 Smash

ISO 100, f7.1, 1/20th sec

Exercise 1.12 Smash

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.

Exercise 1.12 Smash – Harold Edgerton – Attempt to Emulate Edgerton

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.

Milk drop coronet 1957Fig 1

Guisse Moran Tennis Serve 1952 – Multiflash – single negative, shutter fully open. Taken in pitch black. Strobe lighting. Film only exposed when strobe flashes.

Gussie Moran tennis serve 1952Fig 2

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

Atom bomb explosion circa 1952

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 attemptsExercise 1.12 SmashExercise 1.12 SmashExercise 1.12 Smash

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.

References

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/