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High-Speed Photography
Daniel Putz, Photographer
Jefferson | MD | USA | Posted: 6:47 PM on 05.30.09
->> I'm looking for some information and how-tos on HS Photography, specifically sound-activated triggers. Have any of you done this? Where are some reputable resources?

I'll have the opportunity to do some photography at a firing range in the near future, and I'd like to to something cool.

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Phil Sedgwick, Photographer
San Luis Rey | CA | USA | Posted: 7:04 PM on 05.30.09
->> I'd start here:
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Ric Tapia, Photographer, Photo Editor
Los Angeles | CA | USA | Posted: 7:11 PM on 05.30.09
->> Check this out:

I used this to get this shot:

or this:
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Josh Lehrer, Student/Intern, Photographer
Rochester | NY | USA | Posted: 9:24 PM on 05.30.09
->> check out:

A pioneer in this field is Andrew Davidhazy...

Good luck!

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Curtis Clegg, Photographer
Sycamore | IL | USA | Posted: 8:53 AM on 05.31.09
->> Here are some images I took with a $5.00 sound trigger kit:

The assembled trigger can be purchased online for $12.00 at:

These bare-bones kits don't have any kind of delay built into them so you'll have to vary the delay by moving the trigger nearer to/further from the sound source.

One caveat with firearms: I'm guessing that no sound trigger will be fast enough to compensate for shutter lag in order to capture sparks and smoke coming from the barrel or breach of a gun... by the time the sound trigger trips the shutter of a DSLR the peak of action will long over. You'll probably have much better luck triggering a strobe than you will a shutter.

I'm thinking of doing a shoot at the local police shooting range (indoor) and here's my tentative plan:

Get the range as dark as possible. Set up a camera downrange, point it at the shooter, and trigger it with a remote. Use a shutter speed of 1/2 or 1 second. Have a shoe-mount flash (maybe with red gel) set to 1/128 to signal the shooter when to pull the trigger.

Uprange, have a sound-activated strobe that will illuminate and freeze the shooter upon the gun's report. The long shutter speed should capture most of the muzzle blast.

I'd like to know what you have planned and how it works out for you.
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Daniel Putz, Photographer
Jefferson | MD | USA | Posted: 9:26 PM on 05.31.09
->> For lighting, I have several options:

1) I have 4 x1600s that I can tie together with PWs hooked into that trigger. I don't imagine this adding too much delay to the process. (1/4 power, T.5 is 1/6000;T.1 is 1/2000)

2) A 430EX and a Vivitar 285 flash which I can also use as light sources.

Anyone know the flash durations of these flashes, per chance?

So far, the friend I'll be going with hasn't yet nailed down if we'll be outside or inside...but I imagine with 4 of those white-lightings I'd have enough to overpower the ambient light(set close-in, of course).
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 12:32 AM on 06.01.09
->> Daniel,

It really all depends on what you plan to shoot. If you're shooting ballistics, the white lightnings are probably not going to be fast enough to give you that surreal tack-sharp look.

The typical setup for this kind of thing is handheld many as you can muster. There are guys out there that build entire light banks with handheld strobes.

Most of the stuff I've done has been with a couple of SB800's dialed down to 1/64th or less. I read somewhere that an SB800 at 1/128 is something like 1/30,000th of a second...which is fast enough to give you some really tack-sharp images.

If you really want to nail your ballistics, Mumford sells a sensor specifically designed for ballistic triggering. It's a tube that slips over the gun barrel. The tube has a couple of sensors and a small microprocessor that calculates the actual projectile velocity in realtime. This info is fed back to the controller to trigger the flash at exactly the right time based on a predetermined distance.
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Curtis Clegg, Photographer
Sycamore | IL | USA | Posted: 8:08 AM on 06.01.09
->> The more I think about it, the more I think an indoor range is the way to go of that's possible.

With your WLs you'll probably be limited to 1/250 sec., and if you're going to overpower the sun with them you'll likely be at full power which will mean relatively long durations. (see my photos of toy guns, there is a lot of blur on the projectiles even with my AB400 at 1/16). And with all that light you'll have to stop way down and possibly even need and ND filter or two.

I wish I knew the durations of your strobes, but I'm guessing they are much faster than your WLs.
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Dan Leitch, Photographer
New Hope | MN | USA | Posted: 10:41 AM on 06.01.09
->> I've done a fair amount of high speed work using the Hi-viz kits and a few homemade trigger boxes. They do come with a delay as an option for very cheap and if you go this route I would advise adding the delay. Ditch the strobes, not nearly fast enough flash durations. Use the 430EX and Vivitar, extremely fast flash duration compared to strobes. Remember that flash durations are faster with lower flash power so use the lowest power you can and still provide light, I like to use 1/64 or 1/128. Here is a link to a very useful site with flash durations on the 580EX.

If you are looking at outside work don't worry about the flash, not going to do you a lot of good. Just shoot at your highest shutter speeds and go from there. I just recently spent a full day shooting with a SWAT team during training, both camera and guns and I will tell you that a sound trigger is not going to be real useful at a range. You have way to much noise going on around you, unless you are the only shooters at the facility.

I've done some remote shots at the range but haven't used any triggers. I do have a home built laser beam trigger as well but way too much work involved in setting it up to have a bullet break a beam. I will be attempting that at an indoor police range in the next few weeks when I can use a gun vise to prevent movement.

I agree with Curtis on using a flash to capture a muzzle blast. The shutter delay is problematic. I've used the sound trigger set to its fastest delay and then hooked that into a PW Multimax and used the fastest delay dialed into that. Most shots even from a pellet gun are well clear of the muzzle. So here is how I use a flash, I like a dark room (range) and use ISO 100, 2sec shutter and about f5.6. Trip the camera, fire the gun to trip the sound trigger which will trip the flash. Make adjustments as necessary.

My whole point of building the delays was for capturing firearms shooting. I am just now building up to really nailing that down after a lot of practice on fruit, balloons, and anything else I could think to shoot.
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Ric Tapia, Photographer, Photo Editor
Los Angeles | CA | USA | Posted: 12:27 PM on 06.01.09
->> Flash Durations:
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Tim Vizer, Photographer, Photo Editor
Belleville | IL | USA | Posted: 9:55 AM on 06.02.09
->> Hey Dan:

I remember Florida photographes used to use some kind of sound trigger for Shuttle and other launches. Sounds like you have lots of good suggestions here, thought I'd just throw that in.
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Daniel Putz, Photographer
Jefferson | MD | USA | Posted: 4:02 PM on 06.02.09
->> Yeah, I'm going to pick up a trio of 580EX IIs for this (and team headshots this fall) and that $12 trigger Curtis linked to. Another plus, is one of the guys that's going to be there is a mathematics whiz (& robotics engineer) and can help with calculations. ;)

Can't wait! Thank you all!
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Dann Wunderlich, Student/Intern, Photographer
Columbia | MO | US | Posted: 6:56 PM on 06.02.09
->> If you need any help I have done alot of work with water drops (hence my avatar) and other forms of High Speed Photography.

I used that some link when I was working on my project.
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Bernard Cuzzillo, Photographer
Berkeley | CA | USA | Posted: 1:23 AM on 09.06.09
->> At scroll down most of the way to see balloons popping when overfilled. Click on the burst balloon, and then click again on the icon that will appear in the lower right when hovering. (This is the highslide code.) The jellyfish effect only happens when the balloon is burst from overfilling, not when breached by a blade, point, or flame. These photos are the modern incarnation of those done by the real inventor of high-speed still photography, Prof. Harold Edgerton of MIT in the 1930s. These modern photos were taken with a Redlake ES11000 and spark-flash illumination. The Redlake uses an full-frame interline transfer CCD and has a shutter lag of 8 microseconds (0.000008 sec), and the spark flash duration is about 0.5 microseconds (0.0000005 sec). The trigger is a microphone, just like Edgerton used. Most of the delay between burst and photo is the time it takes the sound to travel about 1 inch to the microphone. (And it is really loud, almost like firing a gun, and requires ear protection.)
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Thread Title: High-Speed Photography
Thread Started By: Daniel Putz
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