High Speed Photography

Set up

I initially had an idea relating to the assignment 3 the decisive moment.  My initial idea was to steer away from street photography as per phrase coined by Henri Cartier Bresson and take a risk along the lines of a single point in time that could not occur again, a balloon bursting, water droplets striking a surface.

The first high speed photograph was created by Harold Egerton in 1957, its titled Milk Coronet[1] and is reproduced in the Time 1oo image series.  “Seconds. There it is. Sometimes it’s no use at all. Sometimes it’s tremendous value”

I have experimented before dropping water droplets into liquids, a simple setup but was very much trial and error as to the timing , capturing the water droplet before, during or after was very hit and miss and took a huge number of frames to capture anything worth retaining.  I’m not the first one to come across this, so there must be a way to construct a set up that would allow a number of variables to be consistent to then allow similar results to be obtained and from there change the variables to produce different results.

Images created by Harold Egerton also included bullets fired through apples, playing cards and the like.  I’m pretty certain there would not be any way of convincing my wife this was a good idea!  Balloons, well there’s another thought and probably not too messy.  There are plenty of really good examples of ballon burst images, some of my favourites are by Edward Horsford [2] and this on the Flickr page of Eric Barger [3]

From my previous foray into water droplets if I was going to attempt balloons then I would need to find a way to trigger the camera at the point of the balloon bursting.  The set up was going to be a challenge, filling and fixing the balloons was going to take time so I needed to get the rig and triggering set up correct.  A few google searches led me to discover manufacturers of sound/laser triggers that link directly to flash and camera.  Once of my constraints was money, I didn’t want to expend huge sums of money on a trigger for this to then sit in my gear cupboard.

I came across 2 sets of equipment that I considered useful and of minimal outlay, one of which was by Triggertrap [4]which included a dongle to attach your smartphone to your camera, additionally something to attach their dongle to a speedlight.  The second by Miops[5].  Both can be connected directly to your camera and a smartphone app although the Miops one has more functionality/protection the Triggertrap one was cheaper so I went with that. I must add the Triggertrap kit app can be used for more than detecting balloon bursts.

The Triggertrap kit arrived quickly once I’d placed the order, pretty simple and consisted of a dongle to the smartphone and then a cable to the camera or hot shoe trigger (additional purchase).  Fairly straightforward to set up, I followed the tutorial[6]on their webpages and got together the kit for setting up in my bathroom.  I live in London and didn’t want to set this up outside due to 2 limiting factors

  • At the time of testing it was December and pretty cold to be messing about with water in the evening
  • Due to the light pollution I didn’t want to taint the longer exposure images.

Set up was relatively straightforward in my small bathroom

  • Black backdrop fabric gaffer taped to the white tiles
  • 2 lightstands and cross member to suspend the balloons from
  • something to pop the balloon, I used a stick with needle taped to it
  • Speedlight set in manual mode (sandwich bag for speedlight to keep it dry)
  • Tripod for the camera
  • Remote shutter release
  • Camera
  • Portable stand and laptop placed outside of the bathroom (not entirely necessary but I found it easier to review the images on the laptop screen during a tethered Lightroom session)
  • Triggertrap dongle
  • Lots of balloons, water, food colouring
  • Towels to wipe up water and a lens cloth to wipe off any splashes on the lens, if you’re floor is wet then it will get very slippery and you don’t need to slip over in a confined space and hurt yourself.
  • Smartphone and Triggertrap app – I’m using an iPhone 7 which is waterproof, if your smartphone isn’t waterproof then you’ll need to place it in a sandwich bag or similar
  • Send wife out for the day shopping, its expensive but this is messy!

carlgoodwin_07_12_2016

Bursting of the balloons

Initial testing was quite promising, rather than wasting balloons I was clapping to set the sound level on the app, I did find that if you set the level too low when you activated the camera the sound of the mirror flipping up triggered the flash.  You also need to ensure there is not any extraneous light in the room (turn the phone over so the display is covered) otherwise you will get ghost images recorded of the balloon before it bursts, this is evident below in the top right and bottom left images.

Once I’d set up after a couple of test runs to check the flash output levels I was satisfied of the process,

  1. Turn off light
  2. Close bathroom door
  3. Open Shutter on camera
  4. stab balloon with pointy stick – ‘pop’
  5. close shutter

Try not to trip/slip over turning light back on!

Its worthwhile mentioning that this point keeping the length of time the shutter is open to a minimum helps here.

For each balloon I managed to get the filling up, timing up and popping into an average of 5 minutes per balloon.

Review

From the initial set of images I’m quite pleased by how these have turned out as a first attempt.  They can be improved upon and any further setups would include

An additional speedlight, placed camera left

A painted stick in black

Review of location as my bathroom is quite small

Complimentary combinations of balloon colours and dye additive

Thickener in the water to limit the number of finer droplets

Experimentation with powder instead of water

So there we have it, a bit if fun, a bit messy, relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things and a good learning experience.

 

Bibliography

[1] http://100photos.time.com/photos/harold-edgerton-milk-drop – accessed 5/2/17

[2] https://www.edwardhorsford.com/balloons – accessed 5/2/17

[3] Balloon burst – accessed 5/2/17

[4]Trigger trap webpage – accessed 5/2/17

[5]Miops Web page – accessed 5/2/17

[6] Trigger trap blog post accessed 5/2/17

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Assignment 3; The decisive moment

I’ve started off assignment 3 with a mind map to help me with a little more focus but also so I don’t forget critical elements when I’m writing this up.  Noticing from the brief these images need to be printed I’ve read through the OCA forums on printing specifications, feedback from tutors and I’ve now purchased (sourced from Silverprint) 2 presentation boxes, A4 and A3 sizes and A3 matte double sided paper.

Why double sided? well I thought about creating more work for myself by feeding the paper through the printer twice,  to then mix up and have to then bin.  Only joking, don’t get me wrong I am concerned by the double sided printing practical aspects.  My thought process is 1 to save paper and in a vain attempt to help the environment, I can also then assemble the pages into an A3 binder (sourced from Marrutt).  I’ve sourced a small 7×5 binder and paper to practice with.  Based on my feedback from assignment 2 I will now be submitting prints on single sided paper. Double sided prints I’ll keep for an ovrerall presentation but for assignments they will be single sided.

Update 23rd March

My prints arrived on 23rd March from Loxley (one day after ordering) and I posted them on 24th March ready for my google hangout call with Helen on 5th April.

My final images are below and contact sheets, please let me know if you have any comments 🙂

A3 final Image contact-1

Final Images Contact page 1

A3 final Image contact-2

Final Images Contact page 2

A3 contact sheet-1

Contact sheet Page 1

A3 contact sheet-2

Contact sheet Page 2

 

Mind map current version

EYV - Assignment 3

Bibliography

[1] https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/mindnode-delightful-mind-mapping/id312220102?mt=8 accessed 18/11/2016

[2] https://refme.zendesk.com/hc/en-gb/articles/115000823509-RefME-transition-to-Cite-This-For-Me-FAQ *** RefMe has been replaced by an app called ‘Cite This for Me’ in Feb 2017.  The app does not have all of the full functionality of RefMe and it’s worthwhile looking to see of there are other apps available.  I’ll stick with it for the time being.

Clamshell Portfolio Photo boxes

I’m planning my next assignment for Expressing your Vision.  Reading the brief for Assignment 3 it states “post your prints, no larger than A4, to your tutor together with your assignment notes.”

Following reading of the OCA forums I’ve come across what I believe to be an acceptable method of sending A4 prints and the formatting!   Essentially the print should be no larger than A4 but should also have a border (to facilitate handling) (appx 3.5 cm) and be on matte paper to minimise reflections when handling.( I will be first to admit I may have missed a post/document somewhere and if anyone spots an error here then please feel free to let me know with the source and I’ll update this post.)

I chose to then purchase 2 boxes for presentation, A3 and A4 sizes.  In addition to this I’ve selected Silverprint as my supplier (they give student discount too) and Fotospeed as my paper choice.

First impressions:

Silverprint.  Student discount at 5% and for free postage over £75.

To enable student discount  you need to register an account and email them with a scan of your student ID card and the discount is limited to 1 year.  On their webpage it states you’ll get 5% discount and any order over £75 will receive free standard postage. (correct as at 19/11/2016)

I chose to send them a scan of my OCA card and my NUS card. The following day I received an email and was provided with the code to apply to the shopping cart.  What it doesn’t state is to whether the order value is exclusive of exclusive of VAT so this needs clarity.  It transpires your order needs to be over £75 BEFORE VAT and post/packing before the free P&P can apply. Also handy to note is that the Fotospeed paper I  purchased was cheaper than advertised on the Fotospeed website, not by much.

Delivery was quick once it has been despatched and arrived in good condition and well packaged with no visible damage to the external box or contents.

Products:

SP Portfolio Box A4 3.5cm Depth Black Internal –SAB002101S (18.95 GBP incl VAT)

Image of internal box 00430260.JPG

This and the A3 version (34.96 GBP incl VAT for the white internals)  are nicely made and fit together well when opening and closing.  They seem to have a substantial enough construction to satisfy what they need to do, protect your prints, although I’m unsure as to how well they will fare being sent backwards and forwards multiple times to your tutor.

I’ll update this when the boxes have received a few runs in the mail 🙂

Fotospeed paper – I’ve used this manufacturer before but haven’t used this particular paper, Matt duo 240gsm before.  I tend to use Canson or Hahnemuhle if i’m producing client prints and use either Pearl or Gloss depending on the job.  For the purposes of this all I can say at this stage is after discount the duo paper is .325GBP (32.5p) per sheet of paper, but if you’re printing double sided then that’s just over 16 pence a print. (without ink or printer maintenance costs).

Links correct at 19/11/2016.