Feature in Amateur Photographer Magazine

I'm now officially an amateur photographer! I was really chuffed when Amateur Photographer Magazine contacted me to do a reader feature on my high speed photography.



Amateur Photographer is the world's oldest weekly photographic magazine, established in 1884. It is the respected authority for news and reviews, with detailed tests and investigations on the latest equipment. The weekly contents includes interviews and columns from many of the world's leading photographers and practical technique to inspire and enthuse the devoted readership, to whom taking photos is far more than just a hobby.

If you cannot read the text in the image above, here is what I had to say:-

"The basic method for creating theses images is to remotely pop the balloon with, for example, an airgun. When the shutter is opened on the camera, the scene needs to be in darkness as the flash is used to expose the action, the flash is effectively the shutter for this type of high speed photography.

I set the camera to have a 10 second timer delay, within this period I could get into the shooting position and turn off the lights in the garage. The shutter speed was set to 10 seconds, a period of time to enable me to aim and fire gun at the balloon. Whilst the garage was in darkness the camera was unable to record an image, until the flash was fired.

The flash was manually set to 1/64th power, the lowest power setting on the Canon 430EX II.  Contrary to what may be perceived, the flash power isn't the brightness of the light emitted from the flash, but is the length of the light pulse emitted from it. At 1/64th power, the flash pulse from the 430EX II is about 1/25000th of a second. The maximum shutter speed of the Canon 5d Mark III is 1/8000th of a second, nowhere near long enough for high speed photography of this kind, and even then, lots of actions need to take place before an SLR takes an image: the mirror has to be moved up out of the way, then the curtains need to be activated and move across the sensor. Flash activation is, for all intents and purposes, instant."


"The key piece of equipment needed to create these images was Triggertrap's mobile dongle. Inexpensive and hugely powerful, it turns your smartphone into a smart shutter release."


"Using the free app, the smartphone can fire your SLR camera or flash unit using various methods, by sensing vibration, motion, facial recognition and, the mode I used for these shots, sound (other modes such as timelapse and HDR can also be used). Quite simply the noise from the airgun is picked up by the microphone on the smartphone, the app then sends a signal via the dongle to activate the flash or camera. This all happens in micro seconds making it possible to photograph lightning-fast action."


"The firing distance from the balloon to the gun is crucial to capture the moment when the balloon is ripping apart and the water has retained the shape of the balloon. I started off about 2m from the balloon, and moved back 1m at a time until I was getting the results I desired. Slight variations in the pellet speed and where I shot the balloon produced very different results."


"Knowing how much water and talcum powder to put in the balloon was pure guesswork initially. I discovered that the more water I put into the balloon, the tighter the rubber skin would be around the water, making it retract quicker when popped."