Bursting Balloons !

Bursting Balloons !
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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Another attempt at water balloons: This time I am trying to be more creative since I do tend to miss out on a lot of opportunites to be creative when I get engrossed in the science of the project I am working on. We have a very useful "batcave" under our house that is nice and dark and has soil for a floor so it doesn't matter what falls on it. This is my new 'studio' for water balloon photography :) That's the garage floor up above and a solid earth bank for the air rifle pellets to go into.

To add another element to the bursting balloons I decided to compare them to fruit. I got a glass display stand on sale and added some fruit from the wife's kitchen. Since these were going to be the test photos I didn't care too much about perfection. I had the camera on a tripod set at iso 100, F9 and 2 seconds exposure which gives me a pitch black background while the light from the flashes is all that illuminates the subject. I couldn't believe that I missed three times in a row at first. I would aim the air rifle with the laser pointer, hold it steady, press the shutter release, and then fire but I was so worried about hitting the glass display that each time the pellet just went above the balloon.
The one flash is fired by the sound activated flash trigger as shown on my blog, the other flash uses its optic sensor to fire when that one fires.

 Eventually I hit it but still too high which is not the effect I was looking for. Also the SB26 flash on the left kept going to sleep even though it wasn't in standby mode - I use older flashes for these experiments when water is flying eveywhere :) The subject was only lit from the right here and after reviewing the first 4 images on computer I realized it was blowing the highlights.

The next shot was also a bit high but the microphone was a bit further away so the balloon was totally gone when the flash fired.

My aim was improving, the mic was adjusted to the right position but I still shot high in the next shot once again while worrying about the glass display stand. Once again it was lucky I missed because the left flash had gone to sleep again. This taught me to do a practice 'clap' before each shot to make sure it was awake.

Another shot... they are starting to improve.

Here is the scene shown at wide angle. I found a can of air freshener and put a hole through it before filling some more balloons.

After filling some more balloons I went back to shooting too high again.

The beauty of this kind of photography is that you never really know what you are going to get - occasionally you get a mental image of it when the flash goes off and then there is the adrenalin rush when you realize you saw a decent split but not on this shot, though it did look interesting.

At this point I decided I had been too cautious and was not getting the results I wanted and determined that if I hit the glass then so be it - things improved from here.
I do need to remember to take a little more time to clean up between shots, and also get better looking fruit because that banana was very soggy and a bit green inside after getting blown off the stand each time by a water balloon bursting.

So, mental note to myself for next shoot: There is no point in spending two hours setting things up only to get 80% of the results I wanted when another 30 seconds of cleaning could make 20% difference to the shot.

Well the batcave is all set up now and I've ordered another 100 balloons so it's time to see what I can do with water balloons and perhaps throw in a bit of superspeed photography so see what I can accomplish :)

A few from Sunday afternoon, the next day.

Some of my work on National Geographic blog.
A mention of my photography on National Geographic blog