Category Archives: high-speed photography

Water Drop Collision Images with the Canon PowerShot S110 Camera

Today I did one more round of water drop collision photography, following up on my experiments over the past month or so. This time, I used the Canon PowerShot S110, a really nice, very compact camera that takes Raw images and has full manual controls. (You really need to use manual focus for these images, as well as manual exposure.)

I should mention in passing that the only reason I had not tried this type of shooting with the S110 before now was that my camera went in for repairs in mid-June, and I just got it back yesterday. I had a mishap when I was trying to attach the S110 to a spotting scope for digiscoping; the attachment system I used did not work well, and I ended up pulling the lens assembly apart. I checked around on the internet and found a repair shop called Royal Camera Service, Inc., located in Illinois. I was a bit nervous about sending the camera out for repair, but I called them and then sent it out. It took quite a while, but, for $119.00, they did an excellent job, and restored the camera to good-as-new condition.

Anyway, I set the camera up in the same way I did for the earlier water drop shots, this time using a Youngnuo YN560 III flash along with the StopShot control device from Cognisys, Inc. I set the camera to Manual exposure mode and used manual focus; I pre-focused on a small hand bell sitting in the water tray at the spot where the water drops would fall. I set the exposure to 0.5 second and turned on the self-timer to 2 seconds. Then, after turning out the room lights, I pressed the shutter button, and, as the self-timer ran out, I pressed the button on the StopShot controller to trigger the falling of 2 water drops. After the drops passed the infrared sensor, the flash was triggered (during the half-second exposure), and the flash caused the camera to capture the image of the collision of the drops.

The setup for this procedure is shown in the first image in the gallery below, and sample images are included after that one.

Video Showing Setup for High-Speed Images of Gunshots with Sony RX100 Camera

Recently I posted some high-speed images I took with the Sony DSC-RX100 camera of the impacts of shots from an airsoft BB gun. I thought it would be interesting to make a video that shows how these images were captured, so I put together a sequence that shows how the various pieces of equipment were set up. Here is the video, as posted today on YouTube:

That probably wraps up my experiments with gunshot photos for now, because I need to take everything apart and reclaim the space for other projects. I will be turning my attention to a book about the new camera coming from Sony within a couple of weeks, the RX100 II (also known as the RX100M2).

High-Speed Ballistics Photography with the Sony DSC-RX100 Camera

Over the past few weeks I have been using the StopShot control device, made by Cognisys, Inc., to experiment with taking photographs of drops of water falling into a tray of water and colliding with each other. Once I had some experience with the operation of the StopShot device, I decided to try to branch out to taking high-speed images of impacts from gunshots.

I don’t own a real firearm and I wasn’t interested in getting one, so I did some research and decided to use an airsoft gun. I learned that there are many models of airsoft guns available. Many of them are replicas of real guns, but all airsoft guns fire only plastic BBs.

I found out that there happens to be a well-stocked store that sells airsoft equipment about 10 miles from my home near Richmond, Virginia. Last week I visited the store and, after a number of questions, ended up purchasing an airsoft rifle made by KWA, the LM4 PTR, which looks and handles much like a real AR-15 automatic rifle used by the military and others. This rifle shoots plastic airsoft BBs with a diameter of 6 millimeters and a weight of 0.20 gram. Although I don’t know the exact figure, the rifle shoots with a velocity of between 300 and 400 feet per second (100+ meters per second). The rifle is powered by “green gas,” a special mixture of propane that comes in a can.

The gallery at the bottom of this post shows the setup I used, along with a few of the shots that I managed to capture using the Sony DSC-RX100 camera. (I could have used just about any advanced compact camera, but I used the Sony because of its large sensor and excellent image quality.)

There were many steps involved in getting everything set up to capture these images. Here is a brief overview. I purchased the CTK Precision P3 Ultimate Gun Vise as a stand to hold the rifle firmly. With the rifle in that stand, it was somewhat tricky to get it lined up so that, when it fired a BB, the BB would travel between the two infrared sensors connected to the StopShot. When the BB interrupted the infrared beam, the flash connected to the StopShot (a Yongnuo YN-560 III flash) would fire after a delay to allow for the time it took for the BB to travel from the beam to the target. (This delay worked out to be between about 3 and 4 milliseconds.)

The flash was aimed at the target area, which was placed inside a cardboard box for safety. I cut out a part of the box and taped on a sheet of hard, clear plastic to make a protective window. The camera was set up outside that same window and was focused manually on the area where I expected the BB to hit. For each shot, I set the camera’s self-timer for a 10-second delay and used Manual exposure mode with a shutter speed of 1 second at f/9.0. I used the long shutter speed so the shutter would stay open to allow the action to be frozen by the flash. I kept the room darkened so there would not be much ambient light to interfere. I set the flash to its lowest power, 1/128 of full power, so the flash would have a very short duration and be able to freeze the rapid flight of the BB.

Once I pressed the shutter button to trigger the camera’s  self-timer, I moved quickly to the rifle and got ready to fire it. As soon as the camera’s shutter opened for its 1-second exposure, I pulled the trigger on the airsoft gun. Almost immediately after that, the BB penetrated the infrared beam and the flash fired, freezing the action as the BB moved through the target area.

In each image shown below, the gun was fired from the left side. In some shots you can see part of a target and the pellet trap that was set up in the back of the cardboard box to trap the BBs. Despite that setup, a good number of BBs went flying all over the room, making me glad I had my safety glasses on.

As you can imagine, it took a lot of trial and error to get the aiming and timing worked out to the point where I started to get some interesting images. You can see the setup and the results so far in the gallery below. I hope to keep working on this project so I can get some better images, but I was pleased that I was at least able to catch a few images of the black BBs as they flew through the targets.