Tag Archives: high-speed photography

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).

More Water Drop Photography with the Sony RX100

A little over a week ago I wrote about my first attempts at water drop photography using the Sony DSC-RX100 camera, using its BULB setting to hold the shutter open while the flash fires and the drops hit the water. Those first attempts were interesting, but not all that successful. Since then, I have switched to using a different type of infrared sensor, which has given me more consistent results. I also purchased an excellent e-book on the subject called The Ultimate Guide to Water Drop Photograpy, by Corrie White (same last name as me, but no relation). Using the new equipment and several helpful tips from the e-book, I adjusted my setup in several ways. I placed a green-colored translucent sheet over the Yongnuo flash to add color, and I used a larger tray for the water. I found a better way to adjust the focus, by standing a small handbell in the tray of water where the drops hit, and focusing on the bell’s handle. I used microphone stands to hold up the infrared sensors, instead of tripods, so the setup is much less cluttered than before and it is possible to adjust everything so the drops hit in a good location to capture interesting splashes and collision.

Once I had everything set up in the new arrangement, I was able to experiment with the timing of the drops. I think the results this time were definitely better than the results from last week. In the gallery below, there is a shot of the new setup, followed by the actual water drop shots. The first of those shots shows the crown shape that results when a single drop splashes into the water. The other shots all involve double drops. For those shots, the StopShot equipment releases two drops so that one drop will collide with the other. Once the timing is adjusted properly, you can get results like those shown here, when the collisions between the drops produce a fairly dramatic pattern of water spreading out in a circle.

I plan to keep working on this type of photography, and I will post more shots if I find ways to improve the results.

Setup for Taking Images of Water Drops

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blue bowl full of water with splash from water drop frozen by flash

Water Drop Photography with the Sony DSC-RX100 Camera

For a long time I have admired high-speed photographs that capture images of subjects like speeding bullets, bursting balloons, and splashing drops of water or other liquids. Over the past couple of days I finally got the opportunity to try out this type of photography myself using my Sony DSC-RX100 camera.

I am not enough of a handyman to put together the necessary components for these shots on my own, so I ordered a kit from a company called Cognisys, Inc.  I purchased their StopShot Water Drop Photography Kit, which includes the StopShot control device, a special valve that releases water drops, and the necessary cables to connect it all together. (There is a picture showing it as I set it up in the gallery at the bottom of this post.)

Once I had the kit set up so that water drops would be released on the press of a button, I connected up my flash unit, a Yongnuo Speedlite YN560. I chose that unit because it has a standard PC connection for a flash cord, which is necessary in order to synchronize the system. Once the flash was set up and the control unit was properly programmed, when I pressed a button the valve released a drop of water that splashed into a bowl of water about 24 inches (61 cm) below the valve, and the flash fired just as the water drop splashed into the bowl of water.

One reason the Sony RX100 camera is good for this type of photography is that it has a BULB setting for shutter speed. With the BULB setting, the shutter stays open for as long as you hold down the shutter button and closes only when you release the shutter button. With the use of the BULB setting, you don’t have to control the camera with the control unit.

In order to take a water drop picture with this setup, here is how I proceeded. With the StopShot equipment set up and synchronized, I set up the RX100 on a solid tripod–a Manfrotto 055XPROB with a 322RC2 joystick head. I set the camera to take Raw images in Manual exposure mode. I set the aperture to f/9.0 in order to get a broad depth of field, set the shutter speed to BULB, and used manual focus, because the camera would be shooting in the dark and it would be hard to use autofocus on a fleeting drop of water.

I dimmed the lights in the room to reduce the ambient light that might show up in the image. Then I pressed the shutter button to open the shutter in BULB mode, and immediately pressed the button on the StopShot control unit to release a drop of water. As soon as the drop hit the water in the bowl and the flash fired, I released the shutter button.

It took quite a few attempts and numerous misfires before I got a few shots that looked the way I hoped they would–with well-formed drops captured just above the water. As you can see in the images in the gallery below, I tried a couple of different angles.  I also experimented briefly with the procedure for releasing two drops of water in rapid succession, in hopes of capturing a collision between the two drops. I didn’t ever achieve a collision, though I did catch two drops in the last two images shown here.

Overall, I was quite happy with the StopShot setup, because it came with sufficient instructions for me to get it running without too much difficulty and it worked well, though it took a good deal of fiddling to get everything synchronized properly.

Apart from the tinkering with the StopShot system, the biggest difficulty I had was in getting the images focused sharply. I used the MF Assist menu option to focus on an enlarged image, and focused on a pencil head above the bowl where I expected the water drop to end up, but I don’t think I ever got the focus point to be exactly where it needed to be. In part, the difficulty in focusing stemmed from the RX100’s relatively large sensor, which gives the camera a relatively shallow depth of field. This situation makes it fairly easy to achieve a nice blurred-background effect, but it makes it a little harder to get completely sharp focus in a situation like this, when I was focusing on a very small point at a close distance.

Anyway, the gallery below has a picture of the setup I used, followed by the best of the single-drop and two-drop images that I managed to capture with the Sony RX100.

Setup for Water Drop Shots with Sony DSC-RX100 Camera

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