by David Bayliss

An article from a Willfield Camera Club member on a high-speed photography shoot he undertook recently.

My Final Results

What to do?

It starts with an idea then develops.  (Tom gave me the idea of bouncing sugar on a speaker with a balloon on it and it has developed from there).

My initial thought was to capture little love hearts exploding with some form of powder and a hammer looking like it is smashing down on them.

I had seen a recent photo and wanted to capture something similar. I was not expecting to get something quite as good as the example below as this is excellent. However the idea started off my thoughts.


Just for fun. It’s great to capture what the eye can’t see and also to create something you never envisioned as these are one-off shots and will never be produced exactly the same again!



I used my front room dining table and covered this up as it’s messy work. I placed a speaker on the table with a stretched balloon over the top (I used a large 3 foot balloon I bought from Amazon for a few pounds, as I found the small ones broke when stretched).  I then used gaffer tape to tape it to the speaker system.

Next I connected the speaker to the computer for music choice. Lots of pumping loud music!

Flash – set the flash to 1/64th power (or your lowest power setting on your flash) to capture the moment of movement in the flash –  this is what actually freezes the moment not the shutter speed.

Quantum turbo power pack – although this is not necessary I always rig it up to support the flash in terms of battery power (I do however find this loses charge quickly  if not used and have to charge it most times).

Connecting the flash to the camera – I use Pocket wizards triggers to trigger the flash, however any cheaper ones should be fine.

Lens – I used a normal Canon 24 – 70 mm zoom lens in manual focus mode.

Camera settings – set to manual – F20, ISO 100, 1/160  or similar – play around until you get the effect you need.

Camera trigger – I used a cable connected to my iphone with an application called trigger trap where I can set this up to take a photo every ½ second (time lapse mode) and capture lots of photos while I concentrate on playing the music etc and just let it take photos.

PC – for my photos, as the focus is critical, I tether the camera to my home pc (a Mac with a large screen) so I can get a closer look at every shot to check on the focus and clarity of the photo.

Software – I used Adobe Light room 5 in tether mode as it’s great software and then adjusted the photos later in black and white.

I only expected to get about 5 photos out of 500 which is what happened in the end – expect to delete lots of photos as it just takes patience.

It took some time to get the flash hitting the hammer as I wanted and I moved this eventually around to the front just above the camera to get a full front shot.

I used some pink soda sweets stuff and tried to see what this produced – could I get it to bounce??  Yes I did.

I also used sugar for the bouncing and broken Maltesers chocolates so they looked like rocks (they would bounce easier than the real thing!)

Set up below of flash, speakers, triggers etc ( forget the mess in the background, that’s just my storage area!).

How long?

These 2 shots took 2 sessions and about 3 -4 hours for the photos taking a full evening of concentration.

What did I learn?

  • Keeping the balloon stretched tight with duct tape is a constant battle
  • Don’t start too late as the music will annoy the neighbours
  • Leave more time, as once you get set up, you just want to keep going
  • Chalk and sugar bounce easier than other materials

To see more examples – visit my Facebook and Flickr accounts:

David Bayliss

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