How to Take Pictures of Things Shattering

The DigitalRev team’s unorthodox and often bizarre attempts at making images could well be termed as innovative. But they are in no way boring. This time the team decided to capture images of stuff shattering and/or blowing up, and they did it using some cheap camera gear. How cheap? Let’s find out:

Just because humans have flexible thumbs that guarantee them a position at the top of the food chain doesn’t mean that they can time a shutter release at the precise moment something shatters. Even with the best of reflexes it is always trial and error. Unless you have an endless supply of things to shatter, that approach is not feasible. The solution lies in using something to automatically trigger a shutter release at the right moment.

That brings us to the part where we take a look at the gear that makes this whole shoot possible. Kai and Lok decidedly have taken the cheap route this time. They used one of the cheapest DSLRs on the market, the Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i), with a 50mm f/1.8 lens and a Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite. And if you are doing this at home, you will also need a few things to shatter! Use your imagination here, but stay safe no matter what you decide to use. Caveat emptor, folks!


Triggertrap was used to trigger the flash and, in turn, the shutter release.

To trigger the shutter release they used an app called Triggertrap. A bit of ingenuity, the correct flash adapter cable, and your iPhone connects with your flash/camera.

The app can be set to trigger the camera on different sensor modes. You can set it to trigger the flash when it senses sound, vibration, or motion. As soon as the app detects a sound, it triggers the flash, and that flash, in turn, triggers the shutter release. In addition, they used a slight delay on the shutter release so that they could actually capture a moment when the object was shattered and not end up with the moment when the impact was just made. In brief, they used a long exposure settings (Kai recommends you use bulb mode), low ISO, and a small aperture to ensure that the exposure is actually dark. The flash lasts for 1/10,000 of a second.



The result is not exactly “ground breaking,” but it’s pretty cool, and the technique can be used to capture all sorts of high speed action.

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