Interesting Photo of the Day: A Bullet Splitting a Water Drop in Half

If you wanted to photograph a bullet splitting a drop of water in half, you would probably assume that there would be a super fancy high speed camera involved. You would be surprised to find out that you can actually pull the feat off with a DSLR, two intervalometers, a pair of Nikon SB-900 speedlights, and some very precise timing. That’s, reportedly, what was used to take the picture below:

water-spliced-by-bullet

A bullet slices through water. (Via Imgur. Click for larger size.)

How to Photograph a Bullet Splitting a Drop of Water

Essentially, the entire setup is based on the use of two intervalometers. When a jolt of electricity triggers the valve to release a drop of water, the timers are also triggered. The first timer tells the gun when it should be fired and the second timer activates the speedlights. Each of the timers works on a preprogrammed delay. The gun timer is programmed to be delayed at the exact time it takes for the water drop to fall, whereas the second timer that activates the flashes is set to delay at the same rate as the drop impact time.

If you’re feeling a little skeptical, you’re not alone. After receiving a lot of inquiries about how the photograph was taken, one photographer broke down the process and was nice enough to share this image of his own setup:

bullet-water-drop-setup

This type of setup was likely used for the image. (Via Imgur. Click for larger size.)

The image was taken on bulb mode in an entirely dark room. The only light available to expose the image onto the camera’s sensor was that from the flash, which was set to 1/128 power–equating to a flash duration and actual exposure time of 1/38,500 of a second.

“To capture the event, I simply pre-focus on ‘ground zero’ with a 200mm Micro lens, lock the camera mirror up, shut off room lights, and press one button on intervalometer #1 to release a drop whereupon the whole process happens automatically. The whole process takes 28ms + or – a ms or two. The hit rate, using the method described, is close to 100%.”

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One response to “Interesting Photo of the Day: A Bullet Splitting a Water Drop in Half”

  1. Burt says:

    I tried doing that same thing last year. I never came up with a reliable way to fire the gun (a BB gun in my case). The problem was that the water drop took a lot longer than the BB, so the process had to start with the water drop.

    I tried manually firing the gun, and then letting a laser-interrupt fire the water, but my room wasn’t large enough to put the gun far enough away to make it work.

    I also tried making a make-shift gun with a CO2 cartridge and electronic switch. That worked better, but the aim of my gizmo was too erratic, and the BB was hard to load.

    I would love to hear how they got the gun to fire electronically.

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