Many a photography enthusiast has looked at stunning high speed captures and assumed that the equipment necessary was far too expensive. Set up on high speed photography studio on the cheap with this handy guide.
There are a few challenges to capturing rapidly occurring events. Whether you're trying to freeze a bullet passing through a piece of fruit, a pin popping a balloon, or a light bulb shattering you need to be able to capture an event occurring within a thousandth or less of a second. Actual high speed photography rigs are quite pricey, but you can easily emulate more expensive rigs with a standard DSLR by a little creative cheating.
To work around the problems with shutter lag and flash synchronisation, the exposure is done in a completely dark room. This way the shutter can opened without actually getting an exposure. The exposure time set on the camera just has to be long enough for the action to happen while the shutter is still open. Because the room is dark, the long exposure time will not have any effect on the final output (this is because no light enters the lens to hit the sensor / film) To actually get an "exposure", a flash is fired. The flash light duration will now become the actual exposure time.
Rather than spend a fortune for a high speed camera, you simply need to work in a dark environment and let the burst of the flash take care of the issue of shutter lag. Since nobody has the kind of lightning quick reflexes it would take to push the shutter cable right when the event was occurring, there is a work around for that too.
Check out the full tutorial below for information on creating a sound based trigger for your flash to sync the event with the flash going off. Whenever the balloon goes pop, the fruit goes smoosh, or the glass begins to shatter, the DIY sensor will pick up the noise and fire the flash—capturing your moment of high speed destruction for posterity. If DIY isn't your thing, especially when it comes to electronics tinkering, there is a commercial version of the sound sensor available. If you've experimented with high speed photography or other cool DIY feats of photography, share your wizardy in the comments below.
DIY High Speed Photography at Home [Digital Photography School]