Balloons fascinate everyone, including adults. Every child loves playing with balloons, but most of the time, they get scared when the balloon bursts. But do you know that a bursting balloon looks beautiful and you can make extraordinary images of when it happens? In this tutorial, I will teach you how to do popping water balloon photography using a sound trigger with your camera.
Balloons can be shoot in different ways: you can fill balloons with different color water, take different shots and merge the images in one and make a rainbow; you can put a hat or sunglasses on a water-filled balloon and burst it; you can add talcum powder in a balloon and burst it; you can burst an air-filled balloon with an arrow or a dart; possibilities are endless.
Making an image of a popping balloon is not easy because everything happens in a fraction of a second. You can either try your luck with the timing gods – where you try to synchronize your shutter release with the popping balloon – or use a sound trigger for high-speed photography like the MIOPS Smart+. High-speed photography, like popping balloon photography, can be straightforward using this type of trigger as it controls your camera to take a shot at the perfect moment.
What you need:
First, you'll need balloons, and you'll need a lot. Buy some packs of medium size balloons. If you want to show only the shape of water and don't want to show the balloon, use the same color balloons as your background so that pieces of balloons merge with the background, and you'll get a clean photo. I used black balloons because I had a black background. If you want to show balloons too, use a different color balloon than your background.
Next, you will need a background. If you have a paper background you can use that otherwise use a piece of cloth. You also need a stand to hang balloons. If you don’t have a stand, tie a long rope from the ceiling and attach balloons to that rope.
To burst the balloons, you’ll need something like a pin or a needle. Tape your pin to a long wire so you can burst from a distance and also paint it with the same color as the background so it won’t show in the picture. It’s better to use the same color thread as the background to hang balloons.
Next, you need a camera, lens, and a tripod; it's advisable to use a 50mm to 100mm focal length lens, so your camera is far enough from balloons and safe from splashes. You need two flashes and a sound trigger like MIPOS Smart+ to trigger the camera.
Finally, you'll need a room that is dark and where you can easily clean the mess you'll make!
Okay, now it's time to set up everything. First, you need to fill balloons with water or air and keep them aside. Now place your background paper/cloth far enough from the balloons.
Now set your camera on a tripod with a medium lens so your camera will be far from the balloons and can be safe from water or color splashes. Place two flashes at a forty-five-degree angle on both sides of the balloons, set the flash to 1/32 or less, and make sure you cover your flashes with plastic bags.
One flash will work as the main light source, and other will act as a fill flash. The power of fill flash should be half of the main flash. So, if your main flash is at 1/32 power, the fill flash should be set to 1/64.
Aperture – f/8 – f/11 for a greater depth of field.
Shutter speed – 1/250 or whatever your camera's flash sync speed .
ISO – 100 or lowest possible according to the light.
Now attach the MIOPS Smart trigger to your camera and use it in sound mode. Set Sensitivity to 40-50 percent and delay to 10-15 milliseconds. You may need to adjust these settings to your requirements. Like, for example, the delay; if you want to capture the action as soon as the balloon bursts, you need to set less time for delay, but if you want to capture only the water shape, you need to set the delay slightly longer.
You have two options when using the sound trigger mode. The first option is to control your camera using the trigger, and you'll be free to burst the balloons. In this case, your camera's lag time will be important as it will cause latency to catch the moment.
Another option is to set your camera on bulb mode and use the trigger to fire the flashes. In this case, you need first to open the shutter, and then burst the balloon. An assistant could be really helpful in this case.
You can use both methods for high-speed balloon photography, however, the second option is recommended to eliminate the latency caused by your camera's lag time.
When everything is setup, all you need to do is tie the balloon on your stand or rope, set your focus manually, and burst the balloon using a pin. MIPOS Smart+ will trigger the camera or fire the flashes when the balloon bursts. You may miss a few shots when you start but after tweaking the settings of the trigger, you'll start getting results.
Let's start popping balloons and share your pictures with us. We are going to share more high-speed photography tutorials like high-speed ballistics photography and high-speed water photography soon.
© Ramakant Sharda – http://ClickManic.com
Ramakant Sharda is an author, iOS App publisher, passionate photographer and a MIOPS Ambassador based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. His work has been published in various magazines, newspapers, and blogs. He has published three Coffee Table Books, he writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. Check out his website http://ClickManic.com to see the masterpieces created by him or download his free app for iPhone and iPad “30 Days to an Ace Photographer“.