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High-Speed Photography: Capturing Motion

Lesson 6 of 15

Shoot: Popping Balloons with Laser Trigger

Clay Patrick McBride

High-Speed Photography: Capturing Motion

Clay Patrick McBride

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Lesson Info

6. Shoot: Popping Balloons with Laser Trigger

Lesson Info

Shoot: Popping Balloons with Laser Trigger

So let's just do a test exposure at three seconds to see what ambient light is coming into the room. Sure, so three seconds, I'm getting there. Let's just take a look and see what this is. So the first thing you wanna do is just check an exposure of the room and see what kind of contaminant you're getting. We should be getting a completely black frame, right, Chris? Yeah, just about. Just about. We have a little bit of contamination which we can't get rid of in this room but hopefully it won't mess us up too much, right. Yeah, that's alright. Screen off, lights off, Chris is gonna count. He's gonna go one, two, three, I'm gonna shoot on four. I'm gonna go one two, shutter, then you shoot. On four. Yup. Put it two seconds please. It's on two. Okay. You ready. Ready when you are. One, two. Oh no fire, no fire, no money, no honey, lights. Squeegee, oh, blow dart on standby. We gotta be really close to it. I think we're just too far away with the, these ball...

oons are small, some of them. I need bigger balloons. Need help tightening that or you got it? No, I got that. Can you drop it down a little bit from the top? Sure, over here? No, right here. I got it actually, alright. So this laser needs to be right against it. That's it, just line it up on that side, Chris. You got it. We got another blow dart coming in. I don't, can you, why, alright. I'm coming higher on this. Got it. 'Cause I just don't like how you're turning that. Come off just a little bit. Let me see here, damn you. Alright, that's money, Chris. Alright, great. Chris, the middle part of the tripod, loosen it, lower it. Thank you. Make sure that's tight tight. That's a little small, yeah, bigger and don't make it such a ball, leave it flat and open. I could show you once more in our next reset but hopefully this will work, alright, we're good, Chris? We're good. We're right on it. Okay, great, what's our millisecond delay on this guy? I think it's probably zero at this time. I'll make sure. We're sending a slight millisecond delay. You're at seven milliseconds. Delay? Yup. Is it on laser right now? Yeah. Yeah, okay. We'll live with that, that might be a little bit late but we'll check it, lights off please, count us in, Chris. Go Chris. One, two. That was it, that was it, thank you, thank you. Oh yeah, that's money. That's money, alright. Nice. Thank you. Lights on, let's get a reset. Alright, beautiful, it's worth it once you get it, right? You kinda gotta fish for it. Yeah we'll do that. Squeegee. Can you reposition me on the other side? Yes I can. Alright. We're right there. Alright, I got a little water in the back here. If I could Squeegee. Yeah. It just looks a little icky. We're getting pretty quick with the reset time. Could you take some of that water off the opposite side? Ready when you are, lights please. One, two. That was it, oh. Oh yeah, that's great. Bellissimo. Alright we still don't have any. Balloon, you have a bit of it at the top. Yeah, lights on please, okay. Let's reset with the Squeegee. Sure. And dry the back. Okay, we got some bigger balloons, awesome. Alright, let's go with no millisecond delay. No millisecond, it's possible too that if you can break it with the knife more from the front, it'll wrap around there. Yeah, I like the darts though. Keep darts coming my way, the darts put the indentation in it which I really dig, thanks. My shoe is so wet right now. Okay great, a little big bigger with the paper, yeah. Can I see a piece of paper? Is that good? No, a little bit bigger than that, yeah. (mumbling) If it's possible using hot lights and faster shutter. You would need a really bright hot light to shooting at 10,000th of a second, right? I mean, you could work shutter speed there but the flash duration is what's freezing us here. I wouldn't know how to do it with hot lights unless they were wicked bright and when you think about needing to operate it at 10,000th of a second, how that would happen, alright, lights off. We have no millisecond on there? None. Okay. I feel good about my blow dart right now. Count us in, Chris. One, two. Thank you. Yeah, that was great. Alright, beautiful, oh that laser's really showing up today, how come it wasn't showing up yesterday, Chris? It's a fair question. I kinda like it though, I think it looks cool. Alright, let me see this one. That's no milliseconds, huh, Chris? No milliseconds. Okay. Let's try it again, give me another. Even a pair of Walgreen's flip flops would make me so happy right now, alright. We got a couple more water balloons possible, yup, great. Cool, let's reset this laser, see where it is. Alright this one should be interesting 'cause the balloon's completely elevated. Okay, thanks, Dee, balloon's coming in, alright. A few questions. We got 10 minutes. I'll take a question right after this balloon while we reset, sure, cool, alright. We got no millisecond delay on it. None. Alright. Alright, om shanti here, we are om shanti. Alright, tighten up, lights. Count us in, Christopher. One, two. Oh yeah, that was it, yeah, lights please. Oh, that's money. Yes. Wanted to get one with the, look at Clay's soggy foot. (laughing) So I would say when you're doing this sort of thing, it would be a great idea to wear flip flops or not a leather shoe, right, let me see that. Alright, crazy, crazy interesting, zoom out there, Chris. Zoom out. You had some questions. Yeah we do. Yeah. Can you tell us exactly what's happening with the laser? How exactly is it triggering? Talk us through that please. Yeah, sure, the Miops Trigger is hard wired to the strobe, the moment the laser's broken and it's being broken right now. The moment it's broken it's firing the strobe. So that's how it's happening. When the balloon pops, the laser is right next to the balloon, this is where it gets tricky. So the balloon pops, his the laser, light fires. Shutter closes, yup. Thank you. Rachel May would like to know do you ever fill the balloon with different types of liquids with milk or water, red, ya know? I have this image of me drinking milk and spitting it in the balloon. I've never done that but it would probably be crazy and I encourage you to check it out. Like a balloon filled with, even colored water would be just a couple drops of food coloring, right, bananas, right, why do this, why I do this when I'm teaching is one, I think it illustrates an idea to the max, right? The same way our next lighting situation does. Two, I think it involves some crazy problem solving in technology that is a part. Photography more than I think any of the arts is a science and there's so much to the science that we can make work for us so I dig that part of it. We are like scientists and two, I think that the kind of pictures, even the apple being shot, that famous MIT pictures, I always thought to myself, how is that done so the power of discovering that and finding myself somewhere even after 30 years of practicing photography, I'd never been before, that gets very exciting to me. Can you reset that laser on that side? Yeah, did somebody's coffee just go everywhere over here? Fair question. Yeah. It looks like coffee is everywhere. Alright, resetting the laser. Yup, we just need to move it outside. Any other questions here? Yeah, can you just explain, Clay, in a perfect world, you would have the studio completely dark? Completely black so that when Chris did that first exposure, we didn't see any light. Some of that light might be contaminating some movement. It might be giving us some trials that we're trying to avoid right, you need me to come up or. Let me see. Yup. Doug has a question. Can you just review when you had it powered all the way up, it was, the flash duration was too long? Yeah. Okay. So when you power down. A much slower flash duration and when we power down the amount of time it takes for that flash to come up and down on that curve is much quicker, right and that's what you wanna work with. So if you're really wanting to freeze action, you're gonna have to turn that on and off again. Sometimes we have to turn the unit on and off for it to work, yup, thanks Dee, yeah. Wanna do once more? Yeah, one more, this one's right on it so it should go. You're at two seconds? Two seconds, right Chris? Any other questions there? Yeah, so how much trial and error should someone expect when they're tackling something like this? I've done this lesson probably five times in my life, maybe six times including today so they should expect it. They should expect it just comes with the territory. And I think that's what people don't get. And they don't push through and I've said it before. Yesterday, they just fail and they give up. You see here, we are pushing through, right, in all humility, right, we are pushing through. So I think that's a part of it, right. Good, better, best, I will not rest until my good is better, my better best, that's our mantra, right, Chris? That's our mantra. That's our mantra. Alright, so this one's gonna be epic 'cause we're close to closing here, alright, lights please. Everyone moment of silence for this balloon. Okay, go Chris. One, two. That felt good. It felt great. Oh, that's what I wanted, thank God, you appeared. Alright, one more folks, reset quick, lights. We need another big balloon. Yeah, it's coming, yup, just unstamp. Yes, what is that? That's crazy. What is it? What supernatural strange object from another world is that? Look at that rip through the balloon where it popped and this is a little bit I think from out light leak. See, we're getting a little bit of movement here. And that's from the contamination of our light. Whoa, crazy, alright, alright, one more, last one. How did this coffee get everywhere? There's coffee all over my set, what happened? I can't work this way. (laughing) I can't work this way. Can we get three milliseconds on that? Yeah. But you see, I think the longer we go, the more we're starting to nail it too. I think in the beginning, I just had the laser a little bit too far away from the balloon. Right now I have my balloons here, my laser's like right up against it, before I was out here. Even just like a quarter inch or a half inch and the balloon wasn't hitting my laser. And I also think Dee is doing a fine job with my blow dart. To make a blow dart, just we should review this too. It's a small round pin and a small piece of paper that's threaded through, you focusing. Yeah. Yeah. Thread it through the piece of paper. Alright, good. Alright, lights please, just double checking my laser. Looks great, go Chris. One, two. Beautiful. Oh yeah. Okay, lovely, lights on, alright. That's the Death Star. Yup, beautiful. Alright, let's give it up for Dee, give it up for Chris. (applause) Yes, right on, any final questions here? I think we're good, talk a little bit. You talked a little bit about trial and error. Where does patience come into that? I don't have a lot of patience and I think you could feel me in the middle of this just like losing it probably because like I just feel like four or 5, different eyeballs on me virally staring at me like what is this guy doing so I get a little bit impatient. I also just get impatient in lighting demonstrations in general because I wanna get us all there really quick but I'm kinda grateful when it doesn't happen because you just see a guy and even after I've been practicing for this much time, kinda working with stuff and hurting me, not hurting me but just you feel the struggle is real as the kids say, right?

Class Description

The ability to freeze a moment of time can show power, emotion and detail. Learn how to utilize high speed flash duration to create powerful images in a fraction of a second. Through a variety of examples, Clay Patrick McBride will have you experimenting with your photography in a new way. He’ll explain:

  • High Speed Syncing techniques
  • T1 and T2 Flash Duration
  • How to capture the tiniest of details like water droplets or dust
  • Different trigger techniques depending on your unique setup



I enjoyed Clay's workshop, he is very methodical, and had clear simple explanations for the various shoots. I am excited to experiment with different lighting because he made it seem easy. As he mentioned "start small and make it bigger, bigger, bigger. Thanks!

joanne duncan

I agree with Alison, i think this could have been so much better. Too much tampering around on set, i like the small talk and the model talks, love his presence, very charismic, the only thing that kept me watching although i did fast forward some bits. just too slow and not much info.


Watched it live, I thought it had lots of great info. Hoping to buy it soon.