High Speed Photography without a high speed camera using an externally triggered flash

I wanted to do some high speed macro photography and read online I could do it with an external flash and a trigger, so I tried it out and it was quite easy. Here is how I did it.

How it Works:

In a completely dark room, open up the aperture on your camera and leave it open. The camera wont be able to record anything as its completely dark. Fire a flash unit at a certain time and anything illuminated during the flash’s duration will be recorded on the camera. The trick is to have whatever you want captured triggering the flash somehow so it fires at the right time. Trying to do this manually wouldn’t really work. In my case I built myself a laser tripwire circuit, and a sound activated switch. this is how it works:

1. Open the camera aperture, generally I use a 5 exposure time, use a low ISO (100-200) Aperture F 11-16 and if possible use manual focus, although it has worked without it. If your doing macro it will need to be manual focus.

2. do the ‘triggering action’, in most of the example shots, the action was dropping something onto a hard surface, this could also be firing a bb gun, popping a balloon etc

3. the sound activated switch picks up the noise and triggers the relay

4. the flash fires

5. whatever is illuminated while the flash is on (which is fast) the camera will capture it.


This is what my current setup actually looks like, although I am experimenting with different flash positions as having it further away gives better results.

I have put it all into a 40L plastic box so that I can explode some glass light bulbs without making a big mess. I used a sheet of glass I had around to protect the camera, the sound activated switch is inside a little plastic box with the microphone on the hard surface (a brick)

Some of the shots I have gotten so far using a glass surface and dropping ice cubes (click for big)


Macro Photography with a budget point-and-click camera

I wanted to purchase a new camera with some good macro options to get better project shots. I also wanted to experiment with a bit of amateur macro photography for a bit of fun. But my budget, as always, was about $0.

Project considerations

  • Low cost
  • Can’t modify existing camera
  • Can be removed or attached easily
  • Works…
  • The first thing I needed was a new lens. I picked up a Macro Zoom Ring +10 Diopter from trademe for $15NZD which was pretty similar to this :

    My budget point-and-click camera obviously couldn’t mount it so I needed to make some things….

    First I needed to make a small extension tube for the lens, and some way of mounting it to the camera. Conveniently, the first thing I laid my hands on, the cap of a bottle of degreaser, just so happened to hold the lens quite snugly. I secured it with black electrical tape, and also wrapped the cap with it several times to block out the light. Then, I cut a hole in the top of the cap, around the size of the existing camera extension tubes so that it could fit snugly on there.

    NB: Cutting through the plastic is much easier with the tape applied. It meants it doesn’t crack when cutting it.

    To mount it to the camera, I built a small perspex base that attached to the bottom of the camera and extended forward so that I could attach the lens and its extension tube to it. When I attached the camera and placed the macro lens onto the mount, it seemed to hold itself in there quite well. (although I may add another bolt to secure it firmly…)

    Now all I need to do is turn the camera on, the lens moves into the hole and I can take macro shots!

    Now for some example shots…