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Bullet Time Photography
December 9, 2002 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Bullets Frozen in Mid-Impact. This may have been posted before, but I couldn't find it; it's a series of photographs of bullets hitting objects, taken with a VERY high speed camera, frozen in mid-impact. This is NOT, for the record, an invitation to discuss your POV on gun control.
posted by jonson (33 comments total)

 
Well. So much for my homebrew schematics for body armor made out of gelatin, oranges and modeling wax.

I want to play with one of those high-speed photography system. My own camera won't sync with flash at speeds above 1/250 second.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 9:58 AM on December 9, 2002


sweeeeeeet... i think the next james bond movie should be titled From A Bullet to A Goldfish.
posted by condour75 at 10:05 AM on December 9, 2002


"Honey, would you shoot me up some orange juice and eggs? The .444 Marlin's next to the fridge, and Timmy has the Remington in his bedroom."
posted by gottabefunky at 10:05 AM on December 9, 2002


.50 BMG through some Van Camp's pork and beans is what I'd really like to see.
posted by alumshubby at 10:09 AM on December 9, 2002


Trajectory/Ext Ballistics
posted by thomcatspike at 10:09 AM on December 9, 2002


Only juice remains, as at the picture above, from the tropical fruit.

Priceless.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:10 AM on December 9, 2002


Good night, Doc Edgerton, where ever you are.

As an aside, and in no way attempting to derail, back when I was in photography school, Doc Edgerton came and spoke, and brought with him one of his high powered flash units and a kid's wading pool. After he filled the pool with water, and aimed the flash away from all of us, he gave a talk about his life's work, including the innovative work he did with high powered flash nighttime reconnaissance photography during ww2 and high speed photography, freezing bullets in mid-air. Half way through the talk, he walked over to the wading pool, and draped a newspaper over a long yard stick, and held it about 3 feet in front of the flash unit, and set it off. We were all blinded for a moment, but once we could see again, the newspaper was in flames. Then he just continued with his lecture.
posted by crunchland at 10:12 AM on December 9, 2002


Caption next to the last picture (Coke can): "Compared to all pictures above.. this one is the most amazing."

Statements like that always make me chuckle. "Oh, so that's the most amazing one. Here I thought it was the one with the egg!"
posted by pardonyou? at 10:19 AM on December 9, 2002



I want to play with one of those high-speed photography system. My own camera won't sync with flash at speeds above 1/250 second.


I don't think these are made by syncing the flash with the shutter. Instead, i think they use a bulb exposure in a perfectly dark environment, with some gizmo to trigger a high speed flash. Does anybody know more about this?
posted by astirling at 10:20 AM on December 9, 2002


What's up with the one on the bottom? What is this Eight Crazy Nights?
posted by dgaicun at 10:25 AM on December 9, 2002


the most convincing argument I've ever seen in favour of the right of citrus fruits to bear arms in self defence
posted by gravelshoes at 10:28 AM on December 9, 2002


I thought the most amazing one was the fish...
posted by dabitch at 10:29 AM on December 9, 2002


astirling: Exactly. All you need is an appropriate trigger and/or timing circuit. Sonic flash triggers are relatively cheap; the rest is pretty basic electronics. Manually-set flashes work best.

FWIW, my own (relatively inexpensive but relatively old) Sunpak flash has a duration of 1/16,000 sec at its lowest power setting. Not quite bullet time, but good for some interesting effects in it's own right.
posted by Cerebus at 10:33 AM on December 9, 2002


For high speed photos of destruction, nothing can beat the first 1/100,000,000th of a second of a nuclear explosion.
posted by alms at 10:41 AM on December 9, 2002


*looks at alms link*

*jaw drops*

*retrieves jaw from floor*

posted by grum@work at 10:49 AM on December 9, 2002


I want to play with one of those high-speed photography system. My own camera won't sync with flash at speeds above 1/250 second.

Sound-triggered high-speed flash systems aren't that hard to set up - I did a science fair project in middle school to take pictures of exploding firecrackers, using a sound trigger very much like this one - total parts cost less than $2 or $3.

You handle the sync issues by taking the picture in a relatively dark area and keeping the shutter open using the "bulb" setting; just open it well before the event, and close it after the flash goes off.

I'm not sure if this system would work with a digital camera; I suppose if you got one that let you manually set the exposure and focus and stuff there's no reason why it wouldn't.
posted by jaek at 10:51 AM on December 9, 2002


This is NOT, for the record, an invitation to discuss your POV on gun control.

Erm...may we discuss bullet control?
posted by Opus Dark at 11:03 AM on December 9, 2002


Bullet Time
posted by matteo at 11:09 AM on December 9, 2002


Technically, "Bullet time" usually refers to the system of dozens of cameras arranged along a path to freeze time and pan, ala the Matrix or Gap commercials. This is stroboscopic photography.

"Projectile of the .444 Marlin with 763m/s shows a much more stronger effect at the orange then the .223 Remington (picture above)."

Much more juicier, too.

Oh, and aims: Great link. This is even more amazing technically because it's not enough to just build and sync a flash to the action. For this shot they had to have an extremely fast shutter. The pictures are even more amazing when you realize that they were taken in broad daylight, but the event was so bright that the only proper film sensitivity for such an exposure rendered black everything not directly illuminated by the blast.
posted by kfury at 11:14 AM on December 9, 2002


Yeah, what matteo said.
posted by kfury at 11:14 AM on December 9, 2002


Don't forget the album cover to Golden Earring's 1980s comeback album, Cut. "You will come to know when the bullet hits the bone."
posted by jonp72 at 11:28 AM on December 9, 2002


Also like Crunchland, not to derail, I was a big fan of Doc Edgerton . . . the original bullet photographer (and strobe inventor, and side scan sonar developer, and the E of EE&G). Here's some more of his work.
posted by ahimsakid at 12:30 PM on December 9, 2002


The whole time I was looking at the pictures, I was thinking about an old (turn of the century?) children's book about a bullet that goes right around the world, causing all kinds of amusing and non-lethal havoc on its way. Google isn't helping much, though this sounds like a reference to it.

And Opus Dark, you reminded me of the Ellis Paul song "Autobiography of a Pistol." It's a crap song, but the last line has a twinge of genius as the gun works out his legal defense: "Guns don't kill people, it's the bullets that do..."
posted by hippugeek at 12:48 PM on December 9, 2002


Check out Chronophotographical Projections; the AM Worthington and Lucien Bull pages are pertinent, as early high-speed photography using spark techniques. If you have Flash, the Muybridge animations are worth checking out: one, a mother spanking her child, uses frozen time, rotating viewpoint - i.e. precursor to Bullet Time.
posted by raygirvan at 2:02 PM on December 9, 2002


I'm sure that he used special film. Just having arseloads of light and a quick shutter doesn't do this. What confuses me is the quality of edgerton's images - they look like they're shot on something with decent grain density.

o<
posted by KettleBlack at 4:20 PM on December 9, 2002


What is scary is that the density of many human body tissues is not that different from the densities of the objects used for these images. Sort of spoils the entire dramatic scene where the sidekick gets shot and 5 minutes later shows up to shoot the villian in the back.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:16 PM on December 9, 2002


What is scary is that the density of many human body tissues is not that different from the densities of the objects used for these images.

Indeed; I kept thinking "head" as I looked at those exploding oranges and eggs. And see Laurie Anderson: "It's not the bullet that kills you, it's the hole."
posted by jokeefe at 7:45 AM on December 10, 2002


the first 1/100,000,000th of a second of a nuclear explosion.

Great link; however, it's just a 1/100,000,000th of a second exposure, not the first 1/100,000,000th of a second.

With the speed of light=3x108m/s, the fireball could not grow to more than 6 meters in diameter in the first 10-8 seconds. I don't know how tall that tower is, but my guess is that the fireball is larger than 6 meters even in the first picture.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:45 AM on December 10, 2002


kfury: FWIW, Edgerton's photos of a nuclear detonation were taken with a polarizing shutter, rather than a mechanical one. Cool technique all by itself, but the photos were (and remain) stunning.
posted by Cerebus at 10:54 AM on December 10, 2002


"It's not the bullet that kills you, it's the hole."

This is incorrect. If you drilled a hole the size of a .45 slug through someone's head slowly and carefully controlling bleeding, the patient would survive it just fine.

It's the shockwave the bullet creates when it hits your non-compressible tissues that kills you.
posted by Cerebus at 10:59 AM on December 10, 2002


I think it's the hatred that does it!!!!

Either that or being shot in the head!!

Who Knows? Not Me! I never lost control!!
posted by KettleBlack at 12:15 PM on December 10, 2002


For Edgerton fans in and around Cambridge, Ontario, his photos are on display from 2002/12/07 to 2003/01/20.
posted by drew_alley at 12:48 PM on December 10, 2002


Settle down, KettleBlack.
O<
posted by yhbc at 12:53 PM on December 10, 2002 [1 favorite]


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