High Speed Photography





Introduction: High Speed Photography

About: Hello, I'm Bruce. I'm a student in Belgium. I have a wide variety of interests: electronics, computers, technology, ... In my spare time I spend a lot of time on: projects, exploring the internet, cycling. ...

With this device you’ll be able to:
take pictures from anything you can sense or detect:
- movement
- sound
- …
You don’t need to modify your camera or flash for this.
It’s compatible with the old High Voltage flashes and the new TTL ones.

Why I did this project?
A friend of me who's really passionate about photography showed me some high speed photography examples. And how expensive the equipment you need is.
I said there must be a DIY solution for that and I started tinkering.
We've done some experiments and you can see the results in the pictures below.
for more pictures from Sanne
see here http://www.flickr.com/people/sannegovaert/

After following this instructable you'll be able to make such pictures too!!

What I would do with the zing
If I win the zing laser cutter then my lab is complete, and will I be able to go crazy.
I'll make: robots, enclosures, front panels, puzzles, build kits, moose heads, etch some cool things
I've been waiting a long time to make this instructable so I could join the zing contest and here I'm

Step 1: Laser Trigger (Light Barrier) Sensor

The laser trigger exists of 2 pieces:
-the sensor (this step)
-Laser itself (next step)

See the included pictures for the circuits
You'll need:
  • a phototransistor / photodiode
  • just a resistor like 10k

Step 2: Laser Driver

Calculate the resistor you need with the following formula
R = 1.25V / Laser Current in A

You'll need:
  • A led laser diode (ebay)
  • LM317
  • 1 x Resistor
or you can skip the driver and just use a resistor placed in series with the laser diode

Step 3: Build the Circuits (Arduino)

You can connect everything to an arduino
Or you can make a pcb (see next step) to do the job so you have your arduino free for other projects

connect your lcd to the arduino see the circuit

connect the output of the sensor circuit to the analog pin 0

connect your digital pin 12 to the flash trigger circuit

connect 4 buttons with a pull down resistor to:
- pin6 (delay+)
- pin7 (delay-)
- pin8 (sens+)
- pin9 (sens-)

You can also make a pcb for this i've included the EAGLE files I've used

Step 4: Put Everything in a Nice Enclosure

Step 5: Upload the Code

Upload the code to your Arduino

Step 6: The Set-up

Use a pipette or a bottle with a hole in the top to make droplets.
Make sure they cross the laser beam.

X = the distance between your pipette and the laser beam
Y = the distance between the laser beam and the surface (in this case a saucer of milk)

the external flash is connected to the arduino with a pc link cable (ebay)

Step 7: Some Calculations

Now we want to know how long it takes from when the droplet start falling till it hit the surface.
U can use this formula (see picture)

X = the distance between your pipette and the laser beam
Y = the distance between the laser beam and the surface (in this case a saucer of milk)

A = Gravitational acceleration
to find yours just use wolframalpha
search for: "Gravitational acceleration your country"
(replace your country)

You don't have to make the calculations, because I've made an excel sheet to calculate the time.

Step 8: Results

After some experimenting
this is what we got :D

Post your results in the comments ;)



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    Great ible and wow, BEAUTIFUL photos!!! That mix of colors looks like heaven to me!

    1 reply

    I'm still amazed, how good they look!
    thnx for your comment

    Hi I have just seen this article and would like to build one as per your direction could you supply the code for this as there is nothing on the link


    I really like you article of high speed photography. I want to do the same for my hobby of high power rocketry. I have a 1/4" lunch rod with a light pipe inside. So when the bird launches the launch lug blocks the light. This is sensed by a photo transistor which triggers the camera.

    My problem is I have not found a camera that have fast enough shutter/reaction to catch the bird.

    Any suggestion on what camera to use?

    Rocket Nut

    Where have you found a phototransistor that can stand the 250V trigger voltage of a "high voltage" flash like my old Sunpac 411?


    Hey, I wanna try to make this as my semester project. I'm pretty new to all o this and my only question is: are the buttons and lcd screen really neccessary or could I leave those out?

    Could you provide the schematic for the flash trigger circuits, as I would love to make one of these and the pictures provided are somewhat unclear.

    Amazing Pix

    Just a quick question : How do you trigger the shutter release on the camera? Is it in anyway sync'd to the flash. I noticed you have a receiver with a PC cord connected to the shutter release, but was'nt sure how you were activating the receiver.

    Appreciate your response, and great project once again

    1 reply

    Usualy the technique for this pictures is by having the camera on BULB MODE and then the flash does the rest :)

    It's perfect. Can I see project's video or pictures. Like button function, LCD screen details.

    1 reply

    no there is no video of it
    You just get a "boot screen"
    after that you'll get a screen with 2 variables you can adjust with the buttons

    Hi geo bruce,

    Great images!

    Your photos reminded me of these raindrops hitting my wood deck at sunset. Try capturing this type of photo as the end of rainclouds pass over you and the sun peeks through. I lived in Mons (Bergen) for six years. You'll have the opportunity!

    2 replies

    It's nice indeed, but I maybe going for a picture like this
    that's another cool effect


    Hey Geo Bruce,

    Sure you took the time and created an ible, drew electrical
    schematics, made a laser, applied physics, and performed mathematical
    calculations; but SGMChef took a picture of a raindrop.Give SGM the pat on the back she/he deserves, and see if you can rise to challenge given.