How to Take Awesome Pictures of Fast Action

About: Hi, I'm stephen, I'm a certified welder, working on my machinists cert, and working part time at a hardware store. Mixing in all of that with my hobbies of blacksmithing and knifemaking, only makes for more...

basically I am going to show you to get a awesome picture of something that happens in the blink of an eye. The example I am using is the popping of a water balloon. Interested? read on.

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Step 1: Setup

you will need

safe place to pop a water balloon (I used a tub)

full water balloon

something sharp to pop balloon with

video camera (I used my digital camera)

tripod for camera

dark background (I used a blue towel)

Windows movie maker program (it comes with Windows Vista, you might be able to use a different program, I will just be teaching with this)

Step 2: Take a Video

set up your whole area kinda like mine was and shoot your video. Make sure you are in focus.

Step 3: Load Video Into Windows Movie Maker

this is fairly simple, just look to the right of the screen and you should see under the word import there should be a link that says "Videos" click that link and just open that file.

Step 4: Take the Pic Out of the Video

Start watching the video, when it gets close to where the action happens (like right after the balloon pops) start pressing the left arrow beside the play button to go from frame to frame.
When you get to the frame that you want to be a pic then just go to the top menu bar and look for the "tools" option go down that list until you see "take picture from preview" option, click that and just save to where you want it.

Step 5: Enjoy

you can even use this method to get pics of lightning and such (I am planning on using this to get pics of shooting my .22).

P.S. thanks to PKM for the ideas on the flour and water pics.

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    11 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I used to do this balloon pop regularly in a photo class I taught in middle school.
    If you have a camera that has a Bulb or T setting, it is so easy.  You could do it without that if you can leave the camera shutter open for several seconds.  If you have a camera that has Manual Focus, again it is very easy.
    You also need to have sound trigger made by Wein.  You plug your flash unit into it via a PC cord.  Cut one end of the cord off to expose the wires. 
    1.  Tape the exposed wires to the balloon.  The sound trigger will fire the flash unit.
    2.  Have someone hold the balloon with a pin in the other hand.
    3.  Focus the camera on the balloon.
    4. Set camera on bulb or t.
    5. Aperture is determined by flash have to experiment to get the right f-stop for the flash.
    6. Turn off all the lights.
    7. Open shutter of camera with cable release.
    8. Pop the balloon in the dark.  See flash light up balloon and watch what happens as the balloon flies around. 
    9. Close shutter with cable release.
    10. Develop film or chimp the LCD on the camera.

    My students loved doing this and we regularly got great shots.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    seeing how there was blur in the photo along with the hand an easier way to do this, would be to use an slr type camera, and all full slrs have a mode where you hold the shutter button and the aperture stays open. if you hold the balloon up then use a remote switch and open the shutter, then pop the balloon and let go of the whole remote shutter switch it'll give you great results.. I'm a photographer.. for those that wont believe me, check out thats my site.. and if you check it out let me know what you think.

    2 replies

    i get you, but even on the most basic digital cameras have have a setting to leave the aperture open for at least 10 seconds.. lol that takes some timeing tho.. and for hat i think your way would be easier and i wouldnt have half my equipment without this wonderful site nice 'ible lol =)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    To make this even better get a strobe and use that to light the object.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I would add that you need a camera capable of taking good quality video. My old digital camera took something like 320x240x12fps video that would have looked awful with this technique. Good lighting is probably a necessity for your camera to use a fast "shutter speed" while taking video.

    Other than that, you seem to get good results and it's a lot simpler than my method! If I still had my kick bag I'd try it out.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    A old digital camera might not work but my sony Cybershot DSC w90 (or however that goes) worked fairly good. But a good video camera would probably be better.

    Rob K

    10 years ago on Introduction

    Good to explain it to others. I used the "take picture from preview" of WMM to do the instructabe I did with the rotary switch and diodes.