It’s a little bit more of an experimental post this week, something I’ve not done in a while.
This week I’ve been playing about trying to capture party poppers in the process of firing, using my Triggertrap. I bought a Triggertrap a while ago, but I’ve not had much of an occasion to use it. Its main outing for me so far has been timing some long exposures down by the river.
The idea came to me at a family birthday, which saw a bunch of party poppers being set off that I tried to capture manually with my own innate sense of timing, which is good but not that good. Realising I’d need some assistance, I grabbed a few of the party poppers to play about with later.
My first setup connected my iPhone to my camera and set the Triggertrap to sound trigger. This, it turned out, was folly. The act of firing a party popper happens way too quick even for the minimal delay in firing the shutter and all I captured was a bit of smoke. Back to the drawing board.
The answer lay in the Triggertrap flash adapter. The flash can fire pretty quickly compared to the shutter, so instead the way to do it was to connect my iPhone to the flash, still set for sound trigger, then pre-focus the camera and set it for a four second exposure. Make the room dark enough – much easier at this time of year when the sun devotes more of its time to keeping people in the southern hemisphere warm – and all you’ll see is what was illuminated for the split second the flash fired. This worked much better.
As you can see, the focus isn’t quite right – I need to work on my prefocussing, evidently. I also decided the background was a bit cluttered and so moved the camera a bit for a slightly neater frame (only slightly neater, I admit).
On one occasion I had set the sensitivity of the trigger a bit too low, and the sound of the confetti hitting the floor triggered the flash a second time, making for a slightly trippy double exposure.
I made several attempts at getting the focus point a little sharper on the confetti rather than the popper itself, but it never really worked too well. These images are pretty passable at this resolution, but take a closer look and they aren’t very crisp.
One of the fun aspects was that it was pretty random as to the shape that the confetti would take as it flew out of the popper. Sometimes they’d spread out pretty far in the split second before the flash went off.
I love that you can see the cardboard disc that formed the bottom of the party popper flying out amongst the debris. The tripod in the bottom right, by the way, is what I was using to attempt to get consistency in where I was firing the party popper, in order to get focussing and framing correct.
Occasionally things didn’t go so well, like this time where the confetti stuck together a bit. I still like the shot as a failure, though.
And this next shot is one of the best ones. The confetti spread out really well, forming a Rorschach-like shape in the air, even if it in’t quite in focus.
I decided to take a break for assessment and save my remaining party poppers for another day when I could try things a little differently if need be. Plus my experimenting had left a bit of a mess that I needed to clean up.
But that gave me one last chance at an artistic evaluation of it.
I’ll definitely be returning to this one again, perhaps with a proper backdrop and some fine-tuned pre-focussing techniques. It certainly has more potential than I’ve been able to capture in these experiments – and I like experimenting with photography and small explosives.
Milking a Splash