High speed photography is a ton of fun. A while back a bunch of my photographer friends got together for an evening of destruction. This was my favorite image :
Normally a camera with a 1/1000 second shutter speed would only see this as a blur. Even 1/4000 would still get a crappy image. And you would really have to work hard at getting the timing right.
The solution is to trigger a flash based on the speed of you projectile.
The flash at its lowest setting of 1/64 power will yeild a strobe of light that is about 1/10,000 of a second long. Using a timing mechanism which is triggered by the projectile, we can get the strobe to flood the target with light at the moment it is hit.
The setup looks something like this :
Multiple flashes are triggered at the same time with low power to increase the volume of light. You can see the copper 1/2″ pipe which acts as the barrel for the compressed air gun. Next to the tip of the barrel are 4 IR LED’s which sense the projectile and calculate its speed. Flashes are triggered at a set distance. The projectile then continues into a trap to stop a potential ricochet.
Heres a video showing more of the process: