Daily Picture Show

Water Balloons Without The Balloons

Edward Horsford's high-speed photography freezes the spherical innards of water balloons — just as the balloon skins break open, and just before they splash to the floor. He works at night in his garden in London, using flashes to light the action. Amazingly, he works alone. So how does he do it? And doesn't he get soaked?

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"My camera is really the least important part of the shots," Horsford writes in an e-mail. The trick seems to be in the timing of the flash. He sets a timer on his camera to take a long exposure of 1 to 2 seconds, and if the flash fires within that time, he gets an image. He uses a special gizmo with a microphone that triggers the flashes when it picks up a certain level of sound (i.e., the pop of a balloon). For a more technical explanation, take a look at this article at DIY Photography.

Horsford usually uses a pin to poke the latex, and performs a variety of acrobatics to get everything in the right position without blocking the light or getting in the photo himself. And afterward? He writes, "I'm absolutely soaked and temporarily blinded!"

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