Photography’s essence lies in capturing the right moment. Often life will move quickly, disappearing in a blink,  and we can love capturing images and holding them for future reminiscence.

But what about the times that goes far too quickly for us to record? Moments we can’t photograph with a standard, point-and-shoot Camera or even see with the naked eye? If you were trying to capture a bullet whizzing by you’d probably get away with nothing but the backdrop.

What is Ballistic Photography?

Ballistics Photography relates to the photography discipline associated with taking photographs of bullets that are shot from a weapon and bullets that hit their objectives. The techniques related to taking ballistic-related images are identical to those used for any other high-speed photography subject such as photos of splashing liquids or balloons.

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test Sept. 5, 2016, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Peterson)

Ballistics photography, like any other specialized area of photography, needs a specific collection of equipment. A photographer may also need a cable release and a trigger in addition to a high-speed flash to match the Camera with the event. The trigger perhaps the most critical piece of equipment enables the device to film based on either the noise or light produced from the high-speed event

While a gunshot from a weapon will have a trigger that is programmed to go off depending on the sound of the firearm being fired, if it tries to catch a bolt of lightning, the trigger will be configured to be light-sensitive.

How ballistic photography works?

People took photos of a bullet from one side of an apple, with the apple core already about to burst, and the bullet looking as transparent as if you were keeping it in your pocket. Nature magazines also show photos of frozen birds in the centre of the snow, and you can count on their wings the number of feathers. There are also countless photos of water balloons popping up, smashing wine glasses and just striking the floor with water droplets— stuff you couldn’t see regardless of how hard you are straining. The question is, how are they doing this?

High-speed photography captures these forms of fast-moving objects, capturing events that are typically invisible to the human eye. To analyze physical movement, scientists use high-speed photographs to calculate forces such as surface tension and gravitational effects. The military takes high-speed images to check the precision of missiles and rockets, and at the very heart of nuclear explosions, it is even possible to record what is happening. Often, sports photographers utilize high-speed photography to film fast-moving sporting events such as NASCAR, bike racing and horse racing.

Essential factors for high-speed photography:

It is necessary to first go over the principles of photography and what makes a camera work to understand the nuances of high-speed photography. Below are some factors that you need to consider:

  1. The lens of the Camera:

The most important is the amount of light that is entering through the lens. And how long is the film exposed to the light. The lens is responsible for all these factors, as it redirects the incoming light to form the real image.

  1. Aperture:

The second factor is the aperture. The aperture is responsible for expanding or shrinking the size, and it also controls the amount of light that comes onto the film. The aperture makes the circle bigger when you let in more light and when you want to block out some light, it will make the circle smaller.

  1. Shutter or Shutter Speed:

How long the light is exposed to the film is known as the shutter. It works like a curtain that opens up when the light needs to be exposed to the film and closes when the action is not required. And the other thing is the shutter speed, which determines that how fast the shutter will open or close.


On which factor does the success of high-speed photography depend?

High-speed photography’s success depends primarily on how fast the image is exposed to light. High-speed photographers thus tend to rely on flash units to capture utilizing extremely short flash durations— the smaller the light burst, the better. Just because of that, in total darkness, most high-speed objects were captured.

High-speed photographers rely on luck just as much as a close organization to get that perfect shot, even with very detailed planning. It can take more than a hundred shots to record a perfectly shaped drop of water over several excruciating hours. Though, for some, the chance to stop time and see something that no one has ever seen before outweighs the time spent.

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