In this guide, we will describe how to photograph a bullet shot for creative effects while the bullet has just pierced the target and on air. This Bullet Shot is also known as Bullet Time or Frozen Time. However, Bullet Time is a copyright protected phrase for the movie – The Matrix. The reason is obvious, very few exists who never watched The Matrix. Bullet Shot is a type of High-Speed Photography. We highly recommend to read the linked article for gaining the needed theoretical knowledge. Usually bullet passing through flower, fruits, glasses are mostly taken, but one can compose more creative shots. Using Photoshop can create nice effects without even really firing the bullet, but that is not what we are going to describe.
How to Photograph a Bullet Shot – Gun & Roses
Again, please read the article on High Speed Photography. However, there are specific stuffs needed to be known to Photograph a Bullet Shot. Obviously, there are various types of guns and bullets, pellets etceteras. Quite obviously, it is quite difficult to shot a card – this part requires skill of shooting. Air Gun type guns can throw pellets, which are essentially smaller in size, made of lead. Air Gun usually requires no special license in most of the countries. But, quite obviously not only the
real guns, that is the firearms require license, but also there are various regulations even to fire a bullet. We have no responsibility for the firing a bullet. We will only tell about the technical matters.
Bullet is very fast moving object. That is why, the shutter is locked open for the procedure of taking photograph. No camera possibly exists which has a shutter speed fast enough to freeze a bullet’s travel; also the typical on-camera or studio flash units are adequate.
Set your camera to 1/4000, have your friend stand about 300 yards away from you, and when you see the bullet coming at you, fire the shutter…
– Brian Y, photo.net
Pun is obvious. A beginner can not take a photograph of a bullet passing through a playing card. We need a professional triggering system :
A standard flash like the Canon 580 EX has a xenon gas filled flash tube. Xenon gas glows and that makes the minimum flash duration around 1/50,000th of a second. This not what is what going to do great work for our need. We need a flash duration of around 1/1,000,000th of a second, which can be achieved with special Flash units like Spark Gap Flash or Air Gap Flash. The flash unit uses a high-voltage (~ 20 kV typically) electric discharge between two electrodes over a quartz (or glass) surface.
So, when the trigger is pressed by you in this near automated setup, the Flash will lit up when the bullet is passing. Timing is a very critical parameter for capturing Bullet Shot.
How to Photograph a Bullet Shot – It Belongs to Ballistics
Actually, specially photographing a traveling bullet is the work of the Army Labs of most countries. They have special lab setup with special camera which can take 10,000 frames a second. Unlike our described way, the camera itself is enough to freeze the movement. Pellet can be “frozen” at lower shutter speed than a real bullet. Sometimes, underwater setup is used to slow down the whole stuff.
From our collective knowledge, it is better to try with Air Gun firing pellets with the equipments described under the Guns & Roses paragraph. Not only this is a bit slower to allow you to adjust but also safer too.