California-based Mr. Alan Sailer, 55, is an expert at high-speed photography. He takes his pictures in a dark room while positioned about 20cm away from the target. Using a loaded weapon and a home-made camera, Alan Sailer captures the moment, a series of everyday items explode on contact with a bullet. A laser triggers his Nikon D40′s shutter, while a special flash films the action in slow motion, despite the .177 pellet traveling with a velocity of about 500ft per second. Photography that requires a microsecond flash to capture action moving near the speed of sound is usually high-risk.
Mr Sailer, who describes the process as ‘beyond dangerous, says: “The special item is the flash. It is a home-built unit based on the design of Harold Edgerton. The flash is about .5 microsecond in duration and runs at 17,000 volts. It is beyond dangerous, it’s deadly. The flash is triggered when the pellet from a rifle traveling at about 200 meters per seconds passes through a laser beam. Its the same principle as those beams that set off a chime when you walk into a store”, he continues. The camera is set at one second and an f-stop of 9-13 depending on the reflectivity of the subject. The flash stops the action. The one second gives me time to click the camera shutter with one hand while I pull the trigger on the rifle with the other.”
He said: “The shooting is stressful. It takes time to set up the shot and then, it’s all over. You may or may not have got a good picture and now there is a mess on your set-up, your camera, the garage. I have variable delay after the trigger. So if there is too much mayhem, I lower the delay. Not enough exploding parts, raise the delay.” Mr Sailer, who experimented with a huge range of objects for the series, snapped everything from Bratz dolls to mushrooms in his efforts to take the most visually effective images – and in some cases liked the idea more than the result. Check out his impressive work!