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Thread started 23 Dec 2010 (Thursday) 09:12
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photographing explosions

 
anothernewb
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Dec 23, 2010 09:12 |  #1

not sure where to post this - so if anyone has a better location - please let me know.

I have a chance to go photograph a set detonation coming up soon. And I would like some ideas on how to get some shots.

In my area we've been experiencing some really wet weather for some time now, and we've also had some late season storms with lots of snow and some pretty cold temps. The end result of which is that the local river has a major ice dam that formed.

The river was at flood stage when it froze this fall, and the ice dam has caused about a 5 foot additional rise behind it, backing water all the way to the hydro diversion that serves my town with power and fresh water. if it backs up further, it may freeze up, in addition to flooding out a large development along the river banks.

Efforts to cut chunks out and let the river do the rest of the work has failed, so the decision has been made to detonate some explosives set at the blockage. Due to my job, I will be inside the "safe zone" working with law enforcement and the engineer assisting the explosives expert - which will place me in prime position to get some prey sweet shots. Since I will be closer than even the news crew can get - I might even be able to sell a shot or two the local newspaper or news channel...

my gear's in my sig, and I will have an 85 1.8 added to the list before the time comes to blast. I know it's not ideal for the situation, that would be something with an ungodly high fps for it. Depending on the timeframe I might have the cash to rent a body, but that's a whole nother case of worms learning how to use that in a rush too...

for my initial setup ideas I've been thinking "Mythbusters" type stuff. setting up the camera behind a blind and shooting off a mirror, just in case some blast accelerated lethal icy snowball asteroid decides to head straight for the camera (like it wouldn't!)


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FlyingPhotog
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Dec 23, 2010 09:19 |  #2

Honestly, without you having a very high frame rate (1DMkIII or MkIV shooting jpeg to maximize the buffer), the print media will probably just turn to the TV stations and license a frame of video to run.

I'd be less afraid of projectiles and more concerned with shock damage and if I were to use a rental, I'd be darn sure I had insurance that would cover a rented body in case it gets damaged or worse.

At any rate, I think with the XSi, I'd just hit the shutter between "One" and "Zero" and hope...


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anothernewb
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Dec 23, 2010 09:35 |  #3

you're probably right about the media. I was pretty much just daydreaming about that part anyway. As far as shock damage, I'm a bit outta my knowledge, but I don;t suspect there's going to be a giant blast wave. Outside 50 yards that is, which is about how close I'd be able to get to stable shoreline, the rest is under water. likely I'll be a tad further away. I have no idea how much explosive they will use but if it was more than a couple pounds, I'll be surprised.

good thing about the insurance, will have to check to see if my policy would cover a rental unit, or buy one from the rental place. I have insurance on my cam gear already.


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wescoe
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Dec 23, 2010 09:43 |  #4

anothernewb wrote in post #11502442 (external link)
you're probably right about the media. I was pretty much just daydreaming about that part anyway. As far as shock damage, I'm a bit outta my knowledge, but I don;t suspect there's going to be a giant blast wave. Outside 50 yards that is, which is about how close I'd be able to get to stable shoreline, the rest is under water. likely I'll be a tad further away. I have no idea how much explosive they will use but if it was more than a couple pounds, I'll be surprised.

good thing about the insurance, will have to check to see if my policy would cover a rental unit, or buy one from the rental place. I have insurance on my cam gear already.

I don't know how big of a river or how much ice we're talking about here, but I'm thinking they'd be using a couple hundred pounds of explosives. Water is a great dissipater of energy. You mentioned Mythbusters...did you see the episode where they shot rifle rounds underwater and the bullets went not far at all?

Anyway, I don't have much to add to this particular discussion. With your gear, true execution of a "slow motion" type shot isn't going to be possible. If it were me, I'd just use a lens at a focal length that covered your subject, use a tripod, shoot JPEG and continuous shot and hope for the best.

As far as shock damage, anywhere you're allowed to stand will not be experiencing any sort of shock that is going to damage your gear.


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tonylong
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Dec 23, 2010 09:43 |  #5

One alternative would be to approach it like fireworks -- use a cable release and Bulb mode to capture a burst rather than a flash. Set your aperture narrow and your ISO low to prevent overexposing, then when the time is right press the shutter and hold it for a second or two.


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wescoe
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Dec 23, 2010 09:46 |  #6

tonylong wrote in post #11502486 (external link)
One alternative would be to approach it like fireworks -- use a cable release and Bulb mode to capture a burst rather than a flash. Set your aperture narrow and your ISO low to prevent overexposing, then when the time is right press the shutter and hold it for a second or two.

Assuming this is happening during daylight, I think this method would lead to nothing more than blur...I could be wrong though.


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tonylong
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Dec 23, 2010 09:49 |  #7

wescoe wrote in post #11502503 (external link)
Assuming this is happening during daylight, I think this method would lead to nothing more than blur...I could be wrong though.

Yeah, I guess it depends on what "explosion" means. It would be nice to have two cameras, including one with a high burst rate.


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gjl711
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Dec 23, 2010 09:52 |  #8

I also think that a slow shutter speed will lead to much blurring. I would think that high ISO and the fastest shutter speed conditions allow would get you the best pictures. Stick in burst mode, right at the end of the count down press the shutter and let the buffer fill. Fireworks are an exception because you basically have a fast moving very bright light source so you want to get the trail and not the individual point sources.


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kendon
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Dec 23, 2010 09:58 |  #9

wescoe wrote in post #11502484 (external link)
Anyway, I don't have much to add to this particular discussion. With your gear, true execution of a "slow motion" type shot isn't going to be possible. If it were me, I'd just use a lens at a focal length that covered your subject, use a tripod, shoot JPEG and continuous shot and hope for the best.

As far as shock damage, anywhere you're allowed to stand will not be experiencing any sort of shock that is going to damage your gear.

^^^ that. and the fast shutter. don't think there is too much you can prepare or do in advance. if you are allowed to stand there you shouldn't need to worry about ice shrapnel either.


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kidpower
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Dec 23, 2010 10:30 as a reply to  @ kendon's post |  #10

A couple of years ago a major corporation in my city demolished many huge buildings by detonation over a period of weeks. I and thousands of others photographed them all.

Everyone was close, but a safe distance away. Each detonation went something like this: A public countdown from a huge speaker, a huge groundshaking noise from the explosion(s), for a second nothing making you think nothings happening, then walls start to crack, smoke starts to appear, the cracks start to become very big with more smoke, large parts of the building start to collapse and the whole building is engulfed in smoke. You can't see nothing for 5-10 minutes. The smoke disappears and gradually you see nothing where the building once was.

Each detonation was a little different because the building were shaped differently.

The key time spot came as soon as you here the explosion. I remember at my first detonation everyone heard and felt the ground shaking explosion. But nothing was happening. For a second I relaxed and thought it was a failure. What was happening was that in these cases the explosion worked from the inside out. Once the outer walls started to crack everything came quickly.

In these detonation cases you didn't want to be too close as the smoke would hinder you from getting the big picture.

I shot with a 85 1.8 and a 135L for a couple of them. I didn't use FPS, just snapped many times with good timing. FPS would be nice, but not necessary.

I would think any lens would work if it fits your distance. I would think you want to be far enough away to see it all, yet perfectly focused in with whatever focal length you need.

Ice detonations may and probably are completely different.

The whole thing is over in a matter of seconds (maybe 10 - 20 seconds from explosion).

Good luck. Just sharing some explosion stuff.




  
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kendon
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Dec 23, 2010 10:35 |  #11

interesting obversations, got any pictures to show?

i would guess that the ice explosion would be more violent and sudden, as it is probably more a "blast it to hell"-type of explosion, rather than the precisely calculated cuts into structural parts of the building that building "explosions" are. maybe check some youtube videos to see how the course of events goes?


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tfd888
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Dec 23, 2010 10:47 as a reply to  @ kendon's post |  #12

Not familiar at all with this kind of shooting. The closest I have was from Chinese New Years where they set off these huge strings of massive firecrackers hanging above the street. The result below:

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IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
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If I remember correctly, I sprayed a small burst of shots at as soon as they lit it and then another when they started going off with the 1D2. Could feel some of the shrapnel from the fireckrackers hitting me (though that's small compared to your possible ice :lol:)

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anothernewb
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Dec 23, 2010 11:04 |  #13

From what I have gathered in the meetings the ideal goal is going to be to fracture the base of the ice dam as much as possible and to let the river do the work of removing the leftovers. the dam is near the edge of a development, in a wooded area. with a 5 foot head, the pressure on the dam is considerable. They are planning it for midday to take advantage of temperature.

having not been around many engineered explosions myself, I am expecting to see a puff of smoke with a bit of ice and a huge collapse as the river pushes the broken sections out of the way. What I hope to see is some neat river spray and a fountaining (sp?)type of effect as it rebounds from the shockwave.

sounds like the consensus so far is pretty much what I was going to do. set up on a tripod, weight the thing down to minimize shaking, use my remote and push and pray and burst away. probably going to wind up shooting jpeg since the raw buffer fills up so fast on my cam.


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kendon
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Dec 23, 2010 11:25 |  #14

make sure you can remove the camera quickly from the tripod, the dam collapsing and floating down the river might be even more impressive than the actual explosion:rolleyes:


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Flores
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Dec 23, 2010 11:34 |  #15

my attempt at getting explosions

https://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=973776


depending on the sequence of events, you will probably be able to catch some interesting/useful shots with your camera. the explosive flash will usually last a large fraction of a second (it's longer than a camera flash, for example), so your shutter rate should catch at least a good part of it,




  
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