Tuesday 1.17.12

Just when you thought I was going to show more bondage… I bring you another episode of Nerd Studio!

   Once in a while you’ll see those really cool looking shots of something being shattered or splattered and the image is frozen, showing all the bits and pieces sort of stuck in mid air. Awesome. To do this you need to bone up on high speed photography and things like sound sensors and the like.

As usual, things occur to me after I have some failure or accident or make a mess. In this case, I recently accidentally broke a small Christmas ornament. As I was looking at the mess on the floor, I realized that it looked somewhat like these images… only it was flat on the floor. This got me thinking, which usually means I’m about to make another mess. After having done this myself, I can now tell you that I’ve discovered a way for you to not make a mess (well, not much of a mess) and get a shot similar to high speed shattered glass in about 2 or 3 shots.

You need a strobe or speedlight, a couple of colored glass ornaments that did not belong to your Grandmother and are family heirlooms. Go to your local dollar store and find this stuff marked way down. You need a piece of clear sticky contact paper and a method to hold it up. You’ll also need your tripod and perhaps a shutter release.

Here is what you are going to get:

Take your contact paper and lay it on a table. Remove the backing and leave the clear material on the table, sticky side up. Put on some thick gloves. Take one of your ornaments and hold it in your gloved hand. Use the end of something hard like a screwdriver to tap the ornament as if you are cracking an egg. Once it breaks, crush the remainder in your gloved hand and let the shards fall onto the upturned sticky side of the contact paper. Now, do this again with a different colored ornament.

Carefully pick up the contact paper by the corners and let what does not stick fall into a wastebasket. What you have left is what you are going to shoot. Make some kind of stand to hold the clear contact paper up, position your lights and camera on a tripod and have at it.

Images like this can be used as is or for components of other images if you are building an image in Photoshop. Good luck.

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