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High Speed Photography – Shooting A Light Bulb With A BB Gun (And A Camera)

By Hanssie on October 2nd 2015

In the summers when I was a kid, I used to play with my neighbors all day long. This was the age before cell phones, personal computers, Internet, and 800 channels on TV. We had a Nintendo and a word processor that we took turns typing sentences on, but mostly we opted to play outside with empty boxes, do experiments with soda and Mentos, and shoot my friend’s BB gun. Using the BB gun, we shot a lot of cans (leftover from the soda experiments), and every once in a while, our parents would give us the burnt out light bulbs from the house. We’d grab our treasures and race to the fields to set up our targets. There’s something satisfying about watching light bulbs explode.

My how times have changed. (We walked uphill in knee deep snow to school, too, but that’s a story for another day).


The following video reminded me of my adventures as a child. Of course, I didn’t have an expensive DSLR to document our experiments, and my little portable keychain 35mm camera wasn’t fast enough to capture much of anything at high speeds. To test the new Miops smart trigger and play with high speed photography, Jay P. Morgan from The Slanted Lens, put together a more high-tech version of mine and my neighbor friends’ set up. In the 6 minute video, Jay P. shoots light bulbs with a BB gun and captures it all on his DSLR. Demonstrating how the Miops Smart triggers work, Jay P. triggers the device to go off  when he clapped his hands (like the Clapper -clap on, clap off – for you who are tracking with me on the 80’s nostalgia). The Miops can be set to the level of sensitivity you wish, triggered by light or sound.


For lighting, Jay P. sets up two Dynalite Baja B4’s to light the bulb on each side. Using PocketWizards and the Miops Smart triggers hooked up to the camera, Jay P. experimented with shooting the light bulb at various angles and places to get the look he wanted.

Seems like a fun afternoon experimenting with high speed photography and getting to shoot light bulbs. Literally.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Daniel Thullen

    Hanssie, didn’t your parents ever tell you that BB guns are dangerous? “You could take someone’s eye out!” It’s a wonder how we survived those days. (sarcasm) Thanks for the walk down memory lane (with some new hi-tech devices.)

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  2. Peter Nord

    Guys like shooting stuff. Next time maybe a shotgun. More bang for the buck.

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