Ballistic Flash

Using a Mumford Time machine and a ballistic sensor it is relatively easy to capture the flight of a 0.177 air gun pellet going through objects.

The timing on this was planned to make sure the pellet was completely out of the image so a multipler of 8 was used on the Time machine so the pellet was long gone. The internal pressure in the Red Bull can has caused the top to fail.


A light bulb captured just as an air gun pellet exits the bulb on the left hand side. Two Canon 580Ex flashguns were used to illuminate the event and they were set at 1/128 of full power.


A 5 second exposure was taken which allowed me time to manually fire a flashgun behind the cigarette to get the smoke trail and then fire an air gun pellet through the cigarette, this event was captured by a flashgun on 1/128 full power which was triggered by a Mumford time machine.


A playing card being struck by an air gun pellet. In order to get the spray on this image I taped a small teabag to the rear of the card that I had filled with talcum powder.

Two 580Ex flashguns were used both on the right hand side of the camera about 150mm from the playing card. They were manually set to 1/128 of full power to get the very short flash duration required. To trigger the flashguns at the right time the ballistic sensor attached to a Mumford time machine was used.

1 second exposure @ f22 iso 200 using a Canon 40D and 100mm macro lens.


This image is taken with two Canon 580Ex flashguns placed about 100mm from the candle. The main flashgun is triggered directly from the Time Machine and the second gun triggered wirelessly from the first gun.

Both guns were set to 1/128 of full power and a multiplier of 2 was used to trigger the flashguns when the pellet was 200mm (8″) from the end of the sensor tube. The candle was positioned about 7″ from the sensor so the event would be captured after the pellet had passed through the candle.

The ballistic sensor also measures the velocity of the pellet and in this instance it was travelling at 433 feet/sec, that’s approximately 130m/sec. During the flash duration of 1/35,000sec the pellet will have travelled almost 4 millimetres and is just visible at the edge of the spray.

An exposure of 1 second @ f22 iso 100 was used in a darkened room. The camera shutter was manually triggered just before firing the air gun. The 1 second exposure has captured the flame as it was dragged away from the candle wick by the pressure wave from the pellet and the initial impact.


This image is of a small cherry tomato being struck by a 0.177 air gun pellet travelling at 433 fps.

Again two Canon 580Ex flashguns were used to capture the event. One in front of the tomato and one behind to backlight the spray of the juice. Both guns were set on 1/64 of full power and zoomed to 70mm to increase the light on the subject.

Exposure was 1 second @ f11 iso 200 taken in a darkened room. Taken on a Canon EOS 40D and 100mm macro lens. Interesting to see the spray travelling backwards from the entry point of the pellet.


More experiments can be seen here.

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4 Responses to Ballistic Flash

  1. Marty Keeven says:

    You said you used the Mumford Time Machine.
    I would like to know how easy is the time machine is to use.
    Is it confusing when shooting? I am looking to buy the unit,
    but I’m just not sure yet. I am going to photograph a bullet
    going through ballistic gel soon and do you think the
    Canon 580Ex strobes will be fast enough for this type of shot?
    Please respond ASAP.
    Thanks Marty

    Photosbykev response: check your email Marty

  2. syed says:

    its really amazing photos,never in my life i have seen such a photgrs ,great and good workp,keep it up.and get some more stuff to the people around the world to show u excellent talent.

    regards,syed

  3. Pingback: High Speed Flash | PhotosbyKev

  4. Wayman says:

    Excellent and very detailed, Thanks Kev

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