Your First High Speed Photography Accessory – A Contact Trigger

Egg ka-BOOMHigh Speed Photography may seem intimidating with all the high end Arduino Triggers and crazy setups that are going around.

If you just want to have a quick stub at high speed photography, your best chance is probably selecting a subject that is easy to shoot (pun intended) in the dark, and light it using a strobe. “How will the strobe know when to pop?” you ask. Easy, using a contact sensor. Such subjects include thing that you can blow up relatively slowly using an arrow or a slow moving pellet, like balloon, eggs and Christmas ornaments.

A contact sensor is one of the most primitive and easy to build high speed photography sensors and is basically build from two conductive surfaces each connected to one of the strobes contacts. When those two surfaces meet they short the circuit and pop the flash.

This is how the picture in the top of the post (by Henrik Vento) was taken, an arrow hits a contact trigger after passing through the egg and a burst of light is made.

The nice thing about contact trigger is that is very (very) easy to build (about 10 minutes of work and 2 pennies worth of equipment. That is including the two pennies you are going to use as materials.

In the pictorial below, Ian Montes shows us how to easily build a high speed photography contact trigger.

The stuff you need


Strip the wire


Make a hole in the back of the box (we made the box earlier, but really it is just a folded piece of cardboard)


Put the wire through the hole


Add scotch tape to each part of the wire attaching it to the coin




Now paste these two coins to each side of the box




Ball punch