The humble spud gun, which may or may not be illegal to actually use, own or even make where you live, is a wonderful thing. Packed into this potato launching barrel of fun, however is a lot of very cool looking science.
A month or so ago, Destin Sandlin of YouTube’s Smarter Every Day, built one using clear pipes, so that we could see what was happening as he hurled potatoes towards some watermelons. In his latest video, he brings the spud launcher back out with a high speed camera shooting 20,000fps and the results are amazing.
The video is about more than simply showing off how cool potato gun explosions look.
“I want you to understand that [the next slow mo] has enough information in it to provide for several PhDs”
And when you listen to the explanations of the science, you can understand why. It also illustrates why “Spud Gun Competitions” can be so fierce, with closely guarded designs and specifications to help ensure victory.
There’s a lot more to them than one might initially think. Science aside, though, it is very pretty, and while potato launchers may indeed be illegal where you are, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use similar principles to create effects in your photography.
You’ll want to check your local laws if you’re thinking of adding some pyrotechnics to your photo shoot, especially if they’re based on a potato gun. You should also definitely do your research on the physics and mechanics of it all first (not to mention the safety aspects), but fireballs can be very effective in images.
The are, of course, other techniques for creating fireballs in your photos, such as this example using coffee creamer by Benjamin Von Wong and the folks at DigitalRev. I would try to avoid singing your model’s hair, though.
Does fire feature in your work? What techniques work well for you? Let us know in the comments.