Dropping or popping a water balloon for a photo

A few days ago I saw an awesome video of a photographer who was popping ballons on models heads to create water wigs. While I don’t have the equipment to be quite as sophisticated in a studio, I also don’t think my kids would pose as my models. Then again… maybe a little bribery would help that situation. 🙂

It was a beautiful day outside, yet my oldest son was moping around. So I volunteered him to help me capture some water balloon splashes. I first had to teach him how to fill and tie a water balloon. He picked it up quick, and before I knew it, he had more than a dozen balloons ready to go. We finished the setup, then he was my designated dropper. We had to drop quite a few of the balloons before we captured one that had the look we were going for, but the cement and water seemed to blend together and the photo wasn’t as dramatic. So I rigged up a wire from our basketball hoop, filled up a dozen more balloons and got set up yet again.

I tried it from a few different angles, but here is the one that I think had the best contrast and look.

Water balloon just popped

Canon 60D | 100mm macro lens | 1/8000 | f/3.2 | ISO 400 | RAW

I used the Tv mode on the camera so I could get the fastest shutter speed possible (1/8000), and I brought the ISO up to 400 so the aperture could be a little smaller to allow me a little bigger depth of field. There are a few photos of the balloon where parts are out of focus, but this photo seemed to work out well.

If you want to check out more of the balloon photos, check out my Facebook page on Sunday and I will share a few more. I will also include the best photo of the dropping balloon so you can see what I meant by there not being enough contrast.

Maybe next time I will get my kids to let me drop the water balloons on their heads. I’ll just need to make sure it’s a hot summer day and the water is refreshing.

~signed, Carltonaut

7 Replies to “Dropping or popping a water balloon for a photo”

  1. Would love it if you could give a quick easy-to-do tutorial

    1. Sure. For the setup, I hung a clothes hanger from my basketball hoop in my driveway, and after filling up some water ballons, I hooked the balloon onto the wire. I set my camera up on a tripod with my 100mm macro lens attached and framed the balloon how I wanted it. I attached my shutter release cable to the camera and held it in one hand, with the push pin in the other. It was a matter of luck from there. I would trigger the shutter for continuous shooting as I moved in for the pop. I would usually get about four photos, but often I would either catch it milliseconds before the needle punctured the balloon, or milliseconds after the balloon had popped and the water was already out of the frame. But I kept trying until I was able to capture a few good ones, as shared in the post and on my Facebook page. I used probably 40 water balloon. Some people who do time-sensitive shots like this talk about getting a sound sensor, so when it hears the pop, it triggers the shutter. I am not sure how much those cost, but I just give it my best shot without it. Hope that helps. If you have any other questions, let me know. And if you give it a try, please share a link to them so I can check them out. Happy shooting.

      1. I am planning to take up photography a bit more seriously and it is always a pleasure when someone gives a push in the right direction. Thank you so much for the tutorial.

      2. Great. I’m happy to help and look forward to seeing any of your photos. Good luck.

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