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Canon EOS Photo5 Entry 4: “A Confetti Explosion”

October 21st, 2010 by Raj

What is Canon EOS Photo5?
EOS Photo5 is Canon’s annual creative photography competition that begins with a brown box. Inside there are 5 separate photographic briefs to challenge photographers. Visit the Photo5 website here: http://canon.com.au/worldofeos/photo5/

Brief 4: Confetti
This brief is a bit of a celebration. Your task is to capture the confetti in motion. you can use the confetti we’ve included or any kind you want. If you need more add as much as you want. It’s about motion, so your image must convey a sense of movement.

My Entry
For this brief I wanted to capture a confetti filled balloon popping, freezing the balloon & it’s compacted confetti explosion in time. It sounded so simple and straight forward I really didn’t come up with any other real concepts but when it came time to shoot it, well lets just say it was somewhat of a nightmare.

To begin with getting old school tissue paper confetti is not easy to buy anymore! Sure Canon provided a tiny amount and party stores everywhere store the now favoured foil confetti junk cut into shapes for particular occasions like “21” or birthday cakes but after a four day search I finally found some boxes at the Vic Markets.

Next hurdle; getting the confetti inside the balloons. It’s harder than you think and unbelievably annoying! Had I owned a funnel things may have been slightly easier but in the end I spent over two hours using a teaspoon and my fingers to stuff large hand-fulls into about 30 balloons one hungover Sunday morning. It wasn’t pleasant.

Lastly and most importantly I had (which I didn’t even think about before) the issue of capturing everything at exactly the right moment. A triggered flash whilst perfect for freezing time because of it’s concentrated sharp light proved useless as its recycle time was too slow, the camera had to be using its high speed drive so I could take at least 8 photos a second and the flash would only light the first. I ended up using an array of desk lamps kitted out with massively bright white bulbs (5500 Kelvin) position less than 5cm away from the balloon that I’d hung from my ceiling with a piece of string. I had to use a prime 50mm lens so that I could open up the aperture more then normal to let more light in allowing me to use a fast shutter speed (1/2500 second) to freeze everything and even then I had to raise the ISO up to 800 which is why things are a little grainy in the shot.

All that was left to do was to pop the balloon, hold down the trigger and hope for the best but then how was I supposed to pop the balloon without being in the shot myself?? For what I wanted to capture my hand was always going to be in the shot so I ended up sitting next the camera (on a tripod) and throwing pins at the balloon whilst at the same time pressing the trigger to fire the camera. Sound nuts? It was!

I fired more than 450 shots that night, sometimes the balloon wouldn’t pop, the pin would bounce straight off! Others I’d have 8 shot of a pin flying towards a balloon and the next there’d be nothing at all. The actual “popping” was over in less than 1/2500 of a second that I could use without jeopardising image quality any more so I just kept on going, balloon after balloon after balloon. 35 balloons later I ended up with this one. The confetti is balled up barely moved from where it was laying inside the balloon, fragments of the balloon are hitting the wall and the string attached to the mouth of the balloon is swinging out of picture at the top.

I’ve had a few people ask why I’ve included the confetti covered floor in the picture rather than keeping things on a plain coloured background. The answer is that without it a lot of people had no idea that a balloon was involved at all, the pieces of the balloons popped prior litter my lounge room floor and I think it adds to the story behind the image.

Equipment used & settings
Canon 7D with 50mm lens
ISO 800, 50mm, 1/2500, f2.2
4 x Desk lamps with 30W 5500K bulbs
1 bag of coloured balloons
3 x boxes paper confetti (very hard to find I might add)
String

View the other entries

“Ink Mole”

“Bubble Gum Hair”

“A Tree of Smoke”

“Confetti Explosion”

“Beware of falling lemons”
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