A California-based engineer has developed a flash that can capture objects travelling at extremely high speed. For him, however, the real fun is in the impact -- a Bratz doll's ear comes falling off, when a marble is shot through her head, and a computer keyboard reacts strangely to a Christmas bauble falling on it
Alan Sailer creates amazing images of everyday items being hit by projectiles.
Using high-speed photography, he can capture in stunning detail the moment items such as marbles and pellets pass through objects.
Marble fired through Bratz Doll, piercing her head and dislodging her ear
The jaw-dropping results include a pellet shredding three cigarettes, a marble destroying an ice cream cone and the shooting of stacks of staples.
Other targeted highlights include cans of drink, ice lollies, a cherry pie and a tub of cream cheese.
Based in Camarillo, California, the 56 year-old is a microwave engineer by day, but pursues his hobby in his garage in the evening.
Getting the shots is all in the timing. Alan opens the shutter on his camera on a one second exposure with one hand, while firing the rifle or air cannon with the other. A powerful flash is triggered when the projectile passes through a laser beam.
Marble fired through egg
His set-up allows him the option to not only fire pellets and marbles at 500 feet per second, but items such as Christmas ornaments filled with coloured gelatine.
Alan began his hobby after building his own 20,000 volt microsecond flash in 2008. He was encouraged when an image he took of a pellet being split by a razor blade caused a stir online.
"I was very surprised at the reaction to the razor blade splitting the pellet shot. It has had over 2,70,000 views and made me a little famous. The shot scared me, I didn't know if pieces of razor blade would come flying out." Contrary to the destructive nature of his work, Alan isn't a fan of firearms.
He explains: "I don't like guns as some people seem to think from the photos. It just that the only way to get great high speed photos is to photograph something going at high speed.
"I've tried to think of a more peaceful way of getting high speed shots, but so far no luck. Even a table saw blade is slow for the speed of this flash."
Despite safety precautions, Alan has had a few close-calls when creating his pictures.
"I have been hit by flying debris lots of times. It's mostly harmless, with a few exceptions. My face is always behind a Lexan shield and I am always wearing ear protection. Once it was hot in the garage and I had my shirt off. I got a few small cuts from flying glass."
"My current favourite is always the next shot I am going to take. However, at the moment I like Keyboard Chaos (a Christmas bauble hitting a computer keyboard) because it looks like its a Photoshop fake. Sometimes a picture just comes out looking like it's not real, which is fun.
"It is fun thinking of new things to shoot, many of my ideas come when I'm doing other things, like bike riding." Luckily, Alan has an understanding partner.
"My wife Kathy is fine with my stupid hobbies. She gets a little worried when I try something especially dangerous, but she seems to feel that I keep trying to make things as safe as possible. I try not to hurry a new set-up like the air cannon and am always thinking about how things could go wrong."