Nature-Inspired Water Balloon Series

As part of my nature-inspired creative photo series, I popped water balloons with nature’s lightest element—a feather!

A balloon may be easy to pop, but can a feather be sharp enough to pop water-filled balloons? Read below to find out how I went about this project.

You can read about my other nature-inspired series here, where nature defied gravity!

Water balloons are fun to pop, but they are equally fun to photograph. Did you know that when you pop a water-filled balloon, there is one moment immediately after it is popped, where the water momentarily keeps the shape of the enclosure?

As you can imagine, it is a little difficult to photograph as you need impeccable timing to get it right. This photo above illustrates this moment quite well.

The Materials

This project can be done with very little equipment and tools. Here’s what you’ll need to pull this off yourself:

  • Balloons–lots of it, as you will be missing many shots
  • Water
  • Something to pop the balloons with—I used a feather*
  • Dark background
  • String to hang your balloon with
  • Flash capable of using High Speed Sync mode
  • Flash trigger capable of triggering at High Speed Sync mode
  • Camera on a tripod

The Idea

It’s easy enough to photograph a balloon during the day, but I wanted to illustrate Mother Nature’s power by photographing a feather—nature’s lightest element—popping a balloon. I wanted to also focus on the splash of the water as it popped. To do this, I would need to photograph the precise moment of the pop, which is why a high speed sync is necessary for this particular shoot. Each of these images were shot at a shutter speed of 1/5000sec., which the FusionTLC Raven trigger had no problems as it talked to the Profoto A1 flash.

The Backdrop

Traditionally these types of shots are shot on a clean black backdrop, but I much prefer this background that I used. It’s a small detail, but I loved the addition of a shiny black backdrop. The black mesh is actually a mesh shade for our garden, but as it is sheer, it gives off a little shine when light hits it. This in turn brings out a little more interest to the backdrop as you get small specks of blurred light (or small bokeh balls) in the background.

The Feather

While it would have been fantastic to see an actual feather pop a balloon, not even Mother Nature can make this happen. To make this happen, I glued a needle on one side of the feather, and used that to poke at the balloon.

Mystery solved!

The Results

You can see how the needle is not visible in the photo, which is exactly what I wanted. The flash freezes the moment the water is released from its confined state. See the rest of the image in the gallery below.

The Outtakes

Of course not every balloon produced the shot that I wanted. Many times I missed the timing, the needle didn’t puncture at all—or when it did, it didn’t pop the balloon. With just a little persistence though, you’ll be able to pull it off yourself.

The Casualty

Be prepared to get wet. And be prepared for your tripod and gear to also get splashed. I had soil right below the balloon so I had dirt water splash all over my tripod, light, and stands. Note to self: next time don’t do it above soil!

Be sure to wipe your equipment down dry right after you’re done the shoot!

I popped around 11-15 balloons in all!
Here I am right at the moment I burst one of the balloons.

Have you ever tried this shoot before? Comment below and let me know how your shoot went!

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