“Photo Grandpa” Shoots with Laser Rigs

Belgian photographer fotoopa (“photo grandpa” in Dutch) shoots ultra-high speed photographs with laser rigs he builds himself. He tells us:

I’m retired, and work inside in the winter making high-speed pictures of water figures. In the springtime and summer I’m outside to capturing insects in-flight. I have a mechanics (15 years experience) and electronics (26 years) background, but photography was always my hobby.

All of my equipment is do-it-yourself. Macro photography has always been one of my favorite types of photography.

Descriptions and diagrams of his rigs are posted for 2008 and 2009. Here’s a glimpse at one of his setups:

To capture insects in flight, his rig detects the insects using two crossed laser beams. This causes a “superfast electro magnet” to trigger the shutter, which opens and closes in less than 5 milliseconds. Shooting at f/22 and ISO 100, he uses 2 or 3 external flashes at minimum power to obtain sufficient light at so short a shutter speed. He adds,

For insects in-flight, a special second shutter system provides the short shutter-lag of ~7 msec necessary. There is also a high-tech IR laser system with an extra third macro-lens and internal AVR controller. In 40 microseconds, this system sees (via the reflected IR light into the detector lens) if an object comes in focus, and give the information to the central CPLD hardware controller that drive the whole system. In this manner even very fast moving insects are in perfect focus in the picture frame.

In the winter, the water figures are done indoors. First done in 2004, I covered a speaker with a membrane, and put a digital wave through it to move the fine colored droplets on the membrane. This provides wonderful images and an unlimited number of possibilities.

For 2010 I built a 3D stereo setup to capture all the high-speed macro pictures in 3D. The setup uses 2 DSLR Nikon cameras, the D200 and D300

To see more of these amazing photographs, you can check out fotoopa on Flickr or on pbase.

(via MAKE)

Image credit: Photographs by fotoopa and used with permission.

  • Stefan

    Wow, stunning shots!

  • Stefan

    Wow, stunning shots!

  • Darla Mendenhall

    I made a huge caca today in the shape of Russ Blevins' face. The caca actually looked nicer and more trustworthy

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  • Skwidspawn

    Comic Sans logo fail.

  • Skwidspawn_h8ter

    Shut up, stupid.

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  • alanknockwood

    Great job!!!
    Thank you

  • jhgphoto

    Grandpa is quite a good technician… the render of the picture is surprisingly very good! Must have some time to prepare the tool!

  • karinwise

    talk about ingenuity… :)

  • Molly

    amazing! it's so impressive that grandpa found a way to use his areas of expertise to cater to what he loves doing!

  • James

    Wow, stunning shots by Grandpa :P

  • jonagod


  • otto

    fotoopa Ich Leibe dich!!!

  • tage01

    well the rig truly deserves the admiration but 5 milliseconds is not THAT fast… its 5/1000 seconds – in other words 1/200.

  • Skwidspawn_h8ter_friend


  • Rose Ann

    Great article and excellent method. Is it possible to disclose more technical details with drawings/circuitry?
    THank you !

  • Jhgphoto_is_a_tool

    You're a tool.

  • Grandpa

    Over my dead body young lady!

  • Grandma

    Rose Ann got Burned

  • Ellesuzanne

    wow. awesome work. thank you for sharing your hobby with us.

  • Ryan


  • Gabe

    Heya admins, what about doin’ something about the Troll you have lurking around?

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  • Raf

    Awesome stuff. Facebook share link is broken though. Might want to fix that.

  • Nash

    sweet stuff just like my ex

  • Troll_hunter999


  • Tager2

    What a douche…

  • Carmen_fradera


  • Alekumpel


  • Alekumpel


  • muzzleboy

    guru ! you are too much i say

  • hank scorpio

    spell check

  • BBakeca

    Wow! This is really amazing!