Taking truly amazing photos with a consumer camera

I've seen those amazing high speed camera shots of bullets going through apples, water drops exploding on the surface of a pool of water and time-lapse movies of skyscrapers being built. However, the specialized equipment necessary to produce these images has been out of the reach of normal folks -- up until a dedicated group of programmers came up with software to extend the functionality of the Canon Power Sho

I've seen those amazing high speed camera shots of bullets going through apples, water drops exploding on the surface of a pool of water and time-lapse movies of skyscrapers being built. However, the specialized equipment necessary to produce these images has been out of the reach of normal folks -- up until a dedicated group of programmers came up with software to extend the functionality of the Canon Power Shot camera.

Their Web site, In Brief, gives you a thumbnail of what this open source project is all about:

CHDK is a firmware enhancement that operates on a number of Canon Cameras. CHDK gets loaded into your camera's memory upon bootup (either manually or automatically). It provides additional functionality beyond that currently provided by the native camera firmware.

CHDK is not a permanent firmware upgrade: you decide how it is loaded (manually or automatically) and you can always easily remove it.

The gist is that CHDK is a firmware add-on that can extend the capabilities of a large portion of the Canon PowerShot product line. Developers have added features to CHDK in a low level language (in this case "C") so that others can utilize the new tools in a BASIC-like scripting language to control the camera. The results speak for themselves in the creative ways hobbyists and scientists have applied this toolkit to their passion.

So although this accurately describes the project, it just didn't prepare me for what people have done with this collection of software and example scripts:

*NOTE: I've made an attempt at correct credit based upon the information on the post I got the image from, but I'm not 100 percent sure how descriptive I've been. So if the authors stumble across this post and I've got it wrong, please e-mail me at brian_chee@infoworld.com and I'll be more than happy to change the photo credits.

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Taken by Jose Viana discussion about how this was done can be found here. Yes, this is a bird in flight just emerging from its burrow!

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Lighter sparks photo taken by Coutts

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Water drips frozen in time by Steveo

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