Catching a Bullet in Mid-Air

©2010 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

So it only took 719 frames to finally get a picture of a bullet leaving a gun at a police training facility on the west side of Chicago. I believe that light streak at right is the actual bullet. The casing is peeling off from it at top like a space shuttle rocket booster. When all was said and done, I had inhaled enough of the explosion gases and been pelted with enough casings to last me awhile. The paper was doing a look at how police procedures have changed due to improved understandings and best practices. The firing range supervisor didn’t want me to step out too far, and I didn’t have a tripod with me, so I shot backwards with an outstretched arm. I stood on the same line where this recruit was standing. I found that 1/30th worked best since it left open the shutter long to capture the unpredictable moment of the gun flash but without causing too much camera shake. There was no countdown prior to their pulling the trigger, so I laid on the shutter in anticipation of when it would happen. More than a few times, the camera stalled because the buffer would fill up before the actual gunshot. Or even when I did guess right, the flash of the gun occurred between the 8 frames/second and the resulting image was dark. Argh!  I was grateful for digital. Had it been film, I don’t think I would have lasted for twenty rolls, not knowing if I had captured it.