I had an idea for an image I wanted to use for the header of the online Awesome Dice store. Rather than just a standard macro picture of dice sitting up at the top of the page, I wanted something more interesting, but still dice-related. I had the idea of an action shot — a picture of a 20-sided die splashing into water, captured at just the moment of dice impact.

Dice Splash

For this kind of shot, shutter speed is never fast enough. Instead I needed a fast flash to stop the motion of the water as the die splashed into the surface. For this kind of shot I had a dark room so I could set the shutter to bulb, open it up, and let the flash fire at the right time. But even a flash isn’t enough — I need something faster than human reflexes (and more reliable than luck) to get the flash to trigger just at the right moment.

This was the perfect time to test out the flash trigger. This is a device my father made, with a tiny microphone with adjustable sensitivity and an adjustable delay. The moment any kind of sound is picked up, it triggers the flash. In this case, the sound of dice hitting the water.

While the flash trigger worked admirably to pick up the sound of awesome D&D dice splashing, there were some complications. The sound of the camera shutter triggering was also enough to set of the flash. The workaround for that — for me anyway — was just to snap my fingers, set off the flash, then open the shutter while the flash recharged.

D&D Dice Splash

The other, less anticipated problem was the difficulty of standing in a pitch black room holding dice several feet above the water pan (a cake pan with a black t-shirt in it) and trying to get it to land within just the right four inch area. For that one anyway, I relied on luck.

But happily, I got some pretty cool shots out of it.