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The Big Surprise! by Gil Rebilas


All forms of drag racing, on water, asphalt, sand or gravel have cars running on nitromethane.  one of the things that happen in any of those forms happens when an intake valve sticks open for whatever reason allowing the valve to be open when fuel is ignited by the spark in the cylinder.  It’s called a “Blower Explosion”!  Unlike other explosions, these explosions are ones that I as a photographer can’t be alerted by some telltale sign.  It just happens, some with a big fireball, while others simply pop the injector and blower right off the top of the motor.  I have many in my archives!  I picked this one mainly because I have it caught on video.  At one time in my career, I did some work for a good friend of mine, Dean Papadeus of Main Event Video.  While shooting with a $30,000 TV Camera, I really didn’t want to be caught with my pants down capturing an incident on video and not having anything to show for it in still images, pictures!  So, I bought a clamp that’s specially made for bolting a camera to an immovable object where a camera can be operated remotely.  I took this clamp and clamped it to the handle that’s on top of the TV Camera!  I bought a micro switch and taped it to the handle of the tripod which was wired to the camera tripping system.  I had the camera manually focused in an area where such incidents would happen and would trip the camera if and when something would happen.  Later on, when I went back to shooting with a still camera, I thought now, Wow!  I wish I had that on video.  That’s when I devised what I use today!  I started using it in 1995, with great success!  If this first attempt works for you to see, I will produce more for this publication!

I don’t believe in luck!  I was following this boat at about 220mph with my rig, shooting video along with shooting pictures at 3 frames per second!  Chances are, that if something like this were to happen, there’s that chance that I’d catch it as a still image!  You may think that 3 frames per second is fast, but there’s always a chance that something like this would happen between two of those frames!  In my world, wee call them either the one that got away or it’s a “tweener”!  I put it this way!  If you didn’t see it, you got it!  I’ve got plenty of those and on the other hand, I’ve missed just as many!

Here’s the Still Camera/Video Camera Rig.  The video camera is just on the other side of the still camera.  I line them up before I start shooting and where ever I point the still camera, the video camera follows along capturing all the action while I’m doing my job shooting stills.

After seeing my rig and how flawlessly it works, other photographers are adapting something like this.  However, upon trying this myself, I’ve found that the images are very shaky and the image bounces around a lot.  My rig was manufactured by Slick and works and the image is very steady.  My clips flow along as if I were using a tripod!

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