Ka-pow. Bing, Bam, Boom.
For launch shots, I shoot with timing priority at 1/3000 seconds or faster to catch the action. This helps freeze the shrapnel in sharp focus. Typically, I am tracking the rocket by hand with a 400mm zoom.
Rockets bursting in air… In this example, a home-brew motor mixed with 8 pounds of black powder hit a bit of a burp midair:
As the solid propellant motors rapidly rise to full pressure and sufficient heat to melt aluminum, a motor casing rupture can burst a rocket apart from within… leading to a shower of rocket confetti overhead. Or at the pad…
when catching the action in frame is a bit of an acquired reflex, as there is very little warning – just a puff of the igniter from the tail end, then BOOM
The big ones feel like a concussion grenade – like this P-size motor overpressure on the pad:
It twisted the launch rail into a chunk of metal and threw it through the air. But most amazingly of all, the white circle in the dust is the shock wave emanating out at the speed of sound.
And when Hollywood gets involved, you get the Big Bada Boom, as with this staged explosion of a V2-like rocket on the pad, orchestrated by The Discovery Channel…
We don’t normally get to see that as we do not use liquid fuels.