Alan Sailer was an obscure photographer, shooting stuff with a pellet gun and a home-made microsecond flash. Then the social networks found him. By Rob Beschizza

Alan Sailer says he was an obscure photographer, working in his garage, shooting stuff with a pellet gun and capturing the results with a home-made microsecond flash. All it took was one picture to become a sudden hit on the social networks.

"My boss came by one day and told me my site was getting a huge number of views," he wrote on his Flickr page. "Emails from magazines, newspapers and even Good Morning America started clogging my FlickrMail box. It was very stressful."

Above, a lime and a lightbulb annihilate one another at great speed.

A gelatin-filled Christmas ornament disintegrates on contact with an old keyboard. Alan shoots his amazing photos using a hand-made, high-speed flash, which he constructed after studying articles at Scientific American and elsewhere: "If you do decide to try and build a flash from this information, please be careful. The main storage capacitor is pure death."

A ball of Play-Doh impacts a block of clay at 270 feet per second. Alan uses a Nikon D90 for most of his shots; the flash unit cost him about $300 to build.

Shot from a distance of just a few inches, a key lime makes short work of a slab of beef.

Alan describes this chaotic scene: "A glass and plastic-flower piece of junk gets sent to the dustbin by a fast-moving tea candle."

Some cashew nuts on the kitchen table "attracted my attention," he writes.

To create this chessboard scene, Alan replaced a piece's head with a less solid material to get a better effect. Though he wanted to use a configuration from a classic master game, they proved visually uninteresting. "It is probably an arrangement that is impossible by real world chess rules," he adds. "Deal with it."

This effect was created by loading up a Christmas ornament with paint and shooting it: "I tried dripping some of the paint on a gelatin filled globe, like the Sherwin-Williams logo. Crappy. But filling the globes looks good."