How a Fun Guy Goes to the Woods and Photographs Glowing Mushrooms

I often hear my students lament about how if only they could travel to the rainforest they would find something really interesting to photograph. I tell students “look around where you live – there are wonderful things to photograph everywhere”. The photographers that work with local species often obtain shots that are unobtainable from casual travels. One such example of a unique species that is native to New England is the bioluminescent mushroom (Panellus stipticus). The mushroom grows from fungus and all stages of this mushroom give off light. When the fungus is found growing on logs in the summer,
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How to Capture Heat on Camera Without Expensive Optics

Standard schlieren imaging techniques use a large mirror to be able to visualize heat or pressure differences in air. The problem with these techniques is that they require large precision telescope mirrors that are very expensive. My lab is fortunate to have a 13-inch diameter telescope mirror; but what happens when I need to photograph a larger subject? A modern variation of the optical schlieren technique is to use no mirrors at all but to look at the difference between two digital images. This technique is incredibly easy and was first developed by NASA to look at shock waves created
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Zapping Film with Electricity: How to Make Spark Patterns in Photos

There are still a few very unique and interesting things that can be done with film but not with a digital camera. One of these experiments is the recording of sparks on film. Sparks are created when an electrical discharge moves either through or across the surface of the film. I first got interested in this project when I noticed static discharge patterns on X-ray film. Those patterns were due to the charge buildup on the plastic rollers in the auto development machines, but I wondered could I make better patterns in the lab?
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How to Build a Simple Sound Trigger for High-Speed Photos With Arduino

Are you stressed? What better way to de-stress is there than to break things while making cool photographs at the same time? You can break anything, from spaghetti to fancy glassware, there is no limit. It will take you about half an hour to build the Arduino circuit and write the code for this sound triggering photographic system. This circuit used an Adafruit Electret Microphone Amplifier to detect the sound, and an opto-isolator to trigger the flash. Smash away!

Materials

How to Build a Simple Sound Trigger for High-Speed Photos With Arduino

Are you stressed? What better way to de-stress is there than to break things while making cool photographs at the same time? You can break anything, from spaghetti to fancy glassware, there is no limit. It will take you about half an hour to build the Arduino circuit and write the code for this sound triggering photographic system. This circuit used an Adafruit Electret Microphone Amplifier to detect the sound, and an opto-isolator to trigger the flash. Smash away!

Materials

Use Polarized Lighting Techniques to Capture Cool Color Effects

Polarized light is light that has waves oscillating all in the same direction. There are two basic ways to get polarized light: from reflection or by using a filter.

Amazing colors can be created in frozen ice crystals, which are seen here beginning to form as the water freezes. Under polarized light the ice appears to have many colors within it. The colors are due to the ice crystals being birefringent in polarized light. The water was placed in a clear glass petri dish between two polarizing filters and photographed at about 1x magnification.

When light reflects off water or

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How to Photograph the Power of a Punch Using Polarized Light

Many materials show internal stress when illuminated with polarized light and photographed with a second analyzing polarizer. This unique property of materials is called birefringence. Some of the more common material that exhibits this property is glass, ice, and most plastics. To visualize the pressure created by a professional karate punch, I used a block of clear ballistics gel obtained (sources listed below). The size of the clear ballistics gel is 6 by 6 inches and 16 inches long. The gelatin is calibrated to meet the USA FBI protocol for ballistic testing. I realized that I had to photograph a
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How to Build a DIY Double Water Drip System for High Speed Photos

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In 2002, a renegade science photographer, Martin Waugh, was playing with high-speed photography and discovered he could image two drips of water hitting each other. This special event takes place under special conditions; when a single drop hits a water surface and rebounds up in perfect timing for a second falling drip to collide with the first at its peak of rebound. Martin decided he had to build a special computer controlled dripper to make these collisions and explore the topic photographically. Martin’s drips went viral on the Internet and became the inspiration for numerous arts today. Several companies like Mumford Time systems and Cognisys Inc. make special systems just for this double drip photography. In this article I will explain how you can make your own.

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For this project I made a stand for the dripper that was more complicated than needed since I plan on using it
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The Mariott’s bottle. The center straw is cut to be about 3 cm above the bottom on the bottle on the left.
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Setup to focus camera at the correct location. The falling drips of water will hit the bolt.
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Wiring of the project.
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A nice double water drip collision timed correctly.
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Using Reflectance Transformation Imaging to Shoot Ultra-Detailed Macro

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In this article I will describe how to construct a simple reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) setup using an Arduino microprocessor and a 3D printer. It can sometimes be difficult for a single photograph to adequately record and represent all of an object’s important detail. By using RTI photographic techniques, researchers are better able to enhance an object’s individual topography, texture, and color. Unlike one single photograph, an RTI photographic system may utilize numerous lighting angles to produce sequential images of the same object or artifact that may reveal obscured or hidden detail.
Editor’s Note: This is a very complicated tutorial that is not for the DIY faint of heart, but if you can wrap your mind and skills around it, the results can be extremely cool and useful.
The RTI technique provides a valuable tool for scientists and conservators for the research and preservation of important historical fine art
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