Colorful Photos of Paint Being Flung by a Spinning Drill


Swiss photographer Fabian Oefner calls himself a “curious investigator,” and says that his mission is to “harness elemental forms of natural phenomena and capture them in the most stunning way possible.” An example of this can be seen in his recent project titled “Black Hole,” which features photos showing lines of color emanating from a “black hole.”


Oefner shot the photos using paint, a rod, and a drill. After applying colorful globs of paint onto the rob attached to the drill, he switches the drill on and snaps a photo as the paint is being flung away from the rod.




Oefner writes,

The motion of the paint happens in a blink of an eye, the images you see are taken only millisecond after the drill was turned on. To capture the moment, where the paint forms that distinctive shape, I connected a sensor to the drill, which sends an impulse to the flashes. These specialized units are capable of creating flashes as short as a 1/40000 of a second, freezing the motion of the paint.

This short video demonstrates the process Oefner used:

Here are some more of the resulting photos in the series:








You can view the entire “Black Hole” series over on Oefner’s website.

Black Hole by Fabian Oefner (via Colossal)

Image credits: Photographs by Fabian Oefner

  • Joey Duncan

    Fun with Paint! Always a good time!

  • Max

    What a lovely mess.. :)

  • Max

    Did that really need 6 units?

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    6 units?

  • Bill

    This is actually centrifugal force (outward). Centripetal is inward toward the center.

  • wickerprints

    To be honest I wasn’t all that impressed, until I saw the off-axis view. THAT got my attention.

  • Jason Kim

    I was so confused by the title…

  • Michael Zhang

    Thanks bill! We’ve changed it, even though the artist is going with “centripetal”.

  • dudung10


  • Garrett

    Its also not technically a force as described in this situation, although people use it the word force to synonymously describe it as such. It is actually just an acceleration. :) technicalities….. who needs em :)

  • Jeffrey Friedl

    Very cool. Reminds me of a bit of Alan Sailer’s stuff (, which also uses very (very) fast strobes. Alan’s stuff uses high-energy impacts (he shoots stuff in his garage). I probably heard about Alan here on PetaPixel, but if not, PetaPixel should definately cover him…

  • Bill Nye

    centrifugal describes the feeling of the force, centripetal is the actually force

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  • Baz James

    Then change it back. There is no such thing as centrifugal force (unless one is artificially applied). What you are in fact seeing is particles of paint under acceleration achieving escape velocity while under the influence of the competing centripetal force instigated by the rotation, causing the distinctive curving path.

    If a truly centrifugal force was applied, such as a circular magnet surrounding the drill bit (with magnetic paint obviously), then the result would be very different.

    In short, that artist knows exactly what he’s saying and it is both disrespectful and just plain dumb to argue with him!!!

  • Michael Zhang

    We’re avoiding the force altogether. Using “spinning drill” now :)

  • just me

    who cares what kind of force it is. i like the results

  • sshoihet

    It depends on the frame of reference, whether you look at it from the pov of the paint or the outside observer. Outside of high school, you’ll pretty much always deal with centripetal force.

    Also, paint is a non-Newtonian fluid (shear thinning) and it’s viscosity decreases with an increase of stress.

  • Ali ahmed


  • Oj0

    Stop arguing about what kind of force it is. May the Force be with you.

    Those pictures are epic :D