Experimental Underwater Scanner Makes for Beautiful Happy Accidents

If you enjoy strange and experimental photography, Nathaniel Stern‘s work should delight you.

For the past ten years, Stern has been creating experimental image-capturing devices using a conglomeration of hacked-together desktop scanners, battery packs and other various computer components. Once created, he straps these machines to his body and takes them from location to location capturing images unlike any other camera out there.


Stern and one of his five completed scanners, 20′ below the surface. Photo by: Emyano Mazzola

In his latest series, Rippling Images, Stern decided to take his images one step further by venturing to take these experimental camera creations underwater. It didn’t come easy though.

Stern spent months getting certified for a number of open-water diving licenses. And when he wasn’t doing that, he was helping his team piece together what would eventually become the five final models of the device he would be taking underwater.

Made out of everything from welded metal to magnetically-triggered buttons, the devices didn’t actually capture what Stern was hoping for at all. But what they capture, Stern still found beautiful… if not more beautiful than his usual work.

The scratched surfaces of the plastic showed up, unplanned reflections made several appearances, and the images were just overall more experimental than he could’ve ever expected:










Experiment might as well be Stern’s middle name though, so he took everything in stride and used it as a learning experience, sharing his thoughts in a video that we’ve embedded at the top.

It comes in just shy of three minutes, so give it a quick watch to see Stern and his unusual devices at work, and then head over to his website to see more of his work.

(via BoingBoing)

Image credits: Photographs by Nathaniel Stern used with permission

  • Toby Hawkins

    Absolute bollocks. There’s no intent there, just random images. They might have taken a lot of effort to get, but they have no meaning behind them; images I flick through in a few seconds then forget. Sorry.

  • Chuck Coverly

    These are just a mess. Not impressed at all.

  • Pickle


  • Bewar3them00n

    Reeks of art school concept art taken to its soggy nadir.
    I used a flat bed scanner as a camera 15 years ago to take a self portrait, it worked surprising well ( if you kept very still!) and had some great Bokeh!!!

  • Jim Johnson

    Wow. A lot of anger here over nothing. It’s someone’s abstract work. In art theory intention is pretty much not considered any longer. Someone will find them beautiful and fascinating. No one is charging you to look at them.

    These images don’t change my life or cure cancer or anything, but I can imagine them as large prints on a wall. Some have a very pleasing aesthetic to me.

    Why the anger?

  • Brett

    “ugh, not real photos. Where is my next article about how photoshop is bad!?”

  • ThatGuy

    It’s an interesting idea.

  • Samcornwell

    Experimenting with photography leads to lots of discoveries and inventions. Even so, I find Stern’s work quite refreshing.

    If you don’t find some kind of beauty, mystery, wonder or any remote amount of interest here, move on to something else you do. It’s far too easy to be an asshole online.

  • Toby Hawkins

    Perhaps you should re-read your comment before jumping straight into school yard name calling? I expressed my opinion and backed it up with reasoning. Based on the number of up votes and the several comments giving similar opinions, I would say my views are fairly mainstream.

    I believe it important and beneficial to provide opinions even when they’re not positive. Else every comment on every article would essentially read ‘wow, brilliant’, and then what would be the point in the comments section?

  • Samcornwell

    It’s a pity that your response to me was far more considered than your original comment.

  • margaretjkoester

    my Aunty
    Allison recently got a nice 6 month old Jaguar by working from a macbook.this website C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  • flightofbooks

    What a mind-numbing comment.

  • flightofbooks

    Intent is for suckers. And meaning doesn’t mean what you think it means. So there.

  • flightofbooks

    I could say the same about your comment.

  • Bewar3them00n

    Care to extrapolate? Or are you just going to troll everyone’s comments?
    I stand by my comment, some concepts should be left on the drawing board

  • Chuck Coverly

    You could, and we’d still both be right.