Posts Tagged ‘light’
This past Sunday, a group of amateur astronomers in San Antonio, Texas successfully “flashed” the International Space Station with a blue laser and spotlight as it whizzed by overhead. While this might sound like an easy thing to do, it’s much more complicated than you think. Astronaut Don Pettit shot the photo of the experiment seen above, and writes,
This took a number of engineering calculations. Projected beam diameters (assuming the propagation of a Gaussian wave for the laser) and intensity at the target had to be calculated. Tracking space station’s path as it streaked across the sky was another challenge. I used email to communicate with Robert Reeves, one of the association’s members. Considering that it takes a day, maybe more, for a simple exchange of messages (on space station we receive email drops two to three times a day), the whole event took weeks to plan.
The International Space Station maintains an orbital altitude of between 205 and 255 miles, so the fact that Pettit was able to see the flash of light from that distance is quite impressive.
“Global Rainbow” is an outdoor art installation by Yvette Mattern that consists of seven high powered lasers projecting a bright rainbow across the night sky. The rainbow was originally displayed in New York in 2009, but has since appeared in cities across the UK. If you’re lucky enough to see the project in real life, be sure to take some photographs — it’s not every day you get to enjoy rainbows at night.
Starting in 2001, photographer Mary Mattingly has created an image every year on the winter solstice — the day of the year when daylight is shortest — showing the first light of the day and the last light of the day blended into a single photo. The series is called “First Light / Last Light“.
France-based photographer Fabrice Wittner has a neat project titled “Enlightened Souls” that consists of ghostly portraits created by light-painting with stencils (which are themselves created from actual portraits). Wittner first started the project in May 2011 after the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.
I first thought of it as an artistic and morale contribution to the 6.3 quake’s aftermath. I used stencils to paint enlightened characters to remember human losses and to show the spirit of a wouned city. It turned out to be an intersting way to share ideas and feelings about society and life. After all, this is what street art is made for.
Heavier tripods are generally more stable than lighter ones — wind doesn’t affect them as much — but hauling them around can be a pain. Instructables user Andrew Axley came up with the brilliant idea of making his simple tripod more stable by adding his own weight hook. The tripod is light when not in use and when you need extra stability you simply hang your camera bag onto the hook. All you need to do is figure out a way to attach a hook securely at the center — Axley chose to drill a hole through the side of the center column and attach an S-hook using a bolt and nut.
Perhaps inspired by the vintage camera nightlights we shared last year, photographer Laura Merz decided to upcycle her old Kodak digital camera by turning it into a nightlight for her house. She writes,
I took out all the tiny screws and gutted the camera very carefully as to not crack the exterior case. Be careful — some of the parts are pretty sharp. Removing the lens is the last step, and allows you to insert a small round night light through the opening. I had to crack off the exterior casing on the night light, but with a little force, it snapped right off.
It’s a creative way to breathe new life into an outdated or broken digital camera.
Here’s an interesting look at the amazing camera being developed at MIT that shoots a staggering one trillion frames per second — fast enough to create footage of light traveling:
[...] the researchers were able to create slow-motion movies, showing what appears to be a bullet of light that moves from one end of the bottle to the other [...] Each horizontal line is exposed for just 1.71 picoseconds, or trillionths of a second, Dr. Raskar said — enough time for the laser beam to travel less than half a millimeter through the fluid inside the bottle.
To create a movie of the event, the researchers record about 500 frames in just under a nanosecond, or a billionth of a second. Because each individual movie has a very narrow field of view, they repeat the process a number of times, scanning it vertically to build a complete scene that shows the beam moving from one end of the bottle, bouncing off the cap and then scattering back through the fluid. If a bullet were tracked in the same fashion moving through the same fluid, the resulting movie would last three years. [#]
They believe that the technology may one day be useful for medicine, industry, science, or even consumer photography.