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Fashion Photography Rig Turns Out to Be the Best Way to Photograph Monkey Brains

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Mmmm — monkey brains haven’t looked this good since the banquet scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

That would be thanks to the StyleShoots fashion photography rig that researchers at the Netherlands-based Primate Brain Bank used to capture detailed, perfectly posed images of the grey matter of everything from gorillas to tiny lemurs.

Turns out there are lots of biologists trying to understand how primate brains work, but getting access to the correct brain isn’t always easy. Roxana Kooijmans, a coordinator at the PBB, thought a photo catalog of the bank’s collection could help, but she had trouble getting scientifically useful shots — no background, scale clearly presented, etc.


Enter StyleShoots, a Dutch-based firm that has created a photography rig fine-tuned for quickly and accurately taking product shots for fashion catalogs. The rig — which consists of a glass table outfitted with lamps, a Canon 5D on a motorized sliding beam and custom iPad software to control the whole thing — also happens to be an ideal platform for anatomical imaging.

Researchers managed to thoroughly document 46 brains during a two-hour photo shoot this summer. Here’s a BTS video they put together after the shoot:

Anders Jorgensen, head of product development at StyleShoots, told Popular Science he was glad to see what the company’s equipment could do in a totally new arena. “We had been testing with a lot of products, like jeans, pullover sweaters and shirts. It never occurred to us we would be using it with brains.”

(via Popular Science)

Image credits: Photographs by StyleShoots.

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