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Photographer Captures Tiny Lightning Storms with a Mini Tesla Coil

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A violet ray is an antique electrotherapy medical device invented by Nikola Tesla that’s essentially a portable tesla coil. Altdorf, Germany-based photographer Marc Simon Frei purchased a unit from 1920 on eBay and customized it for experiments with photographing electricity at home.

Frei generated electrical discharges in various ways and forms, and then captured them using a Nikon Df, a macro extension tube, and a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens.

“Don’t try this at home,” Frei says, “the high frequency voltage could damage your equipment.” Bringing his camera close to the apparatus also caused his LCD screen to flicker.

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Frei has also experimented with creating miniature lightning at home using some stuffing taken from the guts of a teddy bear as clouds. “I wanted to create a private thunderstorm at home,” he tells us.

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You can find more images from Frei’s experiments and follow along with the series in this online photo album.

(via Marc Simon Frei via Colossal)

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