Posts Tagged 'MIT'

dematerialization of fruit and other objects

Despite our constant complaining about the overwhelming quantity and pointlessness of MIT course requirements*, it is on occasion actually not a terrible thing. MIT, being a technical school, requires me to take a 12-unit lab class before I graduate (slight groan). So I opted out of the architecture-building tech lab with Les “is More” Norford which sounded only somewhat interesting and registered for Strobe Photography Lab in the electrical engineering/comp sci department instead. Had it not been for MIT requirements, I probably would have never gotten to around to taking this class and missed out on a long standing MIT tradition.

Strobe photography was largely developed and popularized by Doc Edgerton as a student and professor at MIT. The flash of the strobe is so short, on the order of a 75-250 nanoseconds, allowing us to use it to record extremely high speed events that are not discernible by the human eye in normal lighting. The main challenge is to get the strobe to trigger at the exact moment to capture what you want. Enough talk. Here are the images**.

mapping a balloon pop | synch and delay method
This is six different balloons popping with photos taken at different strobe flash delays. Camera: Nikon on 35mm b/w film

the process of things | multiflash strobe photography
Exposing the film to multiple strobe flashes to capture the process of an action. Shown here: a golf swing, and two bouncy balls dropped on top of each other (transfer of momentum). Camera: Nikon on 35mm b/w film.

milk drops and lighters | high speed video


This is recorded using a high speed video camera, not strobe. Frames were capture at a rate of 3000 frames/second with Phantom HSV recorder. The milk drop is shown here at every 20 frames or .007 seconds. The lighter ignition is shown at every 10 frames or .003 seconds. Hopefully, I’ll get these up in video form too!

bullets | audio triggered strobe
Bullets shot through playing cards, various fruits and peeps with a rifle. Strobe triggered with an audio sensor whose position was adjusted to capture the bullets in different positions. Camera: Nikon D200

shockwaves | schlieren and shadowgraph
For our group final project, we are taking on the ambitious task of imaging shockwaves produced by bullets and discharging capacitors when the sound barrier is broken. The images should be beautiful as long as we get the lighting to work which is proving much more challenging than we had thought. Point source lights! Columnated lights! Ack, I end up just listening to the engineers, but still what I’ve liked most about this class is the technical work that is involved. The images are just a satisfying by product of the calculations.

In a time when photography is so effortless, and oftentimes so careless and nonchalant, it is easy to forget that it was developed as a science. Photography is not only aesthetics, emotion, ideas or intuition; there is real precision, detail, and science in the way it works. It’s nice to be able to understand a bit of that technical side that’s actually quite beautiful.

*One of the things that makes MIT unique amongst colleges is its ability to endlessly generate systems for institute requirements and corresponding vocabulary for those requirements. For example, before I graduate from MIT, I am required to take all my 6 GIRs, 2 RESTs, quite a few HASS, two of which have to be CI-H, 3 of which have HASS-Ds that are from the same category of which there are 6 (be forewarned: not all HASS classes are HASS-Ds and not all classes that seem like HASS are actually HASS, but you can replace a level three language for one HASS-D), 2 CI-Ms, 12 units of lab, and a swim test. Is this gibberish? It is.

**All images were taken by Strobe 4 aka Broken Glass Disposal. Group members: N. Ristuccia, S. Cole, R. Teil, J. Li with help of C. Silcox.

[edit 07.09.09 | Strobe 4 its final project investigated Schlieren imagaing of shockwaves generated by discharging capacitors. Our website provides general theory behind Schlieren, as well as images, and Schlieren set up tips]

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