Le Confident

Ideas tête-à-tête

High-Speed Photography

Art really has always been a way to experience something, that cannot be experienced otherwise. In other words, the artist is supposed to provide the rest of humanity with new, virtual realities. They have certain qualities which work on us psychologically in such a way, that we discover things about us and the world by immersing ourselves in the artwork. This is how I judge artists and why I’m generally not very excited about purely traditional art and it’s creators. For me, even the quest for beauty (these psychological factors…) can be rightly overriden by the will to seek novel experiences.

In the case of high speed photography, we will nearly by definition experience things, that are impossible to see with our own unaided eyes. In the pioneering stage in the lab of Harold Edgerton, the interest in this technique was above all scientific, both because it was developped for it’s exactness and also, because it already demanded a certain precision of the photographer to implement. Today, we all can see unblurred water, milkdrops, even lightening with the appropriate equipment.


Edgerton - 2 Edgerton - 3

Today, I did a quick search on twitter, deviantart and some physics news sites to find out, that many photographers use this technology in strikingly monotone ways. Milkdrops and exploding balloons, you will see them around every second corner. This is of course still interesting and worthwhile, especially if you’ve some scientific interests going along, because the behaviour of a volume of small particles is a very important field of research and this kind of art can set wonderful thoughts and ideas on the way. But there are also some artists, which I find extraordinary from a purely esthetic viewpoint. Above all, it’s  Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz, who caught my attention today. He spills milk on beautiful women and choses a shutter speed, with which the milk takes the form of clothing. Imaginative and well done:



Another artist I like is Hten T san. This would have appealed to Andrej Tarkovsky I’d like to think, given his deep sensibility towards water. Here, reflections of people take the shape of blurred memories, somewhat melancholic and uncertain shadows of unknown personae. This works all the more, as the wave patterns themselves are perfectly frozen:

Htet_T_San2 Htet_T_San_1


Let me give you some links to other artist’s that I’ve found today.

Edward Horsford

Build your own high speed gear

Alberto Seves

Peter Schafrick

Turtlevvisperer DeviantART

Same artist, own homepage, in the footsteps of Edgerton

What about video though? Remember how Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes knocked out his opponent in the pit fight he was waging on? You could see the shock waves of the impact on the dude’s face. These would travel at the speed of sound of a mixture of flesh and air I believe, somewhere around 350 m/s. To take a still of this you need a shutter speed of around 1/35000th of a second.  You can see much slower waves at the end of the balloons crumbling and of course the water beginning to move after it’s holding balloon explodes in this 2000 frame per second video:

Now I was asking myself, how far can this be taken? It turns out, that MIT, where Edgerton once began, now people developped a camera, that shoots a picture in a trillionth of a second. In this time light travels a distane of 0,3mm! With this, it’s possible to make a smooth video of light moving through space. The setup is more complicated as for a normal camera: you have a number of cells to which an electric fields guides photons successively. This gives a 2D image of a light distribution. Then the cells move to record the next plane and so on until a 3D movement is built. Look at the striking video here:

and read the whole story: here


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This entry was posted on March 11, 2014 by in Art, Natural Sciences and tagged , , , , .
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