Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The camera as a temporal microscope

For a long time I wanted to take one of those high speed water splash pictures that I've seen other people take. I played around with controlling my Lumix GH3 camera (thanks, Dad!) via WiFi, and considered setting up a microcontroller and a light sensor to time a photo for when an object hits water, like I've seen in some instructions online.

But then I had a much, much simpler idea. Just take pictures in continuous mode. Then if I just drop an object in the water enough times, one of these times I'll capture a nice splash.

I set up a bowl in sunlight, put the camera on a tripod, set exposure time to 1/1300 s, focused manually, and started taking pictures while dropping a rubber ball (to avoid contortions, I used a wired remote). To my surprise, almost every run captured something nice-looking, even though I was only using 6 picture per second mode. And I didn't expect 1/1300 s to be good enough, but it was.

Eternalists like me can think of a still camera as a temporal microscope, stretching an image temporally.

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