Art Meets Science In The Cold Wastelands Of Iceland

Although Iceland is now a popular destination for the day-tripping selfie-seeking Instagrammer who rents a 4×4, drives it off road onto delicate ecosystems and then videos the ensuing rescue when the cops arrive, there are still some genuine photographers prepared to put a huge amount of time and effort into their art. [Dheera Venkatraman] is one of the latter and produces composite photos using a relatively low resolution thermal camera and DIY pan and tilt rig.

Whilst we don’t have the exact details, we think that, since the Seek Reveal Pro camera used has a resolution of 320 x 240, [Dheera] would have had to take at least 20 photos for each panoramic shot. In post processing, the shots were meticulously recombined into stunning landscape photos which are a real inspiration to anybody interested in photography.

If you do go to Iceland you might find the traditional food a little challenging to those not raised upon it, nor would you go there for a stag night as beer is eyewateringly expensive. But if you enjoy uninhabitable, desolate, dramatic landscapes there is a huge range of possibilities for the photographer from rugged, frozen lava flows to extra terrestrial ‘Martian’ crater-scapes, if you know where to find them.

[Dheera’s] blog contains some more information about his Iceland photography and there’s a Github repsoitory too. And if you cant afford a $699 Seek Reveal Pro, maybe try building one yourself.

New Contest: Beautiful Hardware

We all have awesome hardware projects to show off. Great photos of them are how you unlock the excitement others see in your work. Whether you’re using a DSLR or the camera in your smartphone, it’s not difficult to capture an amazing picture of the project you pour so much effort into. We want you to unleash your photography skills for the Beautiful Hardware contest. Show us your epic hardware photos and win prizes.

The Skeleton Watch by Mile is a great example of superb photography. Excellent framing, focus, and color make it great.

The only real barrier between us and superb hardware photos is having an eye for framing your shots, and a few simple tricks to get everything else right. Think about good lighting, shooting with an interesting background, framing off to the side and at an angle (as just one example) for more interest, and spending a few moments with an image editor to complement what the camera captured. With this contest, we want you to take those tricks for a spin on your own workbench.

Lee Wilkins put together a simple guide to get you going with spectacular hardware photography. From the basics of photography and the tricks used for making product hype photos, to capturing great images of LEDs and getting the colors just right, this is a comprehensive quickstart. There’s even a collection of great examples to strive for.

There are three top prizes of $100 cash waiting for you. Just start a new project on Hackaday.io and upload the finest photos you can take of some fun hardware. In the left sidebar of that project use the “Submit project to…” menu to enter it in the Beautiful Hardware contest.

The Digital Polaroid SX-70

What do you do if you own an iconic and unusual camera from decades past? Do you love it and cherish it, buy small quantities of its expensive remanufactured film and take arty photographs? Or do you rip it apart and remake it as a modern-day digital camera in a retro enclosure? If you’re [Joshua Gross], you do the latter.

The Polaroid SX-70 is an iconic emblem of 1970s consumer technology chic. A true design classic, it’s a single-lens reflex design using a Polaroid instant film cartridge, and its party trick is that it’s a folding camera which collapses down to roughly the size of a pack of 1970s cigars. It was an expensive luxury camera when it was launched in 1972, and today it commands high prices as a collector’s item.

[Joshua]’s build is therefore likely to cause weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth among vintage camera enthusiasts, but what exactly has he done? In the first instance, he’s performed a teardown of the SX-70 which should be of interest to many readers in itself. He’s removed the mirror and lens, mounted a Raspberry Pi camera behind the lens mount, and a small LCD monitor where the mirror would be.

A new plastic lens in the original lens housing completes the optics, and the electronics come courtesy of a Pi Zero, battery, and USB hub in the space where the Polaroid film cartridge would otherwise be. Some new graphics and a fresh leather cover complete the  build, giving what we’d say is a very tidy electronic Polaroid. On the software side there is a filter to correct for fisheye distortion, and the final photos have a slightly Lomographic quality from the plastic lens.

We like what he’s created with his SX-70 even if we can’t help wincing that he did it to an SX-70 in the first place. Maybe it’s less controversial when someone gives the Pi treatment to a more mundane Polaroid camera.

Gigapixel Microscope Reveals Tiny Parts Of The Big Picture

[JBumstead] didn’t want an ordinary microscope. He wanted one that would show the big picture, and not just in a euphemistic sense, either. The problem though is one of resolution. The higher the resolution in an image — typically — the narrower the field of view given the same optics, which makes sense, right? The more you zoom in, the less area you can see. His solution was to create a microscope using a conventional camera and building a motion stage that would capture multiple high-resolution photographs. Then the multiple photos are stitched together into a single image. This allows his microscope to take a picture of a 90x60mm area with a resolution of about 15 μm. In theory, the resolution might be as good as 2 μm, but it is hard to measure the resolution accurately at that scale.

As an Arduino project, this isn’t that difficult. It’s akin to a plotter or an XY table for a 3D printer — just some stepper motors and linear motion hardware. However, the base needs to be very stable. We learned a lot about the optics side, though.

Continue reading “Gigapixel Microscope Reveals Tiny Parts Of The Big Picture”

Flex PCB Saves Lens From The Junk Pile

There’s a piece of tech that many of us own, but very few of us have dissected. This is strange, given our community’s propensity for wielding the screwdriver, but how many of you have taken apart a camera lens. Even though many of us have a decent camera, almost none of us will have taken a lens to pieces because let’s face it, camera lenses are expensive!

[Anthony Kouttron] has taken that particular plunge though, because in cleaning his Olympus lens he tore its internal ribbon cable  from the camera connector to the PCB. Modern lenses are not merely optics in a metal tube, their autofocus systems are masterpieces of miniaturised electronics that penetrate the entire assembly.

In normal circumstances this would turn the lens from a valued photographic accessory into so much junk, but his solution was to take the bold path of re-creating the torn cable in KiCad and have it made as a flexible PCB, and to carefully solder  it back on to both connector and autofocus PCB. We applaud both the quality of his work, and thank him for the unusual glimpse into a modern lens system.

Lens repairs may be thin on the ground here, but we’ve had another in 2015 with this Nikon aperture fix.

Barn Door Tracker Needs No Special Tools

If you want to take a long exposure photograph, you need a tripod to hold your camera steady. But a tripod won’t help when the ground it’s standing on is moving. That’s exactly the problem [Emvilza] ran into when he wanted to take minutes or hours long photographs of the night sky. His solution was to build a barn door tracker, which he carefully documented in both English and Spanish.

Barn door trackers, also known as scotch mounts have been used by photographers for many years to cancel out the rotation of the earth. This causes stars to appear frozen in the sky and allows for photographs of very dim celestial objects. These trackers range from simple hand-cranked affairs to complex mechanical creations. [Emvilza] decided to have a go at designing and building his own tracker, using only basic tools, as he didn’t have access to a CNC or 3D printer.

The tracker itself is built from wood, with metal hardware. [Emvilza] spent a ton of time designing the tracker using SketchUp. The carefully drawn plans ensured everything would fit together and operate correctly.

One of the toughest parts was accurately bending a threaded rod enough to make it work with the tracker, but not bind the drive system. The mount’s motion comes from a threaded rod. The rod is driven by a stepper motor.  Control and sensing is handled by an ATmega328 programmed using the Arduino toolchain. [Emvilza] learned Eagle and designed a PCB. Rather than etch a board, he simply built the circuit on perfboard, following his layout and traces.

The end result is a tracker that looks and performs great — just check out the images on [Emvilza’s] site to see some examples. Not only that, [Emvilza’s] well written documentation will help anyone looking to build a tracker in the future!

An Easy Camera Slider Build

As smartphone cameras improve with each new generation, making quality video content is getting easier all the time. This means it takes a little more to stand out, so it pays to get creative with your cinematography. A slider is a great way to get some different shots, and you can build one pretty cheaply too (Youtube link, embedded below).

For smooth motion, [Nikodem Bartnik] used aluminium extrusion for the rails, along with some roller bearing wheels designed to suit. The wheels are built into a 3D printed carriage, which is also fitted with a spherical clamping camera mount. It’s all wrapped up with some socket head cap screws and 3D printed brackets to tie it all together.

Dimensional accuracy is key to the smooth operation of a slider, so you’ll want to have your printer set up well if you’re going to attempt this one. [Nikodem] demonstrates the slider is capable of taking the weight of an mid-range SLR with a tastefully sized lens, but if you’re going for something telephoto, you might want to go for something bigger. You could also consider a motorized rig instead. Video after the break.

Continue reading “An Easy Camera Slider Build”