Splash Droplet Photos

Water droplets are beautiful things, though photographing them can prove difficult without a little help. Precise timing is key, and that’s what led [Alex Pikkert] to build a timing controller to help nail the perfect shot.

It’s a job that’s ideally suited for the average microcontroller. In this case, [Alex] chose the venerable Arduino Uno. Paired with a bunch of buttons and a 16 x 2 character LCD, it has a simple-to-navigate interface for dialling in a shot. The trick to splash and droplet photography is to first open a valve to release a droplet, and then fire a flash a set time after to capture the droplet in flight, after it’s hit the surface of the liquid. [Alex]’s design uses a MOSFET to trigger the water valve, and optoisolators to safely trigger the flash and camera.

[Alex] has gotten some impressive results with the rig, and it would serve as a great starting point for anyone looking to get into the field. We’ve seen similar builds before, too. If you’ve got your own fancy photography rig for those otherwise-impossible shots, be sure to drop us a line!

Get Creative With This ESP8266 Photography Light

In today’s fast-paced world of social media, if you want your photos to grab attention, you’ve got to have an edge. Whether it’s a deft touch in Photoshop or an amazing lens, it’s important to stand apart. Another great way is to experiment with lighting and color. To do just that, [Andrei] built a pocket RGB photo light for the home studio.

[Andrei]’s cat models for the camera.
This is a project that any experienced maker should be able to whip up in a weekend. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. The basic enclosure is 3D printed and readily reproducible on any FDM printer. Lighting is provided via the venerable WS2812B LED, 68 of them, to be exact. Finally there’s an ESP8266 running WLED, a webserver for the platform that’s dedicated to controlling LED strips. This makes it easy to tweak the LEDs with your smartphone.

Thanks to the WS2812Bs LEDs, a full range of RGB colors are available for [Andrei] to experiment with. He’s done a great job showing off the light with a few choice cat pics that serve to show its capabilities. While we wouldn’t expect to use such a device for clean white lighting in a serious photographic sense, it’s a perfect tool for art photography.

We’ve covered other studio light builds before, too. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Get Creative With This ESP8266 Photography Light”

DropController Sets The Bar For Documentation

dropController has the kind of documentation we wish would spontaneously generate itself whenever we build something. [Martyn Currey] built a robust rig for water droplet photography, and we don’t want to dismiss the hardware, but the most impressive part might be the website. It might not be very fancy, but it’s thorough and logically organized. You can find parts lists, assembly manuals, tutorials, sketches, and schematics. If only all the projects that came our way were so well detailed.

Water droplet photography is pretty cool, although freehanding it will make your patience fall faster than 9.81 m/s². The concept is that a solenoid valve will flicker open to release a drop of water, wait for a certain number of microseconds, and then trigger your DSLR via a wired remote cable. The tricky part comes from controlling as many as six valves and three flashes. We don’t have enough fingers and toes to press all those buttons.

The bill of materials contains many commonly available parts like an Arduino Nano, an LM2596 voltage regulator, some MOSFETS, an HC-06 Bluetooth module, plus standard audio connectors to hook everything up. Nothing should break the bank, but if money is not an issue, [Martyn] sells kits and complete units.

Waterdrop controllers are not the newest kids on the block, and strobe photography is a time-honored tradition.

Continue reading “DropController Sets The Bar For Documentation”

Art Generated From The Dubious Comments Section

[8BitsAndAByte] are back, and this time they’re taking on the comments section with art. They wondered whether or not they can take something as dubious as the comments section and redeem it into something more appealing like art.

They started by using remo.tv, a tool they’ve used in other projects, to read comments from their video live feeds and extract random phrases. The phrases are then analyzed by text to speech, and a publicly available artificial intelligence algorithm that generates an image from a text description. They can then specify art styles like modern, abstract, cubism, etc to give their image a unique appeal. They then send the image back to the original commenter, crediting them for their comment, ensuring some level of transparency.

We were a bit surprised that the phrase dog with a funny hat generated an image of a cat, so I think it’s fair to say that their AI engine could use a bit of work. But really, we could probably say that about AI as a whole.

Continue reading “Art Generated From The Dubious Comments Section”

3D Printer Revives Large Format Camera

With a quarter-century of more of consumer digital cameras behind us, it’s easy to forget that there was once another way to see your photos without waiting for them to be developed. Polaroid Land cameras and their special film could give the impatient photographer a print in about a minute, but sadly outside a single specialist producer, it is no longer a product that is generally available.  [The Amateur Engineer] sought an alternative for a large format camera, by adapting a back designed for Fuji Instax film instead.

Lomography, the retailer of fun plastic cameras, had produced an Instax back for one of their cameras, and to adapt it for a Tachihara large format camera required a custom 3D-printed frame. Being quite a large item it had to be printed in three pieces and stuck together with epoxy. Then a series of light leaks had to be chased down and closed up. The result is a working Instax back for the camera, which appears to deliver the photographic goods.

We’ve seen a few digital backs for larger cameras produced with scanners, but we rather like this linear CCD one.

New (mis)Use For Lithophanes: Miniature Diorama Backgrounds

What’s better than a well-lit photo of a 3D-printed miniature? A photo of the miniature in a mini diorama, of course. [OrionDeHunter] shows off a clever technique that has something in common with old-timey photo stages and painted backgrounds, and (mis)uses 3D-printed lithophanes to pull it off. What [OrionDeHunter] does is use a curved and painted lithophane as a stand-in for a background, and the results look great!

Lithophanes are intended to be illuminated from behind to show an image, with thin areas showing as lighter and thicker areas darker, but when it comes to high contrast patterned images like brick walls, the same things that make a good lithophane just happen to also make a pretty good 3D model in the normal sense. No 3D scanning or photogrammetry required.

Here is the basic process: instead of creating a 3D model of a brick wall from scratch, [OrionDeHunter] simply converted an image of a brick wall (or stairs) into a curved lithophane with an online tool. The STL model of the lithophane is then 3D printed, painted, and used as a swappable background. When macro shots of the miniatures are taken, the curved background looks just right and allows for some controlled lighting. It’s a neat trick, and well applied in this project. Some sample images demonstrating how it works are just under the break.

Lithophanes were originally made using marble or thin porcelain, but a modern spin has been put on the technique with 3D printing. Enterprising hackers have even discovered ways to add color, too.

Start Printing From Film For Around £100

For the vast majority of readers, the act of taking a photograph will mean reaching for a mobile phone, or for a subset of you picking up a digital camera. A very small number of you will still use chemical film for its versatility and resolution, and we’re guessing that more would join those ranks if some of the cost barriers to doing so could be reduced.

It would be near-impossible to reduce the cost of a chemical photograph to the infinitely repeatable click of a digital camera shutter, but at least if the cost of a darkroom is intimidating then [Sroyon Mukherjee] has an interesting post over at 35mmc about how a darkroom for black-and-white printing from negatives can be equipped for less than £100 ($123). It’s a fascinating read even if your photography remains firmly in the digital, because along the way it explains some of the mysteries of the process. Few people had this type of equipment at home even in the days when most of us took our films to the drugstore, so as time passes this knowledge is concentrated among an ever narrower group.

The guide is full of useful hacks. Finding a second-hand enlarger takes an element of patience, but once it has been secured there are a variety of other essential items. The red safe light can be as simple as a mobile phone flashlight with a red filter, but we learn the trick of exposing a sheet of photographic paper with a coin laid on it to check that no white light is sneaking in. One of the main points of the piece is that there is no need for a special room to make a darkroom, and we take a tour of a few photographers’ set-ups in hallways, bathrooms, and basements.

So if you spot an unloved enlarger just waiting for a hacker to pass by, this might inspire you to do something with it. He doesn’t cover the development process, but if you throw caution to the winds you could always try coffee and vitamin C.

[via Hacker News]