Stories tagged photography

Jul
09
2012

Ferrofluid + Watercolor= Purty: Photographer Fabian Oefner captures the beautiful effects of combining watercolor and ferrofluid.
Ferrofluid + Watercolor= Purty: Photographer Fabian Oefner captures the beautiful effects of combining watercolor and ferrofluid.Courtesy Fabian Oefner
Ever wonder what adding watercolor to ferrofluid might look like? Yeah, me neither. But photographer Fabian Oefner did, and this is the result – cool, psychedelic, maze-like images!

Ferrofluid is a colloidal liquid that’s made up of nanoparticles of iron, suspended in a fluid (usually water). Because it’s basically liquid iron, it becomes magnetized when exposed to a magnetic field, and ends up looking like a spiky mound. What Fabian did to create these cool images was to inject watercolors into a magnetized puddle of ferrofluid. The nanoparticles of iron then rearrange themselves into channels and pools to accommodate the paint, creating these colorful labyrinths. I highly recommend watching the video that demonstrates this process – it’s mesmerizing!

Feb
13
2010

The Horse in Motion - Edward Muybridge: Eadweard Muybridge used photography to study animal movements - helping to answer a much debated question about whether or not all four of a horse's hooves left the ground at the same time during a gallop.
The Horse in Motion - Edward Muybridge: Eadweard Muybridge used photography to study animal movements - helping to answer a much debated question about whether or not all four of a horse's hooves left the ground at the same time during a gallop.Courtesy Eadweard Muybridge

Scientists who study animal behavior have always had their work cut out for them. For one thing, animal behavior is complex, often involving tiny movements that are not visible to the naked eye. When studying the behavior of animals in groups, this can become even more complicated. Where do you begin to look for patterns? How do you make sense of what you see?

Another difficultly of studying animal behavior comes in designing research tools and experiments that don't interfere with the animal's natural environment. If you've ever tried to walk up to a bird or a squirrel, you know how hard it can be to get close enough to take a good look. The slightest movement or sound, even smells that humans can't smell, can put animals on edge, which might alter the way that they behave.

Over the years, recording equipment and new technologies have made it possible to study animal behavior in new ways. From the invention of photography, which allowed researchers to "freeze" animals and then to set those images in motion, studying how animals move - to newer kinds of imaging techniques that allow today's scientists to observe animal behavior in difficult situations, studying imperceptible changes in their bodies and brains as they move.

This article from The Scientist magazine details how a few researchers have overcome obstacles to studying animal behavior, including the story of a researcher who uses infrared heat-sensing cameras to study the flight trajectories of bats in Brazil. Using ordinary cameras, the necessary lights would disturb the natural behavior of the bats, but infrared cameras give researchers a glimpse of how a very large group of bats behaves at night.

This technology can also be used to study the collective group behavior of other creatures, from very large elephants, to butterflies. Check out the video below to see what bat researchers in Brazil saw when they put these cameras inside a cave.

Feb
23
2009

Lightning better than this: This is how we usually see lightning photographed. Click on the story links to see the copyrighted images of high-speed lightning photography.
Lightning better than this: This is how we usually see lightning photographed. Click on the story links to see the copyrighted images of high-speed lightning photography.Courtesy andrewomerknapp
Have you ever tried to photograph lightning? I have and the results are usually disappointing. But with some new high speed video technology, researchers are able to slow down what's going on with lightning when it strikes. It all looks really cool.

ZT Research in South Dakota is one of the leaders in this effort. Here's a link to its website with some great video and still photos of lightning captured at high speeds and slowed down. USA Today also features a story today about high-speed filming of lightning strikes.

Oct
25
2007

Calling all Science Museum of Minnesota staff and volunteers: do you have a photo of the museum you really love? In honor of the Museum’s 100th anniversary, Science Buzz is holding a behind-the-scenes photo contest. We’re looking for all the really juicy stuff that our visitors don’t get a chance to see, like the towboat being hoisted into place, or fossil crocodiles under plastic before being put on exhibit, or the light filtering into the atrium just so…you get the idea.

Submit your photo before January 1, 2008. All images will appear here, under this post, where people all over the world will be able to see them. Buzz staffers (and maybe Ethan Lebovics, who had the idea for this contest—are you reading, Ethan?) will pick the winning photo on the basis of relevance, artistry, and all-around coolness, and the winning photographer will win an as-yet-undetermined prize. And bragging rights.

Here’s how to enter (it’s probably good to open another window, and follow the steps there so you can still read the instructions without flipping back and forth):

  1. First of all, if you don’t have a Buzz account, you’ll need to register.
  2. Once you’re logged in, come back to this post. Scroll down to the bottom, or click on "add a new comment." See that little icon at the bottom that looks like a Polaroid photo with a green plus sign on top? Click on that.
  3. A new window opens on your screen. At the very top, you'll see a purple link that says "upload." Click that. Now give your image a title, hit “browse” to locate the image on your computer, and give yourself credit for the photo. (Ignore the pull-down menu that says "Buzz Blog Images.") In the field labeled “Body,” give your photo a caption. Then hit “submit.”
  4. Cool. Now you’ve uploaded your image.

You're done! Good luck to everyone that enters. Can't wait to see the photos.

The New York Times has a nice feature on Felice Frankel and how she is pioneering in the use of imagery to convey scientific research. She brings an aesthetic eye to scientific imagery and isn't shy about using photoshop to ethically enhance our view into the microscopic world.

Her website
Feature from Apple computers

Although not the first photographic technique, on Jan. 9, 1839, the dageurreotype process was announced to the world. The dageurreotype became the first commercially viable photographic process and the first to permanently record and fix an image with exposure time compatible with portrait photography.

Dec
08
2005

Ever notice that uncooked spaghetti doesn't break neatly in two when you bend it? Instead, it shatters into several pieces of different lengths. Why?

Researchers recently solved the spaghetti mystery and improved scientists' understanding of how things shatter. Because strands of spaghetti are similar in some ways to lots of brittle objects—from industrial cutting tools to body armor—knowing why spaghetti breaks the way it does may help make those things stronger and safer.

Spaghetti catapult
The researchers clamped one end of a piece of spaghetti in place, and then bent the rod until it was just about to break. Then they let the unclamped end go, and filmed the results with a digital camera that took 1,000 images per second. The pictures showed that the spaghetti rod didn't spring back to its original position like a diving board would. Instead, the release caused ripples that ran down the rod's length and bounced back from the clamped end. The spaghetti snaps where the curvature is greatest—where the ripples from the free end meet the ripples bouncing back from the clamped end. And it happens again in the remaining piece of spaghetti each time the rod breaks. (See some movies of the breaking spaghetti.)

Just getting started
Now scientists know why spaghetti breaks into more than two pieces, but the new research opens up many more questions about how objects shatter.

MAKE IT at the Museum
The recent spaghetti discovery was made possible by an extremely high-speed camera that captured photos of how the pasta bent and broke. On Saturday, December 10, between 1:30 and 3:30, you can make a zoetrope and watch some spaghetti "filmstrips" for yourself. It's free, it's fun, it only takes a few minutes, and you can take your creation home with you when you're done.