Sunday, June 28, 2015

Science Photography EdX Course - Week 1

I registered for a Science and Engineering Photography course offered by EdX since I am quite interested in science and nature photography, I've just purchased a macro lens, and I really like the work the instructor has done. Today I completed the first assignment. I will be working with the same object for the duration of the course, so it was important that I choose something interesting and had some significance to me. Fortunately my good wife thought to suggest my great-grandfather's pocket watch, which I inherited after he passed away several years ago at the age of 102. This wasn't his Watch (with a capital W) in the sense of it being the heirloom, since he had several watches and was more of a wrist-watch type of guy, but it still has plenty of significance for me and looking at it now, it could be as old as late 19th century though more likely c. 1930-50. Perhaps I'll be able to discover exactly when it was made while doing this course.

The first assignment was not to use a camera, rather a flatbed scanner. This ended up being a very interesting technique and something I hope to return to in the future. My scanner is capable of scanning at up to 12800 dpi, so ended up with some very large images. A bit overkill, but here is a very scaled down image.

Aside from creating some nice images of the watch face, I stumbled on a pretty surprising effect. Look at the second hand (the inset dial). What is happening here? All the evidence is already in the image, but I'll give a couple of clues. 1) The watch still works 2) The scanner head moves from the top of the image to the bottom. Let me know your analysis in the comments.

And finally, because my artist sister-in-law was over, she noticed the cool moving second hand effect and asked what would happen if I moved the whole watch during the scan. A scan and a bit of photoshop processing later (though not as much as you might expect for this image), I arrived at the below photo.

I just love the swirly chromatic strands on the hour and minute hands.

This course, while very exciting and about which I will be posting frequently, is not the special announcement I was going to make, so stay tuned again for the actual announcement.


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