1500 Pound Camera Takes 10-million images…per second!


Lightning X-Ray

National Geographic. Photo Courtesy Dustin Hill.

Scientists in Florida wanted to measure X-rays coming off a lightning bolt so they decided to take an x-ray image of one. Now, I’ve seen experiments where they fire a rocket into the air; a wire trails from the rocket which produces a static charge and…ZAP!

That’s what they did here (I suspect that greenish trail in the image above is the rocket exhaust), but to photograph it, they had to build a camera. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“You can’t just go buy a camera and point it at lightning,” he said. “We had to make it.”

The resulting 1,500-pound camera consists of an x-ray detector housed in a box about the size and shape of a refrigerator. The box is lined with lead to shield the x-ray detector from stray radiation.

X-rays enter the box through a small hole that in turn focuses them, like an old-fashioned pinhole camera.

Because lightning moves blindingly fast, the camera was required to take ten million images per second.  One challenge in taking such fast pictures is storing the data. To do so, the x-ray detector had to take pictures at a relatively low resolution of 30 pixels…

Click the image for the full Nat Geo article.

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Canon Rebates, A Ton of Light and Amazing Images in Today’s Photography News Round-Up.


If you’re still in the shopping spirit, Canon is offering rebates on the 7D, 60D and Rebel camera with certain lens combinations.

You might remember a past blog post about different services photographers can use to check if their images are being used without permission. Well, now there’s an extension in Mozilla that lets you search various reverse image engines with just a couple of clicks of your mouse.

You have got to check out this commercial by Vincent Laforet. He used 225,000 watts of light to shoot at 600 frames per second. Be sure to check out the behind the scenes video too. I wrote more about it on the PetaPixel blog.

I’ve been following the story of New York Times photographer Joao Silva since he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan. When the story first broke, reports said he kept shooting after the explosion. Now The Times has published the photos leading up to the explosion and the frames he shot just after. Amazing.

I saw this last week, but didn’t want it to get lost in the Black Friday madness. National Geographic is holding its annual photo contest. You can see some of the submissions with captions from the photographers.

If you liked that gallery then you might like Reuters Strange and Unusual pictures of the year.

Lastly, I’ve mentioned The Still Image with Crash Taylor [WARNING: FIRST IMAGE NSFW] in a past blog post. I really like the images because the photographers describe the creative process including equipment, settings and post-process techniques.

That’s it for today! Enjoy.