Saturday, December 22, 2012

Static Electricity Macro Photography

I was reminded this past Wednesday upon getting zapped while placing a key to a lock of an idea crafted three years ago by Mike Hollingshead. After some thought on how to do this with reverse ring, I taped a bent paper clip to a door and angled it as such to where the tip was a mere 1/8th of an inch off the surface of a metal doorknob. With the camera at 800 ISO, F3.5, 8 seconds, I set the timer and hit the release at which point I shuffled around the room to build up a charge. When the camera fired I took another paper clip and brought it close to the taped one to complete the connection while minimizing wire shake. The whole process is much like regular lightning photography and the end video offers additional explanation but what happened was pretty remarkable.

Multiple leaders

Depth of field is insane with focusing being the most difficult aspect.

Pondering how I might be able to incorporate water into the process, I accidentally dribbled some to where a drip hung on the underside. This gave me another idea so I repositioned the paper clip to be directly under it. Having no idea what would happen, I was amazed by what actually did.

Instead of go through the droplet, the current passes around it.

So to reduce nuisance background light, I slipped a piece of black paper behind the setup which revealed something even more peculiar in that a small filament of something is ejecting away to the left of the release point. ISO is at 1600 for this one.

A blown shot with different colored paper for background however, the slight change in depth of field picked up a cascade of microscopic "sparks" exploding from the paper clip tip.

Friday, I made a significant improvement in that I attached a sewing needle to the end of the paper clip. Slight tapping during the connection agitates the spark resulting in the formation of branches. When undisturbed the electricity channels as a uniform release. I took many shots to have successfully replicated this effect.

Micro plasma ball ejects from the source or in effect "ball lightning". This was another aspect that I was able to capture a few times although this one is the best.

After the above experiment, I would move the needle back to the top and incorporate water once again in such a way that unexpectedly blew my mind. Carefully dribbling water from a cloth until a single droplet suspended from the end of the needle, when the release fired, the spark illuminates the droplet as it falls. The longer exposure enables all three aspects to be imaged including final rest.

Saturday and now day three, I set up to record video so to explain all of this and especially the middle image below. Equipment used is simply reverse ring on a Canon 300D with Canon 18-55 for earlier shots that was later switched out to a Tamron 28-80 when the needle was introduced. A remote release is an absolute as the slightest camera tap will throw the whole thing out of focus.

Doesn't get much better than this!

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