Scattering Experiments

After working for a while on the theme of Caustics, I became determined to bring a sense of motion to my images while continuing to play with the pure interaction of light with matter. The result is my new series “Scattering Experiments.”


Creating these photos was a lot of fun. The objects being collided are 10 mm diameter glass spheres. I bought them at an arts and crafts store. The basic setup is to have one continuous light and one strobe flashing at between 15 and 30 times per second. The lights are located to illuminate the spheres from the side. Otherwise the room is dark. By using a long exposure, typically about 1 second, the highlights on sphere, created by the continuous light, trace out the sphere’s trajectory. The strobe freezes the spheres at multiple locations along their path. The strobe and the continuous light are located as close to each other as possible so each produces highlights at the same location on the sphere.

The images above were created by tossing the spheres onto a sheet of black velvet. Sometimes I arranged some spheres on the velvet before the toss. The camera was located directly above the velvet, shooting straight down.

The next set of images was created in a more complex manner. The lighting arrangement was the same only now the spheres rolled down two pipes before shooting out and colliding in mid-air. The photo was taken from the side.

In all but the last photo the spheres were contained within a cardboard box after the collision. The collision that resulted in the last photo was so violent that spheres flew all over the room! I’m still finding them several weeks after the photo shoot.

Below is a photo of me operating this crazy device. My left arm is jerking two strings that release the spheres into the pipes while my right hand is triggering the remote shutter release. This is a three-second exposure as the room is quite dark while all this is happening.

Colliding Spheres setup 1 CRW_6883
Doug Stinson captured operating his device for colliding spheres

What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.