Making the Invisible Visible With a Mirror and Some Science

Have you ever wanted to capture on camera what the naked eye can't see? Derek Muller over at Veritasium has managed to do just that with a basic yet intriguing set-up in his garage.

The whole concept which is based on the Schlieren imaging setup involves a con-caved parabolic mirror, a LED bulb, and a razor blade. To fully understand what is going on here you need to know a little about refractive index and how light passes through various substances and materials at different rates. With the help of a razor blade in front of the lens, some of the light which is bounced off the parabolic mirror is now blocked and these become the darker parts of the image. The light which still manages to pass over and around the razor blade will become the brighter parts of the picture and its the contrast between light and dark which creates the picture you can see.

Muller explains this phenomenon much better than I ever could so make sure you check out the video and marvel at what he has managed to capture. I found the whole concept of being able to make the invisible visible really inspiring and wanted to share it here. As photographers, we are always striving to capture the world in different ways. I think this set-up has some huge potential for capturing some rather different yet beautiful images.

I'd love to hear some suggestions of what you think could work well with this arrangement.

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4 Comments

Robert Callahan's picture

This is one of the coolest garage photo setup projects I've ever seen.

Paul Adshead's picture

Something a little different! Something I'd love to try one day...

Armando Morales's picture

Wonderful article !

Paul Adshead's picture

Can't beat a bit of Science on a Friday!