Category Archives: Image of the Month

A “Scientific Artist” image that is a memorable achievement.

Image of the Month – December 2012

In keeping with what is up in the sky at this time of year – this month’s image of the month is the Horsehead nebula region in the constellation Orion.  This region of space contains all the different types of nebulosity, dark, emission and reflection in a panorama that looks like an artist’s oil surrealistic oil painting.  We see the horse looking out over a neon-lit (well actually it is Hydrogen lit) landscape, peering into the far distance.  You may purchase any Image of the Month by contacting


Image of the Month – November 2012

The Image of the Month for this month is the high-speed work I carried out imaging water drop collisions under soap bubbles – with a difference.  In this image you can see I also caught the soap bubble bursting!  To prove it wasn’t a fluke (which to be honest, the first time I did it, I thought it was) I have captured the bubble bursting, along with the drop collision three times, under different lighting conditions.  I used the famous Mumford Time Machine to handle all the timings (water drop release, camera firing, flash firing) and used the Canon 5D MkII with a 100mm macro lens to record the action.  Flashes are the Ultra units from highspeedflash dot com and I used three of them, together with colour filters in this work.  I will return to shooting things and recording the high-speed results later in the month.

Image of the Month – October 2012

This month’s Image of the Month is one of my favourite photomicroscopy images.  Taken with a Canon 5D MkII and an L3000 BHTG research trinocular microscope, the image shows Spirogyra in conjugation – Spirogyra being more commonly known as pond scum 🙂  The image is in unusually sharp focus for a microscopy image as I used the “focus stacking” technique together with the remarkable software package Helicon Focus.  For focus stacking you take a number of individual frames with the object in sharp focus from the furthest point right up to the nearest point to the microscope.  Each one of these in focus “layers” is then added to the others to give a totally in focus image using Helicon Focus.  This focus stacking technique gives the photomicroscopist the extreme depth of field of scanning electron microscopy – but with the added benefit of true colour!

Image of the Month – September 2012

This Month’s “Image of the Month” shows what can be done without any specialised photography equipment.  This is a pinhole image of the Sun’s path across my southern horizon taken from the winter Solstice of 2011 until the summer Solstice of 2012.  I used an old tea caddy tin as the camera and Ilford photo paper was used to acquire the image.  I used a tea caddy tin for the pinhole camera so that I could use the photopaper sitting flat in the back of the camera rather than using the paper “curled up” as you need to do if you want to fit it in the obligatory beer can pinhole camera.  The “pinole” was a 0.5mm hole drilled through the centre point of the tea caddy front face using a printed circuit board drill.  After exposing the photo paper for 6-months I cover the pinhole with black tape and bring the pinhole camera indoors.  I quickly open the camera and place the photo paper into a scanner where I grab the image at the highest resolution the scanner can manage.  I then quickly put away the original photo paper image into a light proof container for possible future reference.  It’s then a matter of a little Photoshopping to bring out the image contrast and the “invert” the image to create the negative you see in this picture.  Very simple equipment can give a very effective result.

Image of the Month – August 2012

Sometimes that unique image is just down to being in the right place at the right time.  Here is Neil Armstrong at the Starmus Festival on Tenerife in 2011.

Having happily put this up as Image of the Month – it was an immense shock to hear of the passing of Neil Armstrong just over 3 weeks later 🙁  The world has lost a great man.

Image of the Month – July 2012

This image shows the Deneb region of Cygnus and the data that went into this was just 3 x half hour subs!  This was basically a test-shot to see if the polar alignment of the mini-WASP array was good enough to do half-hour sub-exposures.  As you can see, it was.  However, I don’t think it is up to handling one-hour sub-exposures, and as I want to do some one-hour subs, especially with the narrowband filters, I know I need to tweak the polar alignment a bit more.

Not expecting anything decent image-wise to come out of this data, I hadn’t counted on Noel Carboni pulling out all the stops on this one 🙂  Noel has managed to create a pretty credible image of the Deneb region of Cygnus using some pretty meagre data.  I really wish now that I’d taken 8 hours worth of data that night.

Image of the Month – June 2012

June’s “Image of the Month” is this very high-speed capture of an airgun pellet entering (but not quite exiting) a water-filled balloon.  It is the extremely fast flash duration time of just 9-microseconds (1/111,111th of a second) that allows such dramatic images to be captured – together with the energy contained within the light pulse.  I first made these units around 30 years ago for my brother Alan who wanted portable, high-power, high-speed Xenon flashguns for taking images of birds in flight.  When he first gave me the specs for the units I said it couldn’t be done – but it was such an interesting project that I kept it on the back-burner until the technology improved to the stage where I could hit the spec.  These units are now commercially available from highspeedflash dot com who have the rights to both build and sell my high-speed flash systems.  The image of the water-filled balloon was taken using the “open flash” technique, basically you hold the shutter open in a darkened room, fire the airgun which triggers the flashguns via a microphone.  By moving the microphone away from the sound source you can delay the flash by 1 millisecond for every foot you move the microphone away from the sound source.  So, by trial and error, you can create shots like this one where the pellet has entered the balloon, gone all the way through the water inside, and pushed the skin of the balloon out to just below breaking point.  An image similar to this one went viral on the Internet with over 20,000 hits in a day.  Currently the image has been viewed over 40,000 times 🙂

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