Experimental Imaging

An Intro

Experimental Imaging was a week long course that taught us the fundamentals of photography through several short projects. It was one of my favorite courses as it showed photography in a completely new light, showing its capability to explore the digital world and its power to make the invisible visible. For instance, visualising the spectrum of wireless RFID field or seeing the wifi network in an area using long exposure photography are examples of what I mean by turning the invisible visible. This work from Timo Arnall is a perfect example of that and served as inspiration for the class:

More specifically, this course explained how image capturing works, how to make a good image, their history and all the technical details behind capturing it using a DSLR camera. Furthermore, we also had to apply all the learnings we got into a final project that encouraged us to use sensors and arduinos along with a DSLR camera to turn something invisible visible.

Matt Cottam and Mikhail Mansion

Our Teachers

Our teachers for the week were Matt Cottam and Mikhail Mansion. Matt has taught us before through Intro to IxD and he is the founder and chief design officer at Tellart. He has a rich experience in IxD and usually engages with people through captivating installations that amplify the interactions between people and technology.

Mikhail is also from Tellart and he is the technology director there. He used to work for the United States military in weapons development, but shifted his career to new media art and design when he realised that his knowledge could be put to better applications.


This was one of the most exciting weeks for me as it helped me step into a world that I haven’t explored before. The world of using photography combined with sensors and controllers to capture invisible phenomena. This course made me more familiar with using my DSLR camera and opened up a new box of possibilities. Over the course of a week, we were able to work on two small projects and one final project. We were given the flexibility and opportunity to experiment without having to worry about a strong concept backing it.

First project: High speed and long exposure photography
Here, the assignment was to create two images using high speed photography (shutter speed of 1/4000 or more secs) and long exposure photography (6 secs or more) to see something that we wouldn’t have been able to in our daily lives. These are some of the high speed pictures from the class:

Some of the long exposure pictures from the class:


Second project: Stop motion animation
Our second project involved creating a stop motion animation of a short story or concept. Here we tried using DragonFrame software to do this, however later on decided not to, since it had watermarks on the trial version. We were able to do this by just using a static camera setup for taking pictures sequentially and then later pulled them into premier pro to create the animation. Our setup consisted of just a DSLR camera on a tripod with some vertical lights and a steady base that held our clay model.

Another project that uses stop motion -from Christopher Bogar, Benedict Hubener, Kelvyn Marte, Jens Obel, and James Zhou:

So summarising the things we learned this week:

  1. DSLR camera fundamentals.
  2. High speed and long exposure photography.
  3. Image composition and its history.
  4. Stop motion animation.
  5. Integrating sensors and controllers to trigger DSLR camera.
  6. Choosing a good lens for a DSLR camera.
  7. Lighting fundamentals for photography.


Moving on to the last project for the week, we were able to work on two separate projects within our team as we were 6 members: Esther Bretschneider, Kelvyn Marte, Arvind Sanjeev, Bora Kim, Anoushka Garg and Benedict Hubener.

Sound Spike
Sound Spike is an exploration in visualising sound using a microphone and an RGB LED light embedded in a laser-cut light diffuser. With the microphone, we measured the sound decibels being emitted from a sound source, and visualised the decibel ranges with the colours red, blue and purple. Long exposure photography brings to life the sound characteristics of an audio source in a visual way.

You can check out the video of the arduino and sensor setup for the project here.

LeapHop is an interactive experience which invites the user to reveal images in space through moving his finger, just like a scratch-card it gradually reveals the image. It builds an additional level of surprise for the maker, as the image is only revealed when captured on a camera. The accompanying video is composed of a series of long exposure shots which were stitched together to create a single animation.

The position of the index finger is tracked using LeapMotion and this precise position of the finger is then used for further computation. In Processing, the position of the finger is mapped to the coordinates of an ordinary image to extract the color of that particular point. In turn, an RGB LED attached to the index finger lights up in the extracted color. That way any shape or photograph can be made visible by just drawing the light with the finger, the LED will change the color value accordingly to the current position of the finger in space.


Some more experimental projects from the class:

Pulse Trace: Can Yanardag, Keyur Jain, Matt Visco, Radhika Agarwal, Yee Mun Ooi


Movement and Light: Christopher Bogár, Sebastian Hunkeler, Ine-Charlotte Asakskogen, Rachel Lane, Somayeh Ranjbar


Smoke and Project: Vytautas Gudaitis, Taishi Kamiya, Stephanie Lee, Clara Subirats, James Zhou


More projects from this class can be seen here: Experimental Imaging.

This is just a short intro to my life at CIID, I will be publishing more posts on the different topics we learn as well as the projects we do through this blog. Furthermore, all the credits to the media content for this blog goes to the IDP class of 2017.

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