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Streak Photography

Streak image example

Streak images, such as the one shown to the right, start with a simple 3-dimensional object —a single flower, a vase of flowers, a wood or metal sculpture. The object is placed on a rotary table that has been computerized to turn just a fraction of a degree per second. A picture is taken at each position in the rotation. For my work I've programmed the rotary table to turn .36 degree per second so I end up with 1000 digital photos.

Once I have the 1000 original digital photos I run a custom-developed computer program that extracts two rows of pixels from each image and stacks these rows on top of one another to create a new picture. Upon winnowing out the least interesting ones I end up with about 200 new images... each created from the same two rows of pixels from the original digital photos.

The Artist's Eye

Next my artist's eye chooses the most lovely of the 200 new images. With a flower, "extracting and stacking" the rows that are 215 & 216 pixels from the top of each original photo are likely to result in a beautiful image of petal and stem colors swirling around each other. The curves result from the rotation that occurs between each of the original digital photos.

Some of the images on this Web site are created by reflecting the original image horizontally and/or vertically.


Bryan Mumford's work with streak photography provided the initial inspiration to do this work with images of a flower. He also provided the means by making and selling the Time Machine and the Sherline Controller that I used for these images.

Also thanks to Ted Kinsman--who, in turn, I gather, provided inspiration to Bryan Mumford.

I also appreciate Prof. Andrew Davidhazy of the Rochester Institute of Technology, a modest and talented man who puts us all to shame with his ability to share knowledge and to teach. His streak images were some of the first that I encountered and that tickled a few neurons in the back of my brain. He has an on-line gallery of some images that I found intriguing and interesting.

On a technical note, thank you Manny Minjarez (of ProPhotoSupply) for steering me to buy the Profoto D4, a strobe system that gives very consistent flash color and output.

And for those who want to know the details...

My setup, equipment, and process in html and in pdf.

copyright © Andy Johnson-Laird, 2016.
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