Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mad Science: Optical Shenanigans

The image above is an actual picture. It's not digitally manipulated, and it was taken on my worktable a few minutes ago.

The subject is a piece of jewelry from The Noble Collection. And no, I didn't fill a room with candles and jewels -- the picture was taken inside an infinity box, and there are a lot more pictures below.

What's an infinity box?

Some ghost hunters claim spirits can be 'captured' inside a box lined with mirrors. Such a thing is sometimes called a 'Devil's Toybox,' and while I don't believe ghosts, if they exist, can be trapped inside nine dollars' worth of Home Depot mirror tiles and twelve bucks worth of MDF, I did wonder -- what would happen if you built such a box, and put a camera inside it?

So off I went. Building a cube with each face measuring 12 and one-quarter inches took me about an hour. I thought myself a clever lad, because I remembered to account for the thickness of each mirror face. I did forget to account for the dimensions of the glue that holds each mirror in place, and had a few moments of high drama getting the glass panes to slide inside, but got lucky and didn't break anything.

Total cost; 37 dollars, when all was said and done.

I found that four small candles provided enough light to keep the camera's flash from activating. Focusing in the box is largely a matter of sheer blind luck. As soon as I close the lid, I can hear my poor little Fuji Finepix S1000fd start cussing in Japanese, because autofocusing in the optical equivalent of a circus funhouse isn't any fun. I used the S1000fd because it's the smallest camera I've got. My new one has an enormous snout of an optical zoom, but I may try it later too, just to see how its updated hardware deals with the reflective environment.

I'm putting the best of my images below. I hope you enjoy them!

Candles and a crystal ball (yes, I have a crystal ball, and it shows me episodes of The Walking Dead two weeks in advance, nyah nyah na nyah na).

You just can't find ceilings like this outside of Vegas...

Markhat's Mark IV vampire-built revolver. Loved the way the copper color was scattered.

Got this effect by skewing the camera on its little tripod. I've also gotten this effect before without a camera, with a quart of Old Overcoat malt whiskey, but I much prefer this method because my ears don't bleed afterward.

SpongeBob discovers LSD.

Who doesn't have a private horde of precious gems?

Look, Ma, no tripod!

Everybody needs a Treasure Room.

Bikini Bottom, Saturday night.

A herd of dinosaur.

Meralda's favorite latching wand.

Seven million candles.

So that's where I left all my rubies.

I like this one because it suggests a row of dragons, ready for battle. Or the Grand Opening of a new Subway sandwich shop, depending on your level of militarism.

Finally, gargoyles, because nothing keeps your treasure horde safer than an infinite number of highly-motivated gargoyles.

I'll be playing with the Infinity Box this week, trying different cameras and contents. If you've got a suggestion for a subject, let me know! Keep in mind it needs to be smaller than a foot across in every dimension.

No ghosts were trapped, harmed, or even mildly annoyed in the construction of this project.

In writing news, the new Mug and Meralda is still in edits, and the new Wistril is chugging along. The new Markhat is under consideration at Samhain, but I don't expect any word on it for six weeks or so. I will keep you all informed, though!

Okay, back to my edits. I hope you enjoyed the photographs. If anyone is interested in the actual plans I drew up before building this, let me know and I'll scan the paper and email it to you. It's not a difficult build.

Take care all!

Remember, The Five Faces goes on sale June the 17th, but you can pre-order now.

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