Taking Digital Photos Inside the Kaleidoscope by Jerry Farnsworth

Image from the Car Scope Image From the 3 Sense Two Kaleidoscope
Producing good kaleidoscopic digital photos is a challenge. With a few simple techniques and guidelines mentioned in this article the reader should be able to produce a great photo of the kaleidoscope image. I have been making kaleidoscopes for over 15 years and photographing the images for almost 10 years. Early images were produced first with a non-digital film camera, then with video cameras (analog, then digital), and finally with a digital camera. This presentation will use the digital camera only, but many of the suggestions will work for the other cameras as well.

Equipment
A small list of equipment is needed for the image capture. Light Source, camera, tripod, kaleidoscope, and scope holder.

Light Source
As light source, I use a 100-watt halogen moving (adjustable) arm lamp. In addition to being easily adjustable, this lamp produces a color of light that works well to produce true colors for the images. If other types of light (incandescent, florecent, etc.) are used, you will need to correct the color either on the camera or on the image program on your computer. The light source will affect your image by it's distance from the scope Brightness), and the direction from which it is pointed. (a little kaleidoscope theory ......a scope image can be illuminated by various directions. The light can be directed from the FRONT, SIDE, or REAR (or any combination). Experiment with you light source to see which position works best.

Camera
I assume that you know the general workings and how to control the features of your camera. If not, delve into you instruction book and learn how to:
a. Change to the different modes of your camera and what they are used for. (I reccommend experimenting with all modes to see which is beter for your images. More later.)
b. How to select the image quality and image sizes. (I reccommend that you use a medium to high quality and size once you are ready to keep your images.)
c. How to bring the images from your camera into your computer. (Much of the quality of the compleated image depends on your computer touch up and cropping.)
d. How to reset (If possible) the "Auto Off" on you camera. Often, the camera will turn itself off in the middle of setting up the shot, before you can get that image you are hoping for.
c. How to turn off and on the flash unit. Since the camera lens is so close to the kaleidoscope eyepiece, the flash will not be of any use and will adversly affect the image that you get.

Tripod
A tripod for your camera is very helpful but not necessary. All that is needed is a steady and repeatable method to bring the camera lense very near (or against) the kaleidoscope eye opening.

Kaleidoscope Holder
I use a cardboard box as support for the kaleidoscope. The scope must rest in the "holder" solidly, yet must be able to be positioned to receive light from the light source. In addition the kaleidoscope must be in a position so you can move the image chamber to get the best and different image.

About Different Camera and Modes...Go Figure
Working with each camera manufacture's camera mode system is beyond the scope of this article. I sugest that you read and study your camera manual. However, that's not the way I did it. I found that most cameras are not set up for taking images of item 8" away with a lens and scope body VERY close to the camera. So my Modal Madness experiment consisted of shooting numerous shot of the same kaleidoscope image with each mode setting. This testing helped me arrive at 2 settings that almost always work. Fortunately one of these settings is AUTOMATIC, so try auto first. Both close-up and Macro on my Nikon are only ocassionaly satisfactory. Be sure to check all the modes and setting in spite of what the buttons or manual says. Experiment.....digital film is free once you have the memory card. I have made some interesting effects using the flash and a properly positioned (on the object case) reflecting mirror.
Focus
If none of the modes gives you a satisfactory focus to your image, and you have tried all the modes in your camea, you will need to learn how to focus you camera manualy. See you instructions, or your manufacture's website.

Thru The Kaleidoscope
For this article, I have used 3 different scopes. A teleidoscope, a car shaped kaleidoscope, and a table globe scope, each presenting different image capture problems (and pleasures).

Capturing the Sports Car Kaleidoscope
Set the scope in the box in a position good for both camera and light accessability. Before positioning the camera lens near the scope eyepiece be sure to turn the camera on. Some cameras automatically extend the lense when turned on and avoiding clashing two optical intruments together is a good thing. Bring the camera lens as close to the eyepiece as possible and set the camera to it's widest. (If you camera has two buttons (or a rocker switch) with a W and a T on it.... press the W= Wide). Determine if there is enough light for good color. Adjust the light with changing distance (close, far) and direction (front, back, or side).

Alignment
Adjusting the camera to capture ALL of the image IN the center of the shot can be difficult. The camera may be need to be adjusted at an angle to acomplish this. Be sure to CAREFULLY move the camera and scope....no scratching.

Shoot
Fill the camera viewer, or view finder and shoot. Test. Experiment.

The teleidoscope
Problems presented by this scope were very short focus length, a strong eye lens, and subject matter for the viewed object. To focus on this close of object, I had to use my macro mode and manual focus. My auto focus was moving the lens back and fourth in an undecided spasm til I switched to the manual method. Since this shot was in my studio, I used a photo of flowers as the object to view.

The Globe Scope
Problems presented by the Globe Scope were in the lighting and positioning area. The best lighting direction was determined to be, after actual camera shots, positioning the light to shine thru the globe at a slight angle into the scope. This scope needed a repositioning of the camera at an angle from the scope because of it's short length and wide field of vision.
The setup for the Car Scope
The setup for the Teleidosocpe
The setup for the Globe Scope
Globe Scope images up and below







Teleidoscope Image
Left, the image directly from the camera before cropping. Right the cropped and sized image.


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