If You Build This Fulgurator-on-the-Cheap, Use it for Good

I totally missed this on DIYPhotography.net until Alim Kassim clued me via Twitter.

A little bit of quick and easy DIY (and ball bungees!) turns an old film camera into a focusing strobe projector. You can actually buy these things for some models of big lights, but they will cost you some serious coin.

I'd probably use one differently than did the photog on DIYP. Like maybe painting numbers or something three-dimensionally onto someone's face or something. Great idea to keep in the back pocket, tho.

If it looks familiar, it is a simplified version of the "Image Fulgurator" created by photographer Julius von Bismark. But he used his for public mischief...



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Blogger Chris Darke said...

Sounds cool, though I would be pained to destroy a hard working old 35 mm just for that.. in terms of the whole 3d text superimposed on someone, I just used a bog standard video projector which worked quite nicely!


September 24, 2011 1:09 AM  
Blogger david said...

I have long wanted to build a fulgurator since I stumbled on it a year or two ago. Then I saw this posting at DIYP.

I have always been loath to destroying a working camera, even if it is never going to be used again. But I do have two left over old manual Nikon cameras that I ended up picking up with lenses in eBay auctions...

And now sitting and thinking about it - the camera does not really need to be destroyed at all: With the use of a cable release, the shutter can be set on bulb and held open indefinitely. The back can be removed and left intact if a light gasket of some sort is made to seal the flash against the film and film plane area.

There is also a big advantage of not destroying the camera: you can use the view finder on the camera to set the focus without even taking any test shots. Just aim the camera, focus, open the shutter, position the flash, and then start shooting.

I recently picked up a cable release with a macro bellows I just bought, so I may have to try this after all...

September 24, 2011 9:30 AM  
Blogger david said...

Here is something I thought about after I posted my previous comment:

One additional thing that can be done is to take photos with a roll of film (slide or B&W, as desired), have it processed but left uncut. The film can be reloaded into a can and then fed into the camera just as unexposed film would be.

By using a strip of continuous film like this, it will automatically be held in place by the camera itself without modification. You'd select the desired photo by "taking" pictures until the one desired moves just past the shutter area. Then you pull the release and wind it back to align it over the shutter.

September 24, 2011 9:44 AM  
Blogger udijw said...

Thanks for featuring a DIYP story, always a pleasure to e-meet Strobist readers.

There was much backfire about the murdering of the camera, so I am going to feature another much less destructive project - that way It\ll be OK to use it for bad ;)

September 24, 2011 1:54 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Hmmm... I have a Mamiya 645... just remove the back... wouldn't even require sacrificing an old camera, and the bigger frame would make it easier to create gobos. I guess I'd have to trick the shutter into working without the back attached, but that can't be too hard.

Also many 35mm cameras have easily removable backs, if you know how the latches work.

September 24, 2011 4:03 PM  
Blogger rchillphotography.com said...

David, thanks for picking up my post for DIY Photography. Any chance of a link to my original blog post as well :-)


I was a VAL for you once after all :-) in this shot



September 24, 2011 9:43 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Hey RC --

I remember now! A double reference in this instance would (a) not follow my normal style and (b) be pretty weak Google juice.

Mos def gonna use this on an assignment one day, will likely write about it. When I do, that will be a much more powerful single outbound link. More better Google juice and eyeballs.



September 25, 2011 6:18 AM  
Blogger Martin Phelps said...

Been using this one for five years. Not sure what the camera body is doing for you, apart from weighing down your bag...
Nice to see some interest in using it though!

September 25, 2011 11:01 AM  
Blogger Bernhard A S said...

Like David I think the camera does not need to be destroyed. Many have exchangeable back covers anyway, so it can be simply removed. The Camera and flash can even sit on separate Stands. If you do not want to tape the slide to the camera, it could be attached to the flash.
Great inspiration to go and do something.

September 25, 2011 1:18 PM  
Blogger MrBBQ said...

GOOD post....wonderin' what I was goin' to do with that camer crap that don't work my wife picked up at a garage sale!!

September 25, 2011 6:38 PM  
Blogger Tom Nutter said...

....don't know if it is quite the same, but you can buy an old Fresnel hotlight, take the guts out of it and then adapt it to a strobe head or a speedlight. I got one for about $50 and then adapted it to work with a dynalite bare-tube head by taking apart a soft-box speedring and fitting the apter...the part that fits on the strobe head, to the hotlight. It will also work with one of my Lumedyne heads fairly easily. Putting a speedlight into that would only be a matter of some gaffer tape and maybe some black foil.

September 25, 2011 9:56 PM  
Blogger RockD said...

Speaking of speedlight hacks. Do you know a way to hack the Nikon SC-29 cord to use the AF illuminator at the top and chop off the rest? It's great for lowlight focusing, but the rest of the cord can be cumbersome if it's not actively being used.

September 26, 2011 11:04 PM  
Blogger infoinfo unik said...


October 03, 2011 12:22 AM  
Blogger Raymond St Arnaud said...

This kind of surface mapping is much easier to do in photoshop using Displacement maps http://psd.tutsplus.com/tutorials/photo-effects-tutorials/photoshop-a-tattoo/

1997 Time cover http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19971229,00.html

Photography by Gregory Heisler, Computer Imaging by Leo Chapman

December 14, 2011 2:01 PM  

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