Photos of insects in flight, obtained using the old HDD

Published on April 26, 2013

Photos of insects in flight, obtained using the old HDD

    Photographer Linden Gledhill is interested in macro photography of small natural objects - snowflakes, flowers, insects. One of the most technically complex types of such macro photography is shooting insects in flight. In order to have time to "detect" an insect at the right time, a human reaction is not enough - you have to use laser or infrared detectors that fire when the insect blocks the laser beams crossing at the focal point. The shutter speed of the camera itself is also not enough, which in the best case is from 50 to 100 milliseconds, so photographs are taken only with the flash - in a dark room, with the shutter constantly open, or using a high-speed external shutter that prevents exposure to light from surrounding light sources .

    All this equipment costs a lot of money, for example , such a detector system costs $ 350, and shutters with a response speed of several hundred microseconds to tens of milliseconds are sold for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Gladhill was able to seriously save money by using the old hard drive as a high-speed external shutter.

    The mechanical block of HDD heads is an ideal candidate for the role of a fast shutter drive. The working stroke of the heads is several tens of millimeters, and the maximum positioning time, which is nothing more than the time during which the heads move from one extreme position to another, is about 10 milliseconds. Having disassembled the faulty hard drive and attaching a thin metal plate to the head block, Linden Gledhill received an external shutter that is almost as good as the branded samples - almost for free. Here's what it looks like:

    Here’s a general view of its installation:

    Gladhill got the idea of ​​creating a shutter from an old HDD and a connection diagram from a paper published by Australian scientists from the University of Melbourne ( PDF ).Glickhill's Flickr insect photo album has nearly five hundred images.