Camera with ‘lens’ made of 32,000 plastic straws creates pointillism-like images

straw camera close
A project by artists Michael Farrell and Cliff Haynes shows that you don’t need complex optics and electronics to build a working camera. With 32,000 plastic straws arranged in honeycomb fashion inside a wooden box, the Straw Camera, as its called, takes photos that resemble pointillist artworks. The camera has been in development since 2007, with the goal being to take images in “the most direct manner possible,” as Haynes writes on the project’s website.

Farrell and Haynes took inspiration from pinhole cameras, but whereas a pinhole creates an entire image from a single point, the Straw Camera “produces a multipoint perspective from an array,” Haynes writes. “The light viewed/collected by each individual tube is recorded onto the photo -ensitive material placed at the opposite end. By going straight on to paper, it is a direct analog process.”

As Haynes explains, the camera has a “raw” f-stop, derived from the length and diameter measurements of each straw. This results in an aperture of roughly f/127. “There isn’t depth of field,” Haynes writes, “the clarity of image produced by the straws recedes into the picture plane.” Each straw also has its own hue and density, with each contributing to the overall look of the final image.

Haynes said they first tried the camera out on still-life subjects, eventually moving into portraiture once they built up their confidence in using the camera. Portrait subjects would have to hold their pose in the dark while Haynes and Farrell set up the camera, then triggered a flash to make the exposure. The resulting portraits appear to have a similar resolution to early television images, and present a stark contrast to the hyperrealistic images we are accustomed to today.

Haynes and Farrell have put together a book, Straw Camera Photographs, to showcase what the camera is capable of. You can see many example photos on their website.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

From DSLRs to mirrorless, these are the best cameras you can buy right now

From entry-level models to full-frame flagships, many cameras take great photos and video. The best digital cameras, however, push the industry forward with innovative sensors and improved usability, among other things. Here are our…
Product Review

Meet Z6, the breakout star in Nikon's new mirrorless lineup

The Nikon Z6 is the sibling to the new mirrorless Z7 -- but for some photographers, the cheaper Z6 may be the better option. Read where the $2,000 camera beats the $3,400 one (and where it doesn’t) in our Nikon Z6 review.

Calibrate your display to get it looking just the way you like it

Want to see images the way they're intended to be seen? Here is our quick guide on how to calibrate your monitor using your operating system or another tool, to make what's on the screen look as good as it can.

Lens Rentals zooms in on the most popular cameras of the year

As 2018 comes to a close, Lens Rentals is taking a look at most popular cameras of the year, based on rental data. While Sony and Panasonic saw more rentals than the previous year, Canon is still the most-rented brand on the platform.

Luminar’s new libraries don’t even need you to manually import images

Luminar 3's new libraries feature doesn't require importing -- images are automatically added after clicking on a folder. The long-promised libraries feature gives editors a Lightroom alternative with organization tools as well as syncing…

MIT science photographer isn’t an artist, but her work could fill galleries

Felice Frankel is an award-winning photographer, but she doesn't consider herself an artist. As a science photographer, she has been helping researchers better communicate their ideas for nearly three decades with eye-catching imagery.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.

Photography News: Startup redesigns tripod heads ‘inside out’ for more flexibility

Well, this doesn't look like the ball heads that we've seen before. Instead of designing a tripod ball head with a small cutout, the Colorado Tripod Company created one with most of the ball exposed, allowing for more possible angles.

Leica targets street photographers with a pricey camera bundle

Described by the camera company as "your perfect companion in the city," Leica's Street Kit comprises a Leica CL camera body, a 23mm (35mm full-frame equivalent) F2 lens, batteries, a handgrip, and a black leather carrying strap.
Social Media

Snapchat facial recognition could soon power a new portrait mode, code suggests

Digging into Snapchat's code suggests a handful of upcoming camera features, including a portrait mode. The feature appears to use facial recognition A.I. to blur the background. The code also suggests an updated camera interface.
Social Media

#ThrowbackThursday is only the start: Instagram hashtags for every day of the week

Not getting your hashtag fill with #ThrowbackThursday or #ManCrushMonday? Here's a list of some of the more popular Instagram hashtags, so you can outfit your next post with the proper tag, regardless of what day it is.

Photographers can now customize the layout of Lightroom Classic controls

Tired of scrolling past Lightroom tools that you don't use? Adobe Lightroom Classic now allows users to reorganize the Develop panel. The update comes along with new sharing options in Lightroom CC, and updates to the mobile Lightroom app.