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Placing Devices on a Flatbed Scanner

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Last Updated: 12 January 2021

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ARCHIE ADAMS

ARCHIE ADAMS

Editor-in-Chief of the Handy Home Master

First Case Study: Music Box

I’ll use a music box as our first case study. So I place it on the glass of the scanner, and it looks pretty good. However, as I look carefully, which I hope you’ll do when you try this sort of stuff with your work, there are a couple of things that I’m not thrilled with.

First of all, there’s some writing on the barrel. Looking closer, it appears to be numbers and letters. That’s not good. Our eyes go straight to letters and numbers, and they actually become a distraction from the image. So I’m not happy with that. I’m also not thrilled with the positioning of the turning mechanism, which we’ll call a stem. Somehow it doesn’t feel like it’s composed properly.

So what I simply did is play with it a bit so that the barrel no longer shows the writing. I also turned the stem to make the entire thing look like a better-composed image. I’ve been dealing with compositions all my professional life. I hope you can agree with how I dealt with this one.

I thought about what difference would it make if we changed the orientation of the device on the scanner. Now, remember the light and sensors only travel in one direction. We have no control over that. So let’s say that the barrel of the music box is parallel to the light source. What I’ll do is to rotate the music box 90 degrees to make it perpendicular to the light source.

So now we have a barrel whose orientation is parallel to the light source. It has a significant highlight on it. We also have another one that’s positioned perpendicular to the light source and has no highlight on it. If I sat down for a bit and try to anticipate all these results by drawing arrows from light sources and reflections, I’ll be able to anticipate what the differences would be. However, I prefer to just discover it. I want to be able to experiment with it, just as I hope you will do with your own material. I want you to try and find out what these objects would look like if they were placed about 45 degrees from the light source. What do you think will be the results?

The results could be nothing, but it could also be something. The point is to experiment with your material. Remember that you don’t have control over your scanner’s light source. At least, not like the control you usually have with a camera. So at the very least, take advantage of what you do have control over. And in this case, it’s the placement of your device.

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Second Case Study: Euplectella Silicon Skeleton

Let’s do some more experimentation. So I have a three-dimensional skeleton of a euplectella here. First, Let me give you a little background about it so you can properly visualize what I’m seeing in your mind.

The Euplectella is an aquatic creature. This replica if that I’m going to use is made of silicon. It depicts the animal with shrimps living on it in some sort of symbiotic kind of relationship. I’ll put this three-dimensional skeleton on the flatbed scanner, covered it with black velvet, and take a very high-res scan. The output is a gigabyte big, which is unusually high. The black velvet that we used for a cover became the background behind the image.

Now that we have a scanned version of it, we can zoom in and further study the structure of the animal’s skeleton. We can use this to find out just how magnificent this work of nature really is. This scan will also be able to tell us the little details that the three-dimensional skeleton might have failed to deliver. For example, we can say that those fibers measure about 50 microns. Imagine how much more information can this high-resolution scan tell us. The possibilities are limitless.

Third Case Study: 2 1/2 Centimeter Device

Here’s our final case study for this particular tutorial. I’ll use a 2 1/2 centimeter device, which once again I’ll place on the scanner. For this, I thought it would be fun to show you how I get some of these things in the mail. So, I’ll snap a quick image with my phone camera so that later I can compare the images of what I started with, and what I eventually ended up with. I thought it would be interesting. You can do this too. You can see things that don’t look so great in the beginning, and imagine ways of creating an image that is publishable.

Just take a good long look at your device as I’m doing here. Try to look at it as if you were looking at it for the first time. I know is not easy, but that’s the trick. You might even think about focusing on getting a cover image for your submission. That’s what I’m thinking of doing with this device since the article was already accepted for publication.

So I made an image that has about 374 megs. Zooming into it, we can see that it can show us nice little details about the device. This is one of the advantages of using a high-resolution scanner. The detail that it can give you impeccably.

However, I didn’t think that the scan was clear enough. So, I resorted to using a stereo microscope to achieve a good result. I just attached a camera to it to snap a picture. Although looking at the scan now, I don’t think it was that bad. Maybe I was being a little too much with it the first time.

Final Word

Nothing beats experience. You’ll never know which position and setup will work best for you unless you actually try them all out. Try doing all these experiments for yourself. Maybe you’ll end up with far better results than I did. I do hope you learned something from this article, and that you get the results you were aiming for.

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