7-29-2010: New (uprighted) video loaded on "Nitty Gritty" :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

SciMath Career #7: Photographer/Videographer

Meet Bill Crawford, our very talented Imaging Specialist on board the JR. He is an extremely enthusiastic photographer who packs a punch you wouldn't expect from a man less than 5'6". Armed with his macho digital cameras and his "PhotoNinja" hard had, Bill is anywhere and everywhere capturing the expedition goings-on to show those back on land what life and science on the JR is all about. Processing and organizing all those photos requires science and math though, and Bill has got to know his stuff if he is to showcase our work in the best light possible.

You wouldn't think that photography uses math but just check out the ratios and relationships Bill does every day to figure out how much "noise" (or background junk) is in his pictures! He also needs to know how to calculate angles and do arithmetic to invent new machines to photograph our samples. Here in the digital age, he's got to calculate distances, pixel sizes, pixel shapes, file sizes, areas and light intensities. After all, all graphics come down to math. Whew! Who knew it took math to create wonderful pictures like these?

As you might guess, photography and videography involves knowing optics (the properties of light and how it interacts with objects) and physics (how far sound and light travel). It also involves chemistry. (Betcha didn't guess that!) Back in the olden days of wet chemistry photography when people would develop their own film and print their own pictures, they needed to know what chemicals they were using, their concentrations and what they did. Nowadays in the digital age, chemistry pops up in dealing with printers and what kinds of paper and ink to use. It is also used for cleaning camera lenses. Yep, you read right! Lenses have special coatings that are very sensitive to certain chemicals. In order to avoid damaging the lens, you have to know which chemicals will clean which kinds of smudges and which chemicals can't be used on which types of lenses. Bill's knowledge of the science behind photography is what makes him such an outstanding artist.

Bill is more than a photographer here on the JR. He's our PR guy - the guy who shows the public how cool our work is! As Bill says it, "We're doing good, GOOD research here. Let's show everyone that!" Thanks Bill for using your math and science to capture, process and organize the JR photos. More importantly, thanks for communicating the importance and brilliance of our work here to those who support and are interested in our program. You're a treasured artist who has shown us how important math and science are to the simple act of taking a picture.


  1. Hi Amanda!
    We had some questions after reading your blog and looking at the pictures:
    How much food do they have on the ship? (maybe this could be turned into a math problem solving question...)
    Why do you decorate the CORKS before you send them down to the seafloor?
    What happens if you accidentally drop the CORK into the water?
    How do the CORKS get power? Batteries? (What kind?)

    We enjoyed looking at Bill's pictures in the gallery!

    Talk to you soon!
    Can you bring video with you when you visit?

  2. Hi all,
    Glad to hear you enjoyed the pictures. Bill's awesome!
    I will make it my mission to find out how much food we have on board and report back ASAP. :)

    It's just fun to decorate the CORKs - to let our creativity out and get messy in the meantime. Plus, we're applying to the Guinness Book of World Records for the deepest art installment so everyone wanted to participate.

    The CORK is held tight on our drill string on the way down, so the chances of us accidentally dropping it are slim to none. However, if we ever did make that big (and expensive!) kind of mistake, it would just fall to the seafloor and we'd have to go searching for it. That would be a big-time bummer!!

    The CORKs themselves aren't powered at all - they're just metal contraptions that hold our experiments and keep seawater from above from getting down into the hole. Now, the experiments in the holes that require power (like the thermistor string that records temperature to be downloaded onto a computer later) has lots of batteries. So it runs on battery power until we're able to get back to it. Our chemistry and microbio experiments don't require battery - just water flowing through it - so, no worries there.

    Yes, I think I will be able to bring video when I come. I'll check on that today too. :)

    I hope you're all having a great wednesday!! See you all in 3 weeks!