Mod a flatbed scanner
to take photos
time and motion.
By Mike Golembewski
A scanner’s image sensor
captures a scene slowly,
line by line.
Several years ago, I built my first scanner camera. The idea was simple: I would
use an ordinary flatbed scanner with a homemade large-format camera. The
camera would focus the image onto the scanner bed in place of photo paper or
film. I expected this to be a quick little art project made with a cardboard box,
the cheapest flatbed scanner I could find, and lots of duct tape.
But when I got it all to work, the results were won- but extended into the real world.
derful. Stationary objects photographed normally, Making and using a scanner camera is a lot of fun
but moving objects appeared twisted and distorted as a technical exercise, but more importantly to me,
into fascinating shapes. At first I thought there was it provides an interesting photographic perspective
something wrong with my contraption, but then on time and movement.
I realized that the movement of the scan head was Here’s how to build 2 versions: a simple card-meshing with the movement in the recorded scene. board-and-duct-tape one that keeps the scanner
The distortion is similar to the effect created by intact, and a warranty-voider version that’s more
moving an original on a photocopier mid-copy, portable and flexible, and takes sharper pictures.
Photography by Mike Golembewski
78 Make: Volume 14