Man with an X-Ray Vision, Well, Sort Of

January 18, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Do you know a British photographer called Nick Veasey? He brings out the beauty in things ranging from MP3 players to jumbo jets, by using X-ray imaging. If you have heard about him, you would also be obviously curious to know how he does what he does, right? Then we recommend you to read on. This one is interesting.

Your first guess would have been finding an X-ray machine of proper size to do the job. To capture an insect or a small device is no big deal in that case, but what about a huge passenger plane. Tricky huh?

You are not totally wrong on this one. For an arresting X-ray of a bus and its newspaper-reading passengers, Veasey employed the sort of cargo-scanning X-ray machine that is used at border crossings. The device examines vehicles for hidden bombs, drugs, or stowaways, one slice at a time, like a CT scanner.

Coming to the passengers, Veasey cannot X-ray human beings, as he would have to keep the person exposed to radiation for minutes at a time. And with a typical medical X-ray lasting for a couple tenths of a second, you can guess the odds of the person surviving the little photo session unaffected. So instead, he uses skeletons once employed by radiologists-in-training. Or more precisely, he uses a skeleton; he and Frida have been best friends for some time.

Yes, the mystery is slowly revealing. His images are, in fact, not one-off X-rays at all, well at least not when it comes to the more complex examples. They are skillful and laboriously constructed collages, made up of hundreds of separate X-rays.

Take, for instance, the image of his Mini Cooper automobile. There is a door, the window-cranking mechanism inside it, the driver’s seat and its suspension system, the steering column, stick shift, and other mechanical tidbits, all in an image. He shot each part individually and put it together.

In other words, like engineers who X-ray airplane parts to ensure they won’t malfunction, Veasey X-rays separate components; and then he puts them all together in Photoshop. So there you have it, all the hugeness captured together in exquisite detail.

But guys, this is a pretty big process, and looks simple only in words. And, it is not the money or recognition that drives Veasey to do this, not exactly.

He says: It’s revealing the hidden beauty within. And sometimes you are surprised. You can walk down the aisle in the supermarket, and the most common and everyday things look beautiful when they are X-rayed. Equally, other things you pick up that you think will make a fantastic shot sometimes disappoint you. I’ve been doing it for years, and I’m surprised every time I shoot”.

Amazing, isn’t it?

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