Polarised plastic

My turn to hop on the polarised-photos bandwagon.

Polarised plastic cups

An LCD monitor is an excellent source of polarised light, and lots of see-through things also polarise light to different degrees as it passes through different parts of them. For this reason, you'll see faint rainbows around the edges of various clear plastic things if you hold them up in front of a plain white LCD screen. Put a second polariser over your eyes or camera lens, though, and things get trippy.

(If you see someone looking at an LCD through polarised sunglasses and doing the Indian head wiggle, that person is not necessarily on drugs.)

When a local discount store was closing down, I seized the opportunity to buy a lifetime supply of little plastic shot glasses. It struck me that they might be good for mixing glue, holding small parts, reenacting the drinking contest scene from Raiders, et cetera. They are also good candidates for polariser photography, especially if you stick a few of them together.

One day, I'll get around to making a cup sphere, in which you glue or staple disposable cups together to make a globe. Stapled paper cups are probably the fastest way to do it. I've got a lot of magnets here, though, so I decided to try sticking the little shot glasses together temporarily with those.

Polarised plastic cups - rear view

I got 24 cups together before the process started becoming really difficult, with the structure shifting around and magnets snapping onto each other and the wailing and the cursing, glayven.

5 Responses to “Polarised plastic”

  1. Noodles Says:

    Since you mentioned the head wiggle of those wearing sunglasses and looking at LCDs, I thought you might be interested to know (although maybe you already do) that it's possible to see the polarisation light with the naked eye.

    Looking at my LCD right now I can clearly see the direction of polarisation without the aid of sunglasses or other polarised film.

    The effect, which is a result of dichroism in the eye, is often referred to as "Haidinger's Brush". Do a Google and you'll find all the info you need to learn how to recognise it. Once you get used to it you'll then be able to easily see the polarisation in all kinds of things, like the sky.

    The downside (at least for me) is that once you know how to recognise it you'll start to see it everywhere, and it might become difficult not to see it.

    Great photos by the way :)

  2. The Axeman Says:

    Like the photos. Just need to remove the supporting structure.

  3. Phage Says:

    I remember seeing some very interesting articles on stress analysis using polarised light and hard plastic copies of mag wheels I think. But a quick Google throws up some interesting links

  4. Fantastic Plastic 2 Says:

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