School of Holography
School of Holography

by Frank DeFreitas Holography Studio
Allentown, Pennsylvania
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Creative Holography Using
Inexpensive Laser Pointers

My magical journey of making
holograms with a $7.99 laser pointer
and inexpensive laser diodes.

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(hologram will not appear three dimensional on your computer screen)

The above photo shows a 4 x 5-inch, holographic, white-light reflection portrait made using the Infiniter200 laser pointer ($14.99). The process is actually quite simple and relatively easy to do. I'm hoping that the availability of laser pointers, along with their low cost, will encourage more people to try this. With a 35mm camera, a laser pointer (or HeNe laser) and a home-built holography table you could set up your own mini-holography portrait studio. Considering past and recent performance of these little pointers, I'm wondering if 8 x 10 portraits would be possible as well.

Update: The above IS an 8 x 10 hologram portrait created using an inexpensive laser diode. Left: Close up detail of hologram; Right: 8 x 10 holographic plate. This hologram was made entirely with home-made lab equipment and a self-designed diode laser system at 27mW of power/650nm.

This technique also frees you up to do other types of holograms such as outdoor shots, on-location, etc. You're no longer limited to only holograms that you create right on your studio table. If you can take pictures of it with your camera, you can make a hologram of it!

This type of hologram starts out being shot using a camera with traditional 35mm film (I used 35mm film that I already had processed for this one). For this process, KODAK's T-MAX100 film is used (available at any photo supply store). Instead of a single picture, several pictures are taken of the subject from different perspectives. The Kodak TMAX100 film is then reverse processed using KODAK's reversal processing kit or through the services of your local photo finisher. The minimum number of perspectives I can use for a 4 x 5 portrait, and still get a good dimensional effect along with a little parallax, is eight -- although you can certainly use as many as you wish. The images (transparacies) are then transferred using laser light to the master hologram using hand-cut cards which function as "slits".

It may also be possible to do this with "slide" film, such as KODAK's Ektachrome, but I have not experimented with this. Since this film produces color transparancies, I am not sure if the color dyes will absorb the laser light evenly throughout the slide. This is why I stick with "greyscale" black and white.

When all slits and perspectives have been exposed, the master hologram is then processed as any other laser transmission hologram. When the hologram is re-illuminated with laser light, you now see a three-dimensional portrait when looking through the hologram film or plate.

The master is then transferred to the copy reflection hologram as in any other H1 to H2 transfer. The copy exposure is made and then processed with the usual reflection processing. Triethanolomine can be used to control color. Gold gives a nice image. Green faces are hard to look at -- so you don't want to go into the green.

A slight bit of motion can be included in the portrait, such as the winking of an eye, etc. Just make 3 exposures eyes open, 2 exposures wink (one eye closed), and another 3 exposures eyes open. The only movement should be the winking of the eye. The subject has to remain still during the photo shoot as much as possible -- which really doesn't take very long. When you move past the hologram, the person will wink at you. Since there are only 8 individual perspectives, any additional movement will be very choppy.

This is a relatively easy hologram to do. Once you have it down from start to finish it goes rather quickly. I keep little pieces of tape on my table edge to mark where mirrors go, etc. to speed up set-up for both the master and copy.

This hologram was shot on AGFA8E75HD for both the master and copy. 8% TEA used for the copy for a yellow-gold image (I got a stupid streak right around the chin area -- too much of a hurry!). Now that I know that it works, the next one will be on BB-Plates and I can't wait to see it. I'll start that one from scratch, starting with a new photo shoot.

On a technical note, I do want to point out that the individual slit exposures were more consistent on this master than previous masters shot with my HeNe. I used to chalk this up to table/optical component stability, but I'm almost convinced that the HeNe's are not as stable as the little diodes. Each slit exposure was right on the money with the other. The last thing you need doing this process is one dark slit in the middle of 7 other good ones. I will no longer use my HeNe to do this type of work.

15mW Diode Test a Success! Click Here.

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Frank DeFreitas Holography
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Contact Information

School of Holography